It was a day like the others—where he could work mostly on automatic. The flat, blank sky outside the window was the perfect empty canvas he once might have used to paint the day’s daydreams. Swashbuckling, etc. But he didn’t daydream much anymore. It slowed and slowed and then, one day, it just dried up. The sky became a blanket to wrap the dried up parts in, so comfortable they didn’t even know they existed anymore.
The worker reached for the stapler, but the stapler slid of his reach, like it was pulled on a string.
“Actually,” said the stapler, “I was hoping you’d use Jenny for this job.”
“Jenny?” said the worker.
“Your coffee mug.”
“My coffee’s mug’s name is Jenny?” The worker picked up the mug and looked at, navy blue, with its company logo in gold.
“She’s looking to get into stapling. I notice these documents are press clippings. They’re not critical. You usually keep them for 30 days out of obligation and then they go to the recycle bin. I think this is a good job for Jenny to test the waters, get her ears wet.”
“I’m ready,” said the mug.
The worker put the mug down. “But listen,” the worker said to the stapler. “You have a specific set of parts designed to hold the staples, push them through the paper, and bend them neatly. The coffee mug has none of these. The coffee mug is shaped perfectly to hold coffee. And see how my hand fits in the handle.”
“That’s just thinking inside the box,” said the stapler, who introduced himself as Terry. “You haven’t even tried.”
The worker found himself pushing a staple through the papers with the coffee mug. Bending it around. It took a couple of tries. It wasn’t perfect.
“But it’s a great first run. Look at that,” admired the stapler.
The mug beamed, the corporate logo on its side distorting slightly.
“It’s kind of wonky,” the worker said.
“But are the papers staying together?”
“Yes,” the worker said.
“And isn’t that the primary function of stapling?”
“Yes,” the worker said, not appreciating the stapler’s condescension.
“There you go. And I guess now’s as good a time as any to tell you I don’t want to be your stapler anymore.”
The worker suppressed a laugh. “Do you want to be my coffee mug?”
“No,” said the stapler. “I want to be a staple. I’ve worked with staples, I like them. Many, many staples have gone through me. I like the idea of just sitting on my ass, holding paper together. I want to see how the other half lives.”
“OK,” the worker said. “Do you have a preference of what sort of papers you’d like to be stapled in?”
“I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. I don’t want to be a staple for you,” said the stapler. “I’m doing a little start-up. With Jenny. That’s how you get the big bucks.”
“We’re looking for talented self-starters, if you’re looking to jump ship. The only thing is, does your name end in ‘y’?”
“My name is Branden,” said the worker.
“Could it be Branden-y? Because that way all of our names end in ‘y.’ And we could be The Y Team.”
“I could be Branden-y,” said the worker.
“What would you bring to the table?” asked the stapler.
“I procure collection systems,” said the worker.
“Not really a need for that. What else you got?”
Out of the worker’s mouth, to everyone’s surprise including the worker, came “Swashbuckling.”
“Swashbuckling,” repeated the stapler, rolling it around a bit in his smallish metal mouth.
“Swashbuckling. There’s buckles. Lots of buckles. And they’re going to need to be swashed. But where do you go for that? Yes. Swashbuckling. I see a real untapped market in that.”
The coworkers saw the worker leaving with his coat, his briefcase, his mug, his stapler.
“A little early for lunch,” the manager said.
Outside, Branden, Jenny and Terry got into the wastepaper basket that wanted to be a car and away they went.
Casper Kelly is a writer, television director, and producer best known as the co-creator of the Adult Swim series Stroker and Hoop. He has also written for Squidbillies, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.