A Gift for Martha

Martha is always so stylish. I love to see her new outfits after the holidays — she comes in dressed to the nines. On Valentine’s Day, Martha sports a beautiful pink sundress. On Halloween, her costumes are elaborate and detailed; she often spends weeks making something special for the occasion.

But when it comes to her office supplies, Martha never treats herself. Her mouse pad is the most basic model, her desk chair is no-frills and even her Post-it pads are predictably yellow.

This February marks Martha’s second year anniversary with the company, and since she never treats herself, I think it’s a great opportunity to show her how much we care. She deserves a bit of pampering!

I float the idea of a spa day by the other staff.

“Martha tried a massage once,” Brigid tells me, “and it totally creeped her out.”

How about a gift certificate to her favourite restaurant?

“Martha’s a great cook,” Andy says, “and she prefers to eat at home.”

I was stuck. But then, the Office Plus catalogue arrived and I saw something just perfect for fashionable Martha — a ladies tote. Currently, she carries her laptop in a backpack she’s owned since high school. An upgrade would be perfect!


I take my flyer over to Brigid’s desk for a second opinion.

“The Kensington Business Tote?!” Brigid beams. “I’ve been eyeing that myself…”

“So you think it’s a good idea?” I ask.

“Definitely. Martha’s outfits are always so put together, and then she just throws that old backpack on. This tote doesn’t even look like a laptop bag!”

It’s settled. I place my order and eagerly await Martha’s anniversary date. When the bag arrives, I put it in a polka dot gift bag and get everyone at the office to sign a card.

Before I know it, it’s the big day.

“Martha,” I say as I sneak up to her desk. She’s focused on her screen, and doesn’t look up at me.

“Mhmm,” she says, still distracted.

“I have a little something for you,” I say. I take the gift bag from behind my back and place it on her desk. I can see everyone around the office watching us, scooting their chairs a little closer to see Martha’s reaction.

Excited successful women peeking in shopping bags smiling

I’m nervous as she reads the card, removes the tissue paper from the bag and reaches in for her tote. I really hope she likes it.

“Oh, Rona!” she exclaims. “What a gorgeous purse.” She opens the bag and runs her fingers along the vibrant orange interior. “It’s a laptop bag?!”

“Yes! I thought it was just fashionable enough for our stylish Martha.”

She smiles at me. “Thank you,” she says as she stands to look around the office. “Thank you, all!”

Martha sits down and empties her backpack onto her desk, sorting her belongings into the new ladies tote.

“Does this mean I can shred that ratty old backpack?” Andy yells from across the room.

“Andy,” Brigid replies, “if you break the shredder one more time…”

Everyone in the office shares a laugh at Andy’s expense. He shrugs — it’s true, we had to replace the shredder just a few months ago. While the office is buzzing with laughter, I breathe a sigh of relief that I chose the right gift. These are my favourite moments at work — my employees are happy. As a boss, there’s no better feeling.


Don’t Blame it on Andy


Today, it’s out with the old and in with the new! I love the energy around the office after the holidays. Everyone is closing end-of-year accounts and there is a constant buzz about the halls.

Brigid has been especially buzzy as of late — she’s my superstar this month. Alone, she’s brought in three new clients and upgraded several others. She has so many clients on her plate, I thought her head might explode at the idea of Office Clean-Up Day. A whole day without addressing client files? It seemed like a lot to ask.

But, to my surprise, she’s ahead of schedule and thrilled to join the office in a low-key day of chore work. She passes my office door with an arm-full of papers.

“Next up, shredding!” she says to me with a smile. I can hear the loud crunch of the shredder already — Andy has been doing invoices for me all morning.

Businessman Shredding DocumentsBut then, a not so pleasant sound. The crunching turns to cracking and finally a loud thud.

“Andy!” Brigid shouts from down the hall. I leave my office to see what’s happened to our poor, old shredder.

“It wasn’t me! She’s an old girl,” Andy says pleadingly to a ticked-off Brigid.

“Sure,” Brigid rolls her eyes, “just like it wasn’t you who broke the toaster last month.”

“I didn’t know you couldn’t stick knives in there!” Andy says, seeming a bit defeated.

“Has the old shredder finally given out?” I interject.

“See?” Andy turns to Brigid, “old shredder.”

I give a laugh at Andy’s retort. Everyone has been working so hard for me today, and as it’s a day of new beginnings, it’s the perfect time to unveil something that just arrived last week. In all the excitement of the holidays, I completely forgot to unpack it.

“Hmmph,” Brigid sighs, “what are we going to do without our shredder?”

“I might have the answer…” I say, “just wait here.” Andy and Brigid exchange a puzzled look as I’m running out the door toward my office.

A short moment later, I’m back with the coveted package.

“Is that?…” Andy starts.

“The new Swingline® Stack-and-Shred!” I beam. It’s everything our old shredder was not. “Now, you won’t have to hang around in here shredding all day, Andy,” I say. “With this shredder, you just fill it with your stack of papers and walk away. It shreds up to 100-pages at a time.”

“I never thought I’d be so in love with an office supply,” Andy jokes while batting his eyelashes.

“Just, don’t stick any knives into it,” says Brigid.