Paper Clip Dilemma

I was a lucky student at Virginia Tech from 1980-1984. I had a father who wrote me letters on a regular basis. They were always entertaining and thoughful. My father has been an inspiration and mentor my entire life. He passed away December 18th, 2009 and as I remembered back on the many talks we had, I recalled a letter he sent me in college. He had a great sense of humor and this letter has stayed with me over the years. I thought I had lost the letter but found it today and have decided to share a little of his sense of humor with you. I can't use or buy paper clips without this story in the back of my mind. He was a great man and will be missed.

February 1981
The Cold Warehouse
Bailey's Crossroads
Friday the 13th

Dear Cindy

There is something that has been puzzling me and causing me great concern for many years and I thought I better tell you about it. In offices all over the country in federal, state, and local governments as well as industry and universities there are cabinets, closets, and rooms that are used for storing office supplies. In each of these there are such things as paper, pencils, tablets, envelopes, carbon paper, paper clips, etc. The one that disturbs me is the paper clips. They usually come in little boxes of 100 and from time to time the workers get a box and dump it in their desk, or a special holder on their desk. Then, in the course of the day’s business, they use them to hold two or more pieces of paper together. The papers are then sent away from their desks to other desks or offices and the process continues. No problem so far, right? But wait, here it is.

Allowing for an attrition loss of 30 to 40% of the paper clips for such purposes of cleaning typewriters, ears, and what have you there is still a whole bunch of paper clips left. Where do all the paper clips go? Considering that fact that metal paper clips have been manufactured for the last 50 or 60 years, and that office workers have been emptying those little boxes for as many years, and there is not a 100% loss rate, then by now we should be up to our tushies in paper clips. But, strangely, we’re not! So, I ask you, WHERE ARE ALL THE DAMN PAPER CLIPS???????

Granted this is not one of the overwhelming concerns of today’s society, but it bothers me. I urge you to think about this and consider the following. I have developed a theory that could very well explain this phenomenon. You see I believe there is an outer celestial conspiracy that has alien beings collecting these paper clips and placing them in a very large room. A room perhaps the size of the Houston Astrodome. Some day, some poor unsuspecting schnook will come across a plain looking door and curiosity will get the better of him/her and upon opening it he will be buried alive in an avalanche of paper clips. Poetic justice will not come into play here because the schnook that opens the door will not be one of those who routinely wasted paper clips for cleaning his ears but will be a person like me that concerns himself with the preservation of our nation’s paper clips. So, beware of unmarked doors – it could be the one that has all those paper clips hidden behind it!

Now that I have exposed this problem to another caring mind I feel much better. I seek the truth in these matters and I’m reminded of a saying by Werner Erhard who stated “Obviously the truth is what’s so; not so obviously, it’s also so what.” Frank Lloyd Wright also reflected on the subject “The truth is more important than the facts.”

O.K. sport, that’s enough of this drivel. Hang in there!!!!!!!!

Love Ya
Pop

Comments

I like your father's humor. His love for you is also clear. While I am sad for your loss, I am very , very happy you had such a man for your father, and that you had a relationship with him that he would write you letters like this. You were, and always will be, blessed.

That was a great story and reminded me of of your dad when we were younger. He certainly loved you very much.