I believe in intra-office envelopes. I am a secretary in a hospital. Three times a day — first thing, last thing, and at lunch — I go to the mailroom to pick-up and send off mail. Most pieces of mail are in large intra-office envelopes. Red and white envelopes signify the contents are confidential and everything else goes in goldenrod envelopes. Each envelope has over 30 spaces to write the name and location of the addressee. At the bottom, in big letters, it says “Do Not Discard Until Every Space is Utilized.”
I believe that these envelopes carry more than just records and reports. I believe in the communal reuse of supplies, using things up until there’s no use left in them. I think there are too many single-serving, one-time use items in this world. I am saddened by how eager we are to waste things, in favor of the newer and the better. Me? I like opening weathered envelopes, and seeing all the scribbles that have gone before me. I like the different colors of ink. I like looking at my co-workers’ penmanship — some scrawling scripts and others with their carefully constructed letters. I get a good feeling when I see the handiwork of my co-workers. Each letter was formed by someone who is working with me, though I may never see them. I think that each well-used envelope carries with it a little bit of character from every person who held it. The hands that have held envelopes I carry, those hands save lives and cure diseases. Ok, so these envelopes probably carry a few germs too, but I’m ok with that. Nobody’s perfect. I believe that a well-used intra-office envelope is far more interesting than a stark white number ten envelope will ever be.
In a world where we are increasingly secluded by electronics, I think there is more life in a beaten-up intra-office envelope that has seen 32 senders than there is in an email that’s CC’ed to 64 users. I lovingly tape up tears, and reinforce folds. I want to be sure each envelope lasts as long as it can, because there is a reminder of humanity in each intra-office envelopes. Every recipient puts a mark on the envelopes they hold, like people do on the lives we touch. And most people have more uses in them than we can see at first glance, with our eyes so accustomed to the “new and improved”. People, envelopes, everything should be given a chance to serve completely before we move on. Nothing should be discarded until every space is utilized, this I believe.
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