I have fallen in love. At work. With a shredder.
At my previous job, I never once used the shredder. It was just a small, desktop shredder, but it terrified me. It sat there, covered in notes about the dangers of long hair and dangling jewelry, and dared me to step up and turn it on. I never did.
Now, at my new job, I handle some confidential documents. It is my responsibility to shred them when they are no longer needed. When I started my job, I let them pile up in a folder for as long as I could. Finally, filled to overflowing, the folder demanded attention. I walked down to the copy area and faced the beast. This is no desktop shredder. It is a huge monstrosity, surely capable of devouring a finger or even an arm. If the warnings on the little desktop shredder at my last job frightened me, the labels on this shredder are terrifying.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I scolded myself. I forced myself to turn it on. It roared to life. I turned it off. I was so scared to put any papers into it. Finally, I took a deep breath and turned it back on. I grabbed a handful of papers and loaded them in. I wanted to get this job over as quickly as possible, so I stuffed as many papers as I could into the mouth of the evil beast. It began to shred and then…made a terrible noise and shut itself off. Now, I didn’t know what to do. I certainly was not going to try to reach in and see what the problem was.
Luckily for me, a friendly maintenance person was walking by, so I asked him if he could help. He lifted the lid and then sighed. “Why did you try to put so much paper in at once?” he asked. I could tell he was trying not to sound disgusted. All I could think of to say was “Sorry.” After much straining and pulling, he managed to remove the tangled mess of papers that I had forced into the shredder. He advised me not to put so much in at once again. I promised to be more careful.
Now I both feared and hated the shredder. I avoided it again for as long as I could. Then, I returned and, dutifully, fed it one piece of paper at a time. Over the course of the minutes I stood in front of the beast, we came to an understanding. I would treat it with respect and it would not destroy me. I learned how many pieces of paper it liked to receive at one time.
As weeks passed, we became friends. I began to imagine how nice it would be if there were a shredder for every problem I face in my life. Mistakes – into the shredder. Embarrassments – into the shredder. Worries – into the shredder. I began to see possibilities for my new friend. As I stood before it, feeding in documents, I also fed it my frustrations. “Shred those for me, please.” I imagined myself saying. “I don’t want them any more.”
Our friendship blossomed and developed, naturally, into love. I look forward to my trips to the shredder now. I admire that shredder for its strength and power. I admire it for its ability to eliminate – my papers and problems alike. Sometimes, when I am in the area making a copy, I give the shredder a little pat just to remind it how I feel.