Secret Diary of a Stationery Lover – Aged 50 ¾

“As I sit at my desk, surrounded by stacks of paperwork, the air is thick with the scent of freshly printed documents and the promise of bureaucracy. Oh, how my heart flutters! You see, dear reader, while others might find solace in the warmth of human connection or the excitement of a new promotion, I have found my true calling in a far more tangible and humble domain: office stationery.

Yes, my fellow office dwellers, I am an unabashed lover of pens, paper clips, and post-it notes. You may call it an obsession, but I prefer to think of it as an affair—a tempestuous romance between a jobsworth and the inanimate objects that give my daily existence meaning. For within these filing cabinets lies a treasure trove of office supplies, ready to be cherished and organized in perfect harmony.”

Recently I was introduced to the concept of AI, Artificial Intelligence. To be honest, we could do with some around here because the real stuff is lacking – don’t tell my boss I said that though! I have heard so much about it that I thought I would give it a go to write my regular column in this magazine. Hence the opening two paragraphs. Hence, they do not read anything like I would write, despite the detailed brief I gave to the website for the article. Who is that person?

Yes, it reflects my passion for stationery and best practice in the workplace, but it is all generic, contains no facts and does not reflect my intelligence. For example, would a chatbot share with you the benefit of a P4 security shredder that cuts an A4 sheet into 400 pieces, as opposed to a P2 shredder that would only cut it into 40 pieces. Yeah, are you going to trust a robot with your document security? And for information, if you really want to securely shred highly confidential documents you want to try a P6 shredder that will rip your A4 sheet into a staggering 12,000 pieces. Even the most intelligent criminal (artificial or real) would not be able to piece that little baby back together.

In truth, between you and me, I am a little bit tetchy about AI, it has created a bit of insecurity for me because my job is based on the traditional importance of human experience, knowledge and expertise and the very idea that people will turn to chat bots for their intelligent insight is quite alarming. Peter in Marketing keeps assuring me that there will always be a need for an office supplies expert in our building, even more so now that the company has officially adopted a hybrid working model so it is even more important that I am there to manage the workspace, organise the hot desking rota, ensure stationery orders arrive on the day that the relevant people are in the office and keep the wheels of business turning.

I can give you an example of that. Lois from data archives recently called to order some paperclips, but I wasn’t at my desk so my young assistant – Stephen (I’ll tell you more about him next time) – tried to replicate my knowledge by asking a chat bot what the best paperclips are to use for the job. After a few minutes of tapping away at his keyboard he came back with: “the ‘best’ paperclip ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Each type has its own unique charm and utility. So, embrace the variety, experiment with different options, and let your inner office supply enthusiast shine!”

What a load of twaddle! Lois looked at him like he was some kind of a fool. Artificial intelligence had backfired. Lois just replied: “Can you order me the Zincati ones I had last time. The zinc-plated paper clips that are made from raw wire, which guarantees high elasticity as well as great durability. The zinc plating treatment also protects the paper clip from rust and, at the same time, makes it a very simple and economic product.”

Stationery Lover 1-0 Artificial Intelligence

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