Death By a Thousand [Paper] Cuts


Paper cuts – the tiniest, most horrific injury that you don’t even get sympathy for.


I didn’t really appreciate the true pain of these little beasts until I found myself working at an insurance brokerage that used a drop filing system to store all client folders. From carbon paper to manila folders, these stationery assaults came fierce and frequent. There’d been a few intense filing days where I’d left the office sporting up to 3 band aids – I even started buying fun superhero ones to bring some entertainment to the situation.

But WHY does such a trifling tear induce such misery?

Here are a few factors contributing to your agony… 

You're sensitive

First of all, your hands and fingers are packed with more nerve fibers (nociceptors) than most other places on your body. Meaning when they catch even a small cut, your brain receives more complaints than the HR department at a packed call centre.

Paper's rough

Additionally, the edges of paper are rough, dull and flimsy, making the cut feel more like a slow incision by a microscopic hand saw than by a mere scrap of parchment. The rough surfaces on paper create shallow rips and tears, preventing the skin from closing to reduce exposure to air and other irritants. Most paper will also leave behind tiny fibers and chemicals in its wake of destruction, causing additional, prolonged irritation.

Pause to shudder…

You can help alleviate your torture by rinsing your cut and applying some pain ointment and a band aid or, as I strongly prefer, superglue that (insert adjective here) shut. The superglue closes your wound off to air and bacteria, allowing it to heal nicely, sans nasty sting.

Preventative measures are limited to personal diligence, or my (unsuccessful) approach of constantly promoting benefits of a paperless environment with the powers that be. Where I failed at convincing my brokerage to move to an automated software solution, you may still succeed!

Risking bacterial infection from a paper cut aside, the benefits of moving to paperless data files are bountiful:

  • expense saving;
  • less office and storage space used;
  • file protection and data integrity;
  • and better customer service.

Luckily, my career path has since led me into a paperless office where a paper cut is wondrously rare and approached with almost as much sympathy as a root canal.

Of the possible pulp products, what is the worst material you’ve experienced a cut with?


Topics: Workflow