BTW, the sloth pencil case is sold out.
July 25, 2018 2:03 AM   Subscribe

Metafilter fave Ask a Manager gets a question from a reader still in school: "Will my taste in office supplies seem weird or unprofessional?" Their dad thinks so. Alison disagrees. The internet agrees with Alison with evidence.
posted by like_neon (73 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Reason #182 why I'm glad I work remotely.

But if I didn't, I'd cover all available surfaces with Frolicsome Feline plates and other horrendous decor... just saying.
posted by Vesihiisi at 2:18 AM on July 25, 2018


I have no opinion on this matter, nope.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:40 AM on July 25, 2018 [12 favorites]


Where can we get those awesome stuffed sloth pencil cases?
posted by infini at 3:13 AM on July 25, 2018


I just changed to a job with an open concept and no longer have my cubical so my desk is much less fun. Boo to open workspaces.
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:21 AM on July 25, 2018 [8 favorites]


I have almost zero need for office supplies these days but this may be the first time that it occurred to me that anyone would care.
posted by octothorpe at 3:51 AM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Back when I had a private office (oh the halcyon days of yore), I collected every dead plant around the building I could find. It was a university and a lot of professors would leave for the summer or whatever and just let plants die in their offices, so there were a lot. I had an office filled with dead potted trees and flowers, and it was the best thing ever. However, people did say weird things about me for it.

I still work there, though, so I don't think anyone really cared. The only reason I don't keep my garden anymore is that several reorganizations later I am in a shared office and I don't want to force my eccentricities on others.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:54 AM on July 25, 2018 [24 favorites]


Also I sit at a smallish table in a hallway surrounded by four rolling whiteboards that I pilfered from other parts of the office in a vain attempt to create something resembling a cubical so I don't really have room for much for anything other than my laptop and monitors.
posted by octothorpe at 4:03 AM on July 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


See, I'm in an open office and that has justade more militant about my, ah, distinct supplies because my coworkers have very sticky fingers and this both discourages that and helps me catch the bastards.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 4:22 AM on July 25, 2018 [11 favorites]


Not as much an official office supply item, but at my desk, I proudly display this sign given to me by my best female work friend. People can't say I didn't warn them.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:26 AM on July 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


In my office there is an ongoing custody battle for the Avocado Stress Squeezy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 AM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


My desk work/space. There's a dragon statue, some funko toys & and a plasma globe. I shall never grow up.
posted by Fizz at 4:39 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I get more compliments on my dinosaur wallet than on almost anything I own (except maybe the dinosaur dress), so I encourage everyone to go All Novelty All The Time and then people will think you are awesome.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:54 AM on July 25, 2018 [10 favorites]


The problem with having excellent taste in office supplies, however, is that you can't help but notice that your specially imported Japanese fine tip ballpoints keep ending up all over your co-worker's desks.
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:56 AM on July 25, 2018 [15 favorites]


I'll also add that I am lucky enough to be in a fairly welcoming office environment that for the most part doesn't mind if you bring a bit of your personality to your work space. I am sure they would push back if it was taken to an extreme, so a sense of balance and understanding that this is still a work place is good to keep in mind but some of my co-workers have more toys than even I do.

There are expensive Marvel statues and Sailor Moon figurines within an arm's reach of my desk.
posted by Fizz at 4:58 AM on July 25, 2018


I don't have cool office supplies but I do have a shelf full of Funko Pops, a Franklin Mint model of the Starship Enterprise, a Tardis, and a turret from Portal 2. And my newest edition, bobbleheads of 4 players on my football team, FC Barcelona. Also, hanging on my wall is a fan-made Harry Potter quilt. I had a co-worker who put a model train set on her desk at Christmastime, and it would travel around her desk while she worked. It's all good.
posted by ceejaytee at 5:29 AM on July 25, 2018


octothorpe: I sit at a smallish table in a hallway surrounded by four rolling whiteboards that I pilfered from other parts of the office in a vain attempt to create something resembling a cubical...

Oh, honey. *hugs octothorpe*
posted by wenestvedt at 5:49 AM on July 25, 2018 [22 favorites]


I also have a portal 2 turret.
posted by adept256 at 5:53 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


There isn't much at my cubicle--I need most of my desk space--but I do have my "Troy and Abed in the Morning" mug and a sleeping kittens calendar (which my girlfriend bought me last Christmas to replace my Taylor Swift calendar... a coworker once came by and looked at the calendar and asked if it was a picture of my girlfriend. I had to explain that, no, Taylor Swift and I are not dating).
posted by Fish Sauce at 5:54 AM on July 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


Things are pretty tame in my cube right now with just one Funko Pop (Tina Belcher for those keeping score at home) and a spinning TARDIS air freshener. We just had a renovation and moved cubicles though so I need to go and look through my action figure collection and see who wants to come to work with me. From prior office experience I know that Space Suit Tenth Doctor likes to scale the sides of computer monitors.

I can't get too wild, though. I do meet with clients in my cube sometimes and our clients range from Rainbow-Hair-and-Piercings to 90-Year-Old-Tweedy-Emeritus-Profs.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:55 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: In my office there is an ongoing custody battle for the Avocado Stress Squeezy.

From Flying Tiger Copenhagen?
posted by dr_dank at 6:01 AM on July 25, 2018


Oh, honey. *hugs octothorpe*

They just leased some more space next door so we'll be rearranged after the end of the month.
posted by octothorpe at 6:07 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I like to go a little overboard with my decor. During the holidays I like to cover everything in multi-colored lights and garlands.
posted by exolstice at 6:07 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


My preferred office writing implement is a glitter pen that says "Smash the Patriarchy." I vaguely try to remember not to bring those pens to meetings with my boss' boss, but I don't try too hard. I do spare him the notepads with cat-mermaids on them, though. I figure my version of being a professional involves fun office supplies but also knowing what contexts they're appropriate for.

(It also involves polling Twitter every time I run out of staples about which color staples I should load into my stapler next. I have no idea why I still have Twitter followers, honestly.)
posted by Stacey at 6:08 AM on July 25, 2018 [15 favorites]


The other reason that I don't decorate is that we end up moving desks somewhere around three times a year so it's better to not have much to move.
posted by octothorpe at 6:09 AM on July 25, 2018


I have a picture of my baby on my desk because she is a bit too young for Take Your Daughter To Work Day.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:15 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


My organization gets prickly about image, but no one in the office cares.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:20 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have no opinion on this matter, nope.

Me neither... (I redacted my employer's logo but my plant's name tag says "Maurice" FYI)
posted by capricorn at 6:21 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


(I currently have a lot of extra rubber duckies because my coworker duck-bombed my desk while I was in an important meeting. Don't tell her but I am plotting revenge...)
posted by capricorn at 6:23 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


[Avocado stress squeezy] From Flying Tiger Copenhagen?

I don't think so, although it is the right size. It just also has another company's address printed on it so I think it was a weird promotional item.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on July 25, 2018


I have flags of the countries I've visited hanging on my walls. Right now I'm up to 21, although I've branched out into regional or provincial flags which makes it a little harder. I use them to give pop quizzes to students who want to study abroad, to see if they can identify the flag of the country they (purportedly) are JUST DYYYYYING to go study in. Surprise: the vast majority of them fail the pop quiz. #notactuallysurprising
posted by Liesl at 6:39 AM on July 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


My desk has 10 years worth of McDonalds Happy Meal toys - they are staying behind when we convert to open concept/hot desking/whatever in the next couple of weeks. The movers can have them.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:44 AM on July 25, 2018


I tend to be pretty minimal in my decor, but I love whimsical office supplies. I just got my first monthly Japanese stationery box, and am delighted.

The things that most people comment on are my desktop prize wheel (that I use to make important decisions), and a pretty little floral Post-It caddy I got from World Market ages ago. OH, and I use a disc-bound planner/notebook which has a fuschia cover and a llama sticker on the bottom corner. Just because that's in my hands anytime I go anywhere on the shop floor, people ask about it. Work should be a little fun!
posted by Fig at 6:48 AM on July 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


Capricorn you have one of those Bosch figures that I want so much! Someday, someday.

I work in a secured basement office so we don't need to worry about the public and have gone a little hog wild. There's a lot of stuff in the office in general but I'm most proud of my little shelf of fun. I also have a giant sequined skull on my file cabinet and we all have a lot of random things tacked up everywhere and magneted to file cabinets.
posted by PussKillian at 6:53 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've always tried to keep my desk decor very minimal: the less you keep at work, the less you have to pack up when you leave.

But if this isn't a concern for you, go nuts!
posted by SansPoint at 6:55 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't have a ton in the way of personalization, but I do have Esmeralda, my wife's first crochet octopus, and my Happy Little Office Monster (seen here together). The Monster is one my wife painted at one of those pottery painting places, and he earned a spot on their Wall of Fame which is entirely deserved because he is delightful.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:10 AM on July 25, 2018 [10 favorites]


Happy Little Office Monster

He eats paperclips and has his own email address.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:26 AM on July 25, 2018 [11 favorites]


One of the most important secrets to my massive success in business* is the solar-powered waving maneki neko that sits on my desk next to the monitor

* unverified statistic, possibly false
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:30 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I know of a desk made entirely of VHS copies of "Jurassic Park."
When the CEO of Mega Media Corp. met the owner of the desk he said "Oh. You're the Jurassic Park guy!"
posted by Floydd at 7:35 AM on July 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


My desk itself does not have a ton of interesting things on it (also I tend to work in the conference room where there's a more comfortable chair to curl up on). But the corkboard is covered with the most interesting postcards I can find, I carry pens around in a pen case shaped like a little black cat, and my work (and personal) laptop is covered in stickers ranging from Rosie-the-Riveter-style Wonder Woman to a sticker of a Vulcan calligraphic translation of "The first duty is to truth" with stars in the strokes of the words to a giant Captain America shield.

I try to minimize letting students see it too much, but I don't try that hard. Any pretense of professional obligation is purely for my students' benefit, anyway.
posted by sciatrix at 7:57 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I work as a public servant, where everyone carries around the same black notebooks. Except the black notebooks have started to come in colors, and while our department still only has black, a department I work with closely has some that are teal and I could not be more jealous and I want a teal notebook so very, very much.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:02 AM on July 25, 2018 [8 favorites]


I have two pencil cups at my desk and one of them is a cup that is Chuckie Finster's head with a handle on it. I did not realize how creepy it might appear to someone who doesn't recognize it. I just learned that it is 21 years old, oh my.
posted by soelo at 8:15 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I keep a pretty sparse desk, anticipating the day I quit and storm out abruptly. I don’t want to have to slink back to pack up my plants and Twin Peaks figurine set, after making a big scene. I do schlepp a Bluetooth speaker to and from every day and it allows me to broadcast my emotional state because that’s the first thing anyone who needs to talk to me wants to know. I’m kind of a prick. Musical selections range from Ram Das to Dead Kennedys.

I love the “Smash the Patriarchy” pens. I love anything that fits the aesthetic code of “office environment” but on closer inspection is really subversive. I generally wear button downs and ties but if you look really close at the pattern on my tie you might see a harpooned whale spurting blood or a middle finger. If some motherfucker who has less experience or is lazier than me calls for a meeting in an ominous tone, you can bet I’m showing up with rolled sleeves and ink showing.

As long as employees are treated like children, I’m gonna keep acting like a wise ass sneering teenager.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:24 AM on July 25, 2018 [15 favorites]


Oh! I just remembered - I do have one ornamental desk thing that I have carried with me for the past 5 jobs. And - it is something that not only did I not spend money on it, I have no idea where it came from.

All I know is that back in, like, 2006, I got to my then-longstanding temp job at a bank, walked over to my desk - and saw that on it, there was now a mouse pad, with a woodcut-style drawing of a cat on it (it looked like it was a copy of a medieval illustration of some kind) and a caption reading "a harmless necessary cat (The Merchant of Venice, Act 4)". I had never seen it before, I did not know where it had come from, and none of the people who sat around me knew anything about it either and were all equally as baffled. When the financial crash of 2008 happened, and then I was let go in 2009, I took it with me, and have carried it around to every job I"ve had ever since.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on July 25, 2018 [10 favorites]


I just remembered that last month a new employee stopped by my desk, squinted at the TARDIS dice cup currently doing double duty as my pen holder, said, "That's a nice.....police....booth......?" and that's how I know we are probably not in any of the same online circles.

I'm also waiting for the day someone asks me about my Night Vale Community Radio mug, but it hasn't happened yet.

I do occasionally consider the "what if I want to pack up and quit on the spot" issue but there's not much in my office I wouldn't be able to abandon if the need to throw a really righteous storming-out arose. The only irreplaceable thing is a stuffed cat-octopus a friend made me, and I could shove that in my bag as I went. Or just carry it out in my arms as I went, so its beady glass eyes could stare accusingly at whoever had precipitated the stomping.
posted by Stacey at 8:32 AM on July 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


I don’t want to have to slink back to pack up my plants and Twin Peaks figurine set...

Did somebody say Twin Peaks?

I'm just really fucking proud of that container, okay? I designed and laser cut it myself.
posted by Katemonkey at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


I don't have a lot up in my cubicle, but I do have a printout of this Simpsons joke from 1994, which turned out to be uncannily germane to both my personal (record collector) and professional (manuscripts librarian) lives.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:00 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I just got my first monthly Japanese stationery box, and am delighted.

I want to thank you for this link, Fig, although it is possible my bank balance will not thank you.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 9:05 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


This thread has convinced me that I haven't put nearly enough thought into what my desk communicates about me. Looking at it, the most salient thing is a layer of miscellaneous clutter and waste over just about everything: plastic bags from the corner shop, miscellaneous papers, etc. Time for a clean up. Then there's the more conventional stuff: a small personal library of scientific textbooks; a coffee mug with the logo of one of our vendors; notes pinned to the wall; a bottle of antacid and another of ibuprofen. Then the weirder stuff: miscellaneous 3D-printed components and tiny plastic screws for a project I'm working on; a few taps and a driver for tapping holes in plastic; a vintage slide rule that I mostly use as a ruler; a cardboard box modified to use as a pinhole camera for the last solar eclipse; a plaster cast model of a rhesus monkey skull; some Loc-Line tubing for reasons even I'm not sure of. Whatever my desk communicates about my personality is mostly by accident, much of it probably not entirely positive.

The only things I've put up that are really decorative are a couple of print-outs of quotes that help ground me. One is from Darwin, in a letter to his friend Charles Lyell ("But I am very poorly today & very stupid & hate everybody & everything. One lives only to make blunders. - I am going to write a little Book for Murray on orchids & today I hate them worse than everything so farewell & in a sweet frame of mind, I am Ever yours, C. Darwin") and the other is from Hippocrates ("Vita brevis, ars longa, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile" is the Latin version).

Some of my colleagues have much more decorative desks, and I am slightly jealous of people who have a flair for quirky office supplies.
posted by biogeo at 9:34 AM on July 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


I work in an building where small business offices face onto an atrium with floor-to-ceiling glass fronts. Tenants on our floor include an attorney, an accountant, a medical office that does varicose vein and aesthetic stuff, an engineer, our real estate development office, a fire safety consultant, a financial adviser and a little call support center.

A few years ago the accountant put out an action figure - Greedo from Star Wars - facing onto the atrium hallway. A few months later he replaced Greedo with the Tardis. He has a big collection of Doctors and Companions that he has rotated in and out every so often, a Steph Curry bobblehead, and also a Statue of Liberty which tends to appear after particularly egregious actions by a certain administration.

Slowly over the course of several years, other tenants on our floor have jumped on board the fandom display bandwagon. When I saw the Data (TNG) coffee mug for $3 at a thrift shop, I had to have it for our window. The fire safety consultant has vintage fire equipment. The engineer has a giant origami swan folded out of a architectural plan sheet. There is a light-up Millennium Falcon, a Woody from Toy Story, Homer Simpson holding a glowing plutonium ingot with tongs, a Rickey Henderson bobble-legs figurine. I think the winner for the oddest, most obscure item is the new-in-box Hot Wheels Joan Jett and the Blackhearts tour semi-trailer.

I can't wait for my RBG action figure to show up.
posted by rekrap at 9:47 AM on July 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


my tie you might see a harpooned whale spurting blood or a middle finger.


RipNDip shirts were made specifically for you.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:50 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


In the article she says her dad thinks even her teachers will think she's unserious. In grad school I took notes on purple legal pads -- I was working my ass off, and they made me happy. I had a small ethics seminar, and a few weeks in I ended up sitting next to the professor, who noticed my paper as I pulled it out and did a double take. "I love your purple paper!" said Stanley Hauerwas, with sincere enthusiasm. "Where did you find purple paper? Everyone always uses white or yellow, it's so boring!"

I happened to be near the end of my current tablet so I had a brand-new pad in my bag, and I offered him my backup pad, to his grinning delight. Every time I dropped by office hours, he had his purple paper covered in scrawled notes on his desk.

I'm sure it's not the only reason he gave me a glowing letter of recommendation, but it didn't hurt!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:15 AM on July 25, 2018 [26 favorites]


I don't have a lot of flair on display, but what I do have is tucked off in a corner out of the way.
posted by jazon at 10:31 AM on July 25, 2018


Oh, I remember I do have a tiny piece of flair! A tiny note, taped onto my monitor next to the number for the IT help desk. No one would notice unless they were sitting at my desk using my computer, which occasionally happens when I’m out of the office so I wonder what these people think. It’s a quote my therapist reminded me of, and it fits in nicely with my under-the-corporate-radar subversion theme:

There you go givin’ a fuck again, when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck. —Bunk, The Wire

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:38 AM on July 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


My taste in office supplies isn't particularly interesting, but it usually gets comments. I'm fond of fountain pens, and I have tiny handwriting (read: I use 5-to-the-inch graph paper for normal notetaking), and when labmates need to read my notes, they can... they're just glad I send them photos of the pages and they can blow things up onscreen.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 10:40 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


One of the biggest reasons why I haven't had much decorative flair is because I have temped a LOT. (That cat mousepad is one of the few things.) But I did end up with a bit more "stuff" when I was the literary manager for my friend's theater company, and we shared an office (that we were only at occasionally).

Usually the decorative stuff had to do with shows we'd done (a coaster made out of a piece of astroturf from one of our sets, a flag from another show, etc.), but far and away my favorite thing riffed on a pair of in-jokes we had in the office:

* I liked to use variants on the "Do not taunt happy fun ball" quote from that SNL skit to ward people away from bugging me, and
* I once mis-spoke my own job title in a particularly bizarre way that made us both giggle for a couple solid minutes.

And thus did I once make a sign by hastily scrawling something on a piece of paper and hanging it over my desk: "Do not taunt the literary manatee."

The theater company closed about 6 years ago and my friend moved to Colorado last month. I have that sign still.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I used to work overnight washing windows in office buildings. One of my favorite parts of the job was looking at all the weird toys and stuff people kept on their desks.
posted by TheCoug at 11:57 AM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Once upon a time I had a job as a security guard. There was an open plan office in the building that I really liked, that I walked through three times per night. It had fun things on the desks and you could tell that interesting people worked there. I never touched their things but I always smiled to see them. So one night I took my break there, and made an origami frog from a piece of paper I found in the recycle bin. I left it next to the printer. And it was adopted by the people in that office. Every night I saw it perched in a different place. They were clearly handling it every day. I suppose it was a fun mystery to them.

Being a security guard is lonely, and it was nice to have this secret link to the world of daylight.
posted by elizilla at 12:45 PM on July 25, 2018 [30 favorites]


From Flying Tiger Copenhagen?

Flying Tiger is THE SHIT for novelty office supplies, that's where I got my realistic fish-shaped pencil case whose name is Fishy Wishy and my pencil sharpener shaped like a nose (you stick the pencil in one nostril to sharpen it).
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:14 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm happy with pink, glitter, and sloths. But, I'd ask a lot of questions before hiring anyone who chooses to purchase a three hole punch in 2018 while heading off to college.
posted by eotvos at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2018


I have a Jesus puppet, an Easter Bunny puppet, and a monster puppet in my office and well as a slew of ornamental and functional masks. I do IT for a living.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:44 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I tend to see and experience this as a social class issue; child's father coming from a working class background where people are actually policed and punished for making choices to "stand out" or emphasize individual identity, versus those tweets by lawyers and professional workers showing how apparently flexible their workplace freedoms are. So in this case the father internalized these negatives and is just trying to protect the daughter, the daughter is receiving new acculturation and new values due to K-12 schooling environment, and white collar people post pictures to invalidate the father's worldview to support the daughter's identity formation and development, but then don't touch on the broader class conflict issue which is what's at stake.
posted by polymodus at 1:55 PM on July 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


Worst place I ever worked for this sort of thing was UPS. Absolutely no personal office or desk items could be displayed, period. One could have the official UPS calendar (yes, it was pictures of package cars thrashing about in various picturesque locations) displayed with a supervisor's permission.

They also had an "all desks must be completely clear at the end of the workday" rule. I'm ambivalent about that one.
posted by lagomorphius at 3:36 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I tend to see and experience this as a social class issue; child's father coming from a working class background where people are actually policed and punished for making choices to "stand out" or emphasize individual identity, versus those tweets by lawyers and professional workers showing how apparently flexible their workplace freedoms are. So in this case the father internalized these negatives and is just trying to protect the daughter, the daughter is receiving new acculturation and new values due to K-12 schooling environment, and white collar people post pictures to invalidate the father's worldview to support the daughter's identity formation and development, but then don't touch on the broader class conflict issue which is what's at stake.

How do you fit that on one desk?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:45 PM on July 25, 2018


The sloth pencil case appears to be back in stock (link to walmart)
posted by moonmilk at 3:57 PM on July 25, 2018


I used to have a coworker who was former CIA and she even locked her plant up at the end of the day, when she was actually working in an official CIA office.

I work from home 97% of the time but when I am onsite I carry my laptop, lunch, supplies etc in a giant Mary Poppins bag with owls on it.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:59 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the sloth pencil holder link!

If I can enlist your help: I have a 13 yr old stepson. He loves (LOVES) sloths. If you have sloth-related school supplies, let me know. It’s my life goal to ensure he has everything sloth to make his little heart swell (plus guitars to feed his Jack White obsession/love).
posted by jdfan at 4:30 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I worked for a decade in a large health insurance company. Cubicles were personalized but it was generally pretty tame (except for a few outliers - a dear friend who was stuck at age sixteen because of daddy issues had a cube that a supervisor called "a thirteen-year-old's bedroom). Nerds like me found it best to tone it down. Dilbert cartoons were considered subversive (this was the 90s). I felt pretty stifled.

About a month before I finally resigned, I stripped my cube of everything personal. EVERYTHING. My hellbeast of a manager took it as a personal affront and acted all hurt, despite the fact that the hellbeast didn't want me there. Yeah, it was that kind of place.

Next I went to a legal information company. This was in fall 02. I wondered if there were nerds, if it was a safe space for nerds. One of the first things I noted as walking through a forest of cubicles was a lifesize cardboard cutout of Aragorn, in all his filthy human glory. I had found my people.

I had damn near the full Fellowship in action figures, a talking Gollum, Harry Potter stuff, Batman, a ton of music stuff, and on and on. Anyone on that floor that had a hobby or interest just let that freak fly. I saw attorneys with giant prog rock posters, horror movie figurines. My direct boss, an attorney that said he had too much redneck in him, had his entire cube done with fishing paraphernalia of every kind, dozens of scale NASCAR models, PLUS his Star Wars figures.

I was back there a couple years ago. The company had been bought out and for a while there was an attempt at taming it down. Cubes were somewhat smaller, more open. But no one backed down. One of my friends still had his cube ringed by ferocious gaming figures.

I miss that place. But I work at home. Nerds in my small village have seen my office/man cave. It's crammed with baseball memorabilia, fantasy and science fiction figures, a giant map of Middle Earth, and framed micro brew posters. A couple guys that wired the cable/Internet connection still speak of the room in awe when I run into them.

Get your freak on, screw the powers that would deny you.
posted by Ber at 7:17 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don’t have a lot at my desk. A Mattel Star Destroyer from The Force Awakens line. A small Fireball XL-5. Three sets of mini-maristroika dolls my supervisor brought for me from visits to her parents in Russia. A tiny Chinese enameled chest with a single cash coin in it another co-worker brought from a branch visit to Hong Kong, and a small Eiffel Tower keychain from another co-worker’s visit to, you guessed it, Paris.

Someday I will think about bringing in a few of my Marvin the Martian items.

We’re forced by company policy to do things like wear ties, but every Friday I wear a cartoon or novelty tie. They’re pretty loose about cubicle decor. One of the supervisors has a long line of Lego minifigs on top of his monitor. We are a logistics company, and one of my co-workers appropriated an impressive Lego container ship that’s been hanging around the office for years. On it he has placed a plastic velociraptor menacing a plastic screaming.
posted by lhauser at 7:58 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have the notebook made from sugar-cane waste, because it is a spiral-bound notebook with blank cardboard covers, and unbleached leaves that are the perfect shade of beige, with the palest teal lines.

I have PaperMate felt-tip pens in the most perfect turquoise to take notes and doodles in it.

Many, many PaperMate felt-tip pens, as they are swiped, the tips turned to fibrous mush, and slipped back into my pen mug on the sly.

Not the very nice Pilot G2 retractables I leave out as decoys, nor the blue or black felt-tips... and they always return it, they knew they did wrong, and want to pretend it never happened.

The office only gives out beige-papered steno-pads and yellow legal pads. I get it. The Dollar General makes you buy a two-pack with a color you'll never use, I get it. Go to the local art store. Bins and bins of these pens in every color. Buck and a quarter each. STOP STEALING AND WRECKING MY PENS YOU RIDICULOUS BASTARDS!

That's it. I'm going back to cheap fountain pens. O NO WAIT, you bastards bent the nib on the last one I left in my pen mug... AND PUT IT BACK LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED... mumblegrumble...
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:18 PM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have a skull in a snow globe on my desk. Only because I gave it to somebody as a rabbit-sitting gift and they promptly gave it back to me.
posted by lagomorphius at 8:38 PM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have an entirely work-related selection of drug paraphernalia on my desk. Also a lot of piles of paper.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:05 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't really have cute office supplies or toys at work any more due to lack of space in my current office, but I do have this "you've got this!" little orange monster paired with a mug about books and a unicorn pen together in the little happy object corner. I have a handmade Baby Groot and some Minecraft plants and a pet rock with my surviving office plant. I have some paintings and a lot of postcards and a Wall of Corgis that I put up out of last year's corgi-a-day calendar.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:52 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


jdfan, head to Staples now! My daughter and I were there last night and could not resist picking up llama supplies for my cousin who loves llamas. We got a folder, clipboard, pencil case, and ruler. There were also sloth supplies! You may have to wander around the store a bit. We found the clipboard, pencil case, and ruler in the cardboard standups with school supplies at the front of the store. The folder was in a display in the middle crossways aisle, and there was a matching backpack over on the backpack rack between the furniture and the tech stuff. We saw sloth versions of everything and stood there doing our Zootopia sloth impressions in the middle of the store.
posted by scarnato at 7:39 AM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


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