Thursday, March 05, 2009

Yellow Paper

The last couple of days have had me caught up in the tedious task or purging old files from a file cabinet at work. There are many cabinets with various things, but for the first time, I am working with the infamous "yellow copies". I usually have nothing to do with them aside from observing them in their a hefty stack atop another file cabinet as I go about my business. Though this is the height of my interaction with them, they irk me. It's the paper.

I can only speculate as to whether it is in my genes that I should despise the sight of this paper colour, or if it is something built up in my childhood. This colour is only found on this paper. Similar variants on tile and fabric do not bother me. I wouldn't call myself a yellow fan, but I'm by no means adverse to it and even own a dress in it. Even a dark gold paper can be quite handsome but that sickly yellow that wants to be butter but just isn't, is closer to grey in my eyes than sunshine.

It is my belief that this discomfort began as a child. For some reason, the family paper supply was yellow. I lie. It was originally computer paper, the kind with the tear off bits on the side to enable the paper to run through a dot matrix printer. This paper was plentiful as my dad worked as a computer programmer. It was on this paper that I took it upon myself to write out the alphabet for the first time in a green crayon or marker and subsequently blew my mother's mind. I think I was always "eh" about that paper. I wished it were free of its baggage of perforations and lines on the back since we had no computer, let alone printer to run it through.

My prayers, if you can call them that, were soon answered with the arrival of the yellow paper. I don't know why it was in our home in such abundance, but once it was there, that was the family paper for years. I seem to recall it having originated from my mother, perhaps a job she had. I'd like to ask for more information but I know this is one of those things she wont remember, but will force her to question my sanity and the direction my life is taking should I pose such a pointless question to her.

The ubiquitous yellow paper was no doubt something I originally liked. After all, it wasn't white. Kids like colour. But if such a time ever existed, I don't remember it as soon I grew to loathe it. But something as banal as paper is just one of those things that as a child, you can't control and are powerless to resolve. All writing, drawing and crafting activities would have to be centered around yellow paper.

The day I got my first stapler, an item I did not need, I merrily stapled away all the staples into the yellow paper until I hit a road block. By road block, I refer you to my thumb. It was a gloomy day in August, darkened further by my injury. I was soon set up with a Band-aid and sought pity from anyone who would listen at the McDonald's birthday party we attended that afternoon. That's a lasting image. Staples, thumb, blood and yellow paper.

Yellow paper haunts the life of another child, no doubt depicted in the middle

I was about 10 when I first fancied myself a writer. I punched away at the old typewriter on the yellow paper until stupidly, one of my parents spoke up about the electric typewriter they had seen in K-Mart. In the spirit of the same trait that haunts me to this day, once I heard about it, I couldn't sleep until I had it. I pestered them about it, insisting I would be able to write so much more if I had it. They finally relented and forked out the $79 for it, and I proceeded to work on the a story called, The New Land. I will spare you the details of this story because even though I was only 10 at the time, the content embarrasses me as though I wrote it last week.

Even with the new typewriter, I was still stuck with the yellow paper. When I picture my story even now, though a couple of years later I completed a final draft in white paper, in which it looked oh so sharp, I still see it in yellow.

Eventually the yellow was all gone and there was only white from then on. New, WHITE paper. I felt liberated. I felt inhuman until that point. Like I was left with someones scraps. All that time, it felt like yet another thing wrong with me. I had no friends in school, a fake Cabbage Patch Doll and yellow paper.

From then on I was free of the yellow paper, until this job and the occasional flyer. Such pain I feel when I accidentally photocopy something and the last person to use the copier has failed to switch back to the tray of white. Out comes yellow. I'm sorry for the environment and the trees and all that, but I'm more sorry for myself having to look at it. At least in my latest task, I have the pleasure of committing thousands of sheets of it to the shredder.
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