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September 27, 2006

Office Supply Recycling

I was talking to someone about office supplies (slow day at work) and she mentioned that Microsoft had a location on-campus where they recycled them. Furthermore, everything there is F-R-E-E free. All you have to do is log the items that you take.

Being your intrepid reporter, and also a sucker for this kind of dark underbelly scene, I set off to find the place. To keep it from being overwhelmed with newbie supply looters I won't reveal the exact location (although you can dig it up on corpnet). Suffice it to say that it is in the lowest level of the parking garage under one of the buildings. This demi-mondesque location is reminiscent of the place where Andy Garcia got waxed in "Black Rain", and serves to amp up the spookiness quotient a few notches. After wading past dumpsters and abandoned trash bins reach your destination, and if the very fires of hell are not actually leaking through grates in the floor, it seems like they should be.

What you are presented with is a fascinating cross-section of the industrial detritus generated by a company like Microsoft. Although there are bins in the copy rooms where you can recycle supplies, most of the stuff collected is abandoned in offices when the occupant moves offices or leaves the company. So it's basically things that nobody wants to bother taking with them. Piles of markers and staples. Storage cartridges for long-obsolete tape backup systems. Lots of books from the NT 4, Visual C 6.0 era. A whole box of promotional mousepads. And binders. Endless (or it seems that way) shelves of binders.

This actually is a throwback, in a way, to the way supplies used to be handled. There used to be a supply room in building 14, back when there was a building 14; if you wanted stuff, you walked over and helped yourself, while a staffer stood at the ready to point out the location of whatever it was you were trying to embezzle. Now, when you want supplies you order them from a website, your department is charged some small amount, and a week later your scissors show up in a giant box, air freight from who knows where. As long as you can tolerate pre-owned supplies of unknown provenance, the office supply recycle room allows you to recapture some of that faded glory--the part about loading up your arms with free stuff, if not the part about deterministic inventory.

The most poignant residents of this basement bazaar are the plaques and awards that wind up down there. One guy had abandoned 5 patent cubes. There was a frame containing a montage of photos from a triathlon. Acrylic mementoes for helping team X achieve goal Y in year Z. Even a couple with the name of a certain recently-departed Microsoft executive, who evidently felt no need for further reflection on the lucite remembrances of past glories.

From the email aliases on the signout sheet, contractors are particular fans of the place (makes sense since their access to office supply budgets may be tenuous). I myself liberated a perfectly useful 3M tape dispenser. In fact it was the "deluxe" tape dispenser, with the little spindle that flips out to hold the tape. That's right, I'm talking about the C-40, baby, $8.99 new from msmarket, not that cheesy $1.50 C-38. Since we now stock tape in the copy rooms (insert angel choir), I went from zero to tape-at-the-ready in less than half an hour. Truly, I was the king of the world.

Posted by AdamBa at September 27, 2006 10:01 PM

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Off I go to corpnet to find this treasure trove...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at September 28, 2006 09:27 AM

It is, indeed, easy to find this place via corpnet (search for "office supply recycle") and, happy me, it's in the building right next door to where my office will be moving in a couple of weeks. I will be rich, *rich*, RICH! Bwa-ha-ha...

Posted by: Pavel Curtis at October 1, 2006 01:09 PM