Sunday, February 25, 2007


I peeked my head through the side door, glancing around the familiar earth-toned workroom. Debbie was busy at her desk the next room over, or at least, I assumed she was busy as the sound of typing drifted from her direction. The copy machine/printer/book producer/hovercraft-if-we-could-just-figure-out-the-secret-code was quietly humming to itself, every-so-often spitting out a page sent by someone around the office.

My eyes lingered on the mammoth CM for a moment before coming to rest on a little machine that would never know the joys of flight. Nevertheless, it had its own gravitational pull and I was soon standing in front of it, papers clutched to my side and left pointer finger flexing in anticipation. A slight smile formed as I indulged in one of my favorite occupations during my stint as an assistant admin at the church.

In another land far far away…

I had been working diligently on preparing materials for my husband’s upcoming elementary school lesson while he was away at a conference. Mostly though, I was getting a cramp from hunching over large rigid plastic sheets painstakingly transforming them into giant BINGO cards. It was time to give my screaming back muscles a rest, and besides, the machine was ready. Moments later I was doing my best to sing along to a Japanese pop song on my iPod as a familiar aroma tickled my nose and the first toasty warm sheet depicting the letter “A” peeked out the other side.

The truth is, I’ve always secretly enjoyed laminating. The first place I did it with any regularity was at the church, and although it was always done in a brisk and efficient manner, I could have happily laminated all day if there were that many things to laminate. While I like tasks that engage my brain, there are some repetitious jobs that serve the important function of helping you unwind while still accomplishing something useful.

Now, my husband hates laminating, which is unfortunate considering the nature of his job here. Teaching just seems to be one of those professions that require the transformation of fragile paper materials into a virtually non-destructible representation. It appears that Providence brings people together for a myriad of reasons, for I am exactly the opposite (although I must point out that I’m not a compulsive laminator. There has to be a purpose behind the madness).

For some strange, undefined reason, it’s actually fun for me. There’s something soothing about going through the motions, that brief second before the plastic becomes unyielding, the jerk of the page at the rollers’ release. The slow, steady, and meticulous work reminds me of other instances when I worked to bring chaos under control, resolving it into order… like finding a place for a mountain of Christmas ornaments that didn’t equate to being shoved in a corner or placing every picture and sticker “just so” in a scrapbook. It’s a good feeling, one of accomplishment.

I also happen to think that the distinct scent of the laminating machine melting plastic together must be what the process of transforming chaos into order smells like… at least a little bit. There’s a tang to it that just smacks of conflict- two opposing ideologies battling it out with one slowly succumbing to the other.

The truth is, I’d forgotten about this little joy until the need arose to engage in it once more. Discovering the little quirks that make a person unique is interesting in and of itself, and re-discovering my own connects me once again to the fact that we’re all so similar, in completely different ways.

1 comment:

MOM said...

Oh---do I remember those days of laminating---piles of it. Whether it was letters, trees, children, dates, or seasonal leaves or holiday decor, I, too, enjoyed every moment of the time I spent arranging---or in another fashion---making order of the jumble of creative ideas Ashley's 1st grade teacher came up with for her classroom. It really must be the tool of the teacher.