Dear Crabby,

Subject: paper clips.

Problem: They manage to get all hooked together while sitting quietly in their container. You work in an office, right? When you reach into your paper clip container to remove one paper clip, do you tend to get a chain of them? Maybe five or six linked together?

Do you have any idea how annoying this is? I think someone comes into my office during the night and sits at my desk intentionally stringing my paper clips together. Should I set up a camera and see if I can catch the culprit? Maybe a mousetrap placed in the container? Any suggestions?


Paper Clip Police

Dear Police,

Yes, I do work in an office. So, yes, of course I have an idea of how annoying that is: moderately to severely, depending on external factors such as how big of a hurry I’m in and whether there are doughnuts over by the copy desk. (If there are free doughnuts at work, I tend to accept paper clip hassle for the minor annoyance it is and handle it with grace and good cheer. But if it’s a no-doughnut day and I’m in a hurry, pulling a long paper clip chain out of my drawer can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back — with the camel in this instance representing my fragile relationship with sanity. (There’s a chance I’ll straighten out one of those paperclips and lodge it in my eyeball just to feel something other than frustration.)

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah, paper clips. You’re wondering whether someone is breaking in and intentionally hooking all of your paper clips together. The answer is no, that is not happening. It’s a ridiculous suggestion, indicating that perhaps you are a paranoiac with some kind of solipsistic persecution complex. Nobody would waste his or her own time breaking into an office at night to string paper clips together just to annoy you.

Enemies that devious tend to be a bit grander in their gestures. It wouldn’t be paper clips; it would be your mouse glued to your mouse pad, your family photos altered to include your husband’s high school girlfriend, your keyboard smeared with the ebola virus. That kind of thing. But paper clips? They might as well just uncap all your Sharpies so they dry out.

Frankly, Police, annoying as the paper clip thing is, it’s just one of those facts of life most of us have learned to accept. You know how, if you’re eating a delicious bag of peanuts at a baseball game, you’ll occasionally open up a shell and find a rotten peanut? You just throw it on the ground and keep eating. Paper clips hooked together are like that. Unhook them and move on.

I’m glad you wrote in and I know I’ve been begging for questions: It can be anything, just please, please send me questions, but when I said “on anything,” I didn’t really mean that to include paper clips.

Anyway, I hope that helps.



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