I am down to about three paper clips in my home office.
Where did they go? It brought back memories of when I
was employed. I was picking up supplies one day in the office
supply room when a co-worker walked by.
Seeing the box of paper clips in my hand, he remarked,
“Why do we ever have to replenish our supply of paper
clips? No one ever throws one away. They should be constantly
re-circulating throughout the office.”
“Good point, Bob,” I replied. “Why don’t you and I see if
we can unravel this mystery?”
“Nope, sorry,” was his smug reply. “I’m an old Army intelligence
officer, and I don’t work with amateurs.”
By Mil Misic
mvmisic@comcast.net
11
I whipped out my old IRS badge, bearing my secret code
name, “$.001. (Get it? My name is mil with a small “m,” —
it’s a tenth of a cent) and said, “With whom do you think
you’re dealing?”
I could see he was somewhat impressed, and though
not totally convinced of my sleuthing talents, he agreed to
meet me while the office staff was out to lunch.
At first, we found nothing amiss in the first cubicle, but,
as we were leaving, I observed, “Do you notice anything
strange about those framed snapshots on the wall, Bob?”
“Yes,” he agreed. “Those are the weirdest looking kids
I’ve ever seen.”
“No, no, you ninny,” I exclaimed. “I mean how crookedly
they are hung?”
Taking down one of the framed snapshots and turning
it over, we saw that crude picture hooks had been fashioned
from bent paper clips.
“There’s part of our answer,” I said. “Flagrant misuse of
five paper clips. They’ll never be used as paper clips again.”
Moving on to a secretary’s desk. Bob could find no violations,
but, as a fellow secretary, I knew just where to
look. I took out the removable tray in the middle drawer
and exposed an 18-inch necklace made out of linked paper
clips. By this time, Bob knew he was working with a real pro.
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As we passed the photocopier in various stages of disassembly,
we heard the repairman cry out, “Why do people
always leave paper clips on the photocopier? There’s your
problem,” he said, pointing into the bowels of the machine.
Three twisted, almost-beyond-recognition paper clips
were stuck in the mechanism.
We continued our search of the cubicles, looking under
keyboards of the computers, file boxes, etc. “Don’t forget
the corners of the desk blotter holders, “I reminded Bob.
“Boy! You do know your stuff,” he grudgingly admitted.
About 12:55 p.m., we had accounted for a large
number of unorthodox uses of paper
clips. Just as we were tallying them up,
a co-worker came limping in with the
straps of her sandals held together
with (of all things) a paper clip.
Seconds later, Bob pointed excitedly at
an accountant returning to his desk, “Look,
there’s a man with a sterling silver toothpick.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I chided. “Take another
look. It’s a straightened paper clip.” (Another
paper clip that would never hold two pieces
of paper together.)
By now, he was so impressed that all he could murmur
13
was, “Wow!”
One cubicle remained to be searched. Everything looked
normal. Or was it? Why was the desk locked?
“Step back,” Bob said. “I’ll have that open in a second.”
“Bob,” I shouted, “what are you doing?”
“I’m picking the lock,” he calmly replied.
“But what are you using?” I shrieked.
“Oh, my gosh,” he moaned, “a paper clip.”
Case closed.

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