My life according to Pendaflex

I suddenly realize that my life is compartmentalized differently than it used to be. I have new priorities. Different subjects dominate my thoughts. Everything has changed! And its all because of Pendaflex.

In Israel, the office filing system is totally different than it is in the States. Files and papers are either clipped or hole-punched into “classirim”, essentially binders. The binders are then are stored upright on shelves. You need a file? Pick out the binder by its identifying color or label on the spine and flip through the papers till you get to the one you want.

I may be living here in Israel for 18 years, but I haven’t upgraded my filing system. I’m a Pendaflex girl – always was, always will be. And I like my way better!

Pendaflex are the hanging folders you use in a drawer. You put your papers and folders in them, and then hang them from the metal rods that are attached to the top. The rods are suspended from rails that run from the front to the back of the file drawer (or you can go the lateral file route – storing folders from left to right). Either way it makes so much more sense to me.

In my recent attempts to totally clean and organize my office – once and for all – I decided I needed to work on the filing system. I had papers from 2007 still sitting around the office, with no place of their own. It was time to get serious (this determination to organize the office is probably due to avoidance of getting the final edit of my novel done – but that’s shrink speak). The first big question I had to ask myself was shall we go letter or A-4 size?

Are you laughing? Well, don’t be! Its a serious dilemma. A-4, the industry standard here, requires A-4 Pendaflex (other brands will do, if you can find them). Letter-size, which I have tons of, is narrower, and doesn’t quite match up to the length of the A-4 paper. What’s a girl to do?

I went out, armed with an A-4 size Pendaflex hanging folder, in search of a store where they’re sold. Hah! The local store couldn’t figure out what it was. But the salesperson was kind and called her associate, who promised to get back to her. The associate must have been half asleep, because she never called back. We called again. She said yes, she had them. I had to get directions to the place, because it was in some secret location in an industrial area not far from my home.

After walking around the grounds of the entire building, I finally found the place – a scrawny looking, neglected, non air-conditioned warehouse. I interrupted the girl working there, who was chewing gum and listening to music on her iPod. She slowly got off her chair and took me over to the hanging folder section. For a moment my heart began to beat wildly – would I really be able to find them right here? After only two stops? She picked up the folder and I almost burst out laughing. It was indeed a hanging folder – but the rods were on the wrong side! They were attached to the closed side of the folder, and the other side was open! So once again you’d have to secure those papers either with a clip or a hole punch to keep them from falling out all over your drawer.

Gum chewer didn’t seem much interested in my request. She simply said what I wanted didn’t exist. But lo and behold I looked at the half opened carton on the floor and there were hanging folders – just the way I wanted them! Oh glory be! My momentary joy was quickly canceled. They were folio size. Do you have any idea how big folio is? About the size of my entire drawer!

I left the sad warehouse, sadly. I went to another store, in another village. The news there was even worse. They had no such folders, had never seen folders like that, and were not interested in pursuing the matter with me. At this point it was nearly 12 and my stomach was making requests of its own. Like feed me, and feed me now!

I came home and thought about the other stores I would have to check out in order to accomplish my mission. They were far away – and there was no guarantee that they would have what I want. What about Internet you might ask? I tried – no luck. I decided there just had to be a better way.

I made my decision. I would stick with the letter size Pendaflex I already had and manage somehow. Of course it would be a little skimpy, but the drawers would accommodate them easily (we’re talking Meridian file drawers from the States – the greatest modular drawer system EVER- from Herman Miller). My file drawers could accommodate letter size, legal size, A-4 and even folio. If only the office suppliers in this country could be as accommodating.

And so, with a warm feeling in my heart, I started to file away – just like I did so many years ago in the old country (Manhattan). I used only the magenta colored folders for everything, and the green, blue & yellow ones as section dividers. I switched all the magenta plastic inserts on top to clear plastic (much easier to see though). I wrote up a fresh batch of file folder names and inserted the tiny little papers into the plastic inserts (going all capital or capital and small letters was also major decision).

And then it happened! I had my epiphany! My life has changed over the last few years – and the way I know this is because of the filing system. I used to file masses of interior design photos and articles. Each room of a house or office type, or medical center had its own file and folder. Then it was all about culinary matters. Food took over my drawers and the dictionaries and lexicons and notes and articles overflowed.

Then life took its natural course and book publishing became the file du jour. Everything relating to writing, authoring cookbooks, and food & lifestyle journalism took the place of the previous tenants. My faithful Meridian drawers put up with the changes without a peep of complaint. They just sighed with the new contents they were forced to hold and did their job.

Today, I have new priorities and new files in the drawers. Today’s files are all about Internet and websites, and new novels and books to be published. There’s on-line marketing sections, and e-publishing, and formatting info and files with agents names, and files with rejection letters, files with readers’ letters and files with Gourmet Club activities, and files with speaking events and folders with photos, and on and on.

And through it all, my Pendaflex are still with me. Me and my Pendaflex, we’re really good friends.

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