I walk through the front doors. I know that I really should have just kept on driving but somehow I find myself parked out the front of a big building, getting out of the car and entering. Soft music plays: colour and movement and abundance await inside. I breathe deeply and feel excitement, like I’m returning home after a long time away.
To start with I just skulk around, slowly browsing the discounted section, to the left of the main door. There are some interesting bright coloured things here, but nothing I really love. I pick thinks up, turn them over, admire them, then put them carefully away.
Just as I’m about to move on, a quiet mousy middle aged lady approaches me to ask if I need any help. Snapped out of my revelry, and not wanting to admit I was “just looking” ( I mean who goes to Officeworks just to “look”?), I say that yes I need some help, and describe some folder pockety things my son wants for school. My description is far from apt yet she says she knows exactly what I mean and strides in front of me (I scuttle along to keep up) about 8 rows until we come to a halt in front of EXACTLY what I “needed”. Wow- this lady really knows her stationery, and she really takes her job seriously. A career stationerista! I’m impressed.
I thank her profusely, thinking silently of the 8 rows I have just bypassed to get to the folders. She looks smug and walks away. I spend 10 minutes choosing colours- there are 8 to choose from yet I only need 6- would he like white?
For the next hour I browse. Stationary Mouse Lady leaves me alone, keeping a safe distance as she straightens an already perfect row of ring binders before moving on to the pencil section. She understands. She knows the pleasure of looking for the perfect journal, checking out the latest patterns in manilla folders, finding out what’s new in post it notes. I feel cocooned. She GETS me! I try some new double ended highlighter pens in pink. Unbelievable! I notice some black pencils with diamanté tips- I still love them, but I bought a lifetime supply last time I was here. They’ve been reduced to one dollar- cheapened.
Inevitably I move on around the rest of the store. I have chosen a most delightful collection of coordinated manila folders for my desk, and a set for a friend too, as it was hard to stop at just one. 6 coloured folder pockets sit at the bottom of my basket; I avoided the white as it may get dirty too quickly at school, and left the purple one behind too- purple is bad luck. I hasten through the office furniture section the salesmen in there are vultures, and vulgar to boot. I don’t want to be disturbed from my stationery immersion experience.
As I enter storage territory, the mood changes. A young male sales person approaches to see if I need any help. I smile sweetly. “Just looking” I say and silently swear and wonder why they just cant leave me alone to touch and turn and contemplate the thousand uses for all their lovely trays and baskets. He pauses, assesses, and the light of recognition comes on behind those keen eyes- oh, she’s one of those. He can read the obsession in my eyes.
Time has just flown, and my basket is now getting heavy. Why do they have to sneak even more racks of cute and quirky stationery onto the ends of the rows in the computer section? I am lured in. Cable cord tidying gadgets. Quadruple USB duplication thingies- all in a myriad of cool colours and designs. Somehow a metre long TV cable cover finds its way into my shopping basket. It sticks out dangerously, threatening to sweep all before it.
Oh no! Here comes Computer Sales Man. He approaches slowly, in a calculated way. “Can I help you?” he asks in a slow, low tone, already knowing what the answer will be. He has seen my kind before. He is loath to break into my bubble but knows it is his job. “No. Thanks” I say, with a twinkle in my eye. He gets it.
I am here to worship my inner stationery goddess. It is difficult to be disturbed.
Finally I look at my watch and realise an hour and a half has passed and I am running late for another commitment. I make my way to the front counter, focusing in the distance to try to bring myself back to the here and now. Daylight floods the front entrance way. Bright Counter Girl greets me with a huge smile. “How are you today?” she asks and I want to say “Great, now I’ve scratched my stationery itch” but instead I give a more standard reply. I don’t want to declare my addiction to this young thing, although I’m beginning to think the company probably conducts a personality test of potential employees, to see if they share some of my stationery obsessiveness. She smiles knowingly, keeping it light. Easing my transition back into the real world.
As I leave the store, I glance back to see Mousy Middle Aged Lady following me with her eyes. I notice she is smiling. She is quietly pleased for me. She can see that my thirst has been quenched (for now), and releases me from her sanctum. Her smile is her blessing.