I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve been spending my paid sick day lying here ill with cold and flu symptoms. Enough about me. Don’t get all envious about me lying here. Let’s talk about you…and the problems you’re having with paper:

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From: Joseph Becker
Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2003 22:49:22 -0700
Subject: Problems with paper

Dear McSweeney’s Paper Expert,

Yeah, I got a problem with paper. It cuts me. Frequently! My point is this: when irresponsible people go around and manufacture dangerous products, they should be held responsible, right? When paper companies go about slicing up consumers, do you think it is going to end with that? No it won’t. Soon, we’ll be getting cut by pets, deer rifles, loofa sponges, 8-track tapes, french fries, weathermen, writing implements, spark plugs, cannonballs, Reese’s peanut butter cups, fish tanks, instructional language tapes, horsehair sweaters, maraschino cherries, incense burners, toenail clippers, roadmaps, chalkboard erasers, and ice cream… even children’s ice cream!

Mister Becker,

Firstly, let me say that I recently sent a list not unlike yours to my sister as a general rundown of things I could use if my unseasonable cold and flu symptoms persisted, and apparently it set off every FBI terrorism email keyword filter from D.C. to The Gaza Strip. A kind warning to my readers: Keep it brief and stick to the point — or risk a stay at the local police station for up to nine hours while men in suits ask you questions such as, “Are you a little girl now? Are you a little girl with a cold that had to send her little email notes to her sister?” Or also questions about what you’re doing, “The little girl’s going to cry now? Is that what you’re going to do?”

I was later informed that my emailed list of personal needs was the sole reason we saw newspaper reports of increased terrorist chatter earlier this summer. Anyhow, your problem is paper cuts, and this week the inbox was filled with letters about paper cuts. Everybody listen to me: if you’re doing a lot of filing or handling of rather standard multi-purpose product (basically any 20-45 pound acid free bonds [without a cotton or fiber cut] by the usual standard product kingpins like HammerMill, Mead, Hewlett-Packard, etc.) you’re going to get cut…unless you glove up. Joe Becker, I recommend you get over being “Joe Cool” and wear a pair of latex gloves when you’re at your desk. That’s what I do. I got over the childish nicknames and jokes; off-color remarks; physical threats; tampering with my food; sexual bigotry; theft of my personal belongings; fireworks being aimed at me in the parking lot at day’s end; and staff members making a joke of shoving me into the Women’s restroom and then announcing “Guess who’s in the ladies room!” on the intercom loudspeaker. I play it safe. I wear latex gloves. I even double-glove. That is, I wear two pairs of Acol-United Med # 145904 powdered latex gloves. You can get a box of 100 (twenty-five days worth) for $15.99 at Office Depot, and they’re also available un-powdered.

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From: Aimee Bingham
Date: Tue, 05 Aug 2003 18:11:09 +0000
Subject: Paper problems

To the man with all the paper answers:

I have a serious problem with paper. Certain types of paper products make a squeaking noise when rubbed between my pointer finger and my thumb. Can you help me or is this problem out of your scope of wisdom?


Hi, Aimee. I was just talking to Joe Becker about latex gloves. You can either get used to annoying squeaking sounds coming from your hands as well as getting your fair share of paper cuts, or you can do something about it. Get ready for co-workers to try getting your goat. They’ll put your pens in the plastic trap at the bottom of men’s room urinals, call you at home during your off hours to make sexual remarks, set your wastebasket on fire, or sneak up on you while you’re checking your e-mail and cut a hunk of your hair with scissors, leaving a white patch of scalp showing in its place… but trust me when I say this is a small price to pay (plus $15.99 for gloves).

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From: “Glarner, Matt (STL-MO)”
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2003 10:12:21 -0500
Subject: Paper.

Dear Paper Expert:

Paper cuts. Please investigate.

Matt Glarner

Matt, see the previous letters for information on latex gloves. I would take the time to write a little something more personal and tailored to your specific note, Matt … but I have a rather unseasonable flu of some kind. Oh, God I love this Sheryl Crow. I’m sorry. I’m watching TV in bed while I type this on my laptop, and she just showed up in a commercial about working with troubled kids. She’s teaching music to shoplifters or something. Also maybe hypoglycemic loners. She’s showing them all how to play piano. I feel like I need to find out where this organization is headquartered and rent a car to go there, and drink my way into a week-long petty crime spree and vandalism jag just so I get locked up and have some time to get to know her and play piano together. Seems like a really neat gal.