Airheads and Paperweights

Just a warning, today’s story has no connection to the Tar Heels at all. The object does. But not the story. My apologies. This will happen from time to time.

The Story Behind the Object

The stories you are about to read are true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I imagine that if you’re reading this then you’re too young to remember those opening lines from “Dragnet.” Truth be told, I’m too young to know them. I wanted to use an opening line similar to those frequently used on police dramas, so I Googled “name changed to protect” and the Dragnet Wiki popped up as the first result.

I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode of Dragnet. However, I used to love Mathnet. Love it. I would imagine if you don’t remember Dragnet, then you definitely don’t remember Mathnet. Not because it’s incredibly old, but mostly because it was incredibly niche. Mathnet was a parody of Dragnet that aired on PBS. It featured detectives using math skills to solve crimes, which I believe is also the premise of the modern day Odd Squad, a show which my 7-year-old enjoys watching.

The problem with Mathnet was that it came on Monday through Friday, with each episode of the week building on the previous one. Inevitably I would miss the Friday episode for one reason or another — either to go get an allergy shot or take my brother to speech or to go to the grocery store or who knows why — so I have countless unresolved episodes of the show floating around in my brain. Imagine watching the first 45 minutes of every episode of Law and Order, then turning off the television right before they unveil dramatic conclusion. That’s essentially my childhood experience with Mathnet.

But Mathnet is not the point of this column. The point of this column is to share a couple of humorous anecdotes about an individual with whom I used to work. Let’s call her Susie. (Her name isn’t really Susie. That’s where the “name changed to protect the innocent” comes into play. Though truth be told, I doubt she or anyone who would be offended by reading these stories about her also read this site. But we’ll call her Susie anyway, just to be cautious.) Now, I don’t like insulting people, but Susie is not the sharpest tool in the shed, if you know what I mean. Quite the opposite, in fact. So opposite, that to this day I still have a Word Doc on my computer named “Susie Stories,” where I documented some of her Hall of Fame worthy examples of ineptitude. I’ll share a couple here today, but there are so many I’ll save some others for future columns.

Susie Story 1

Suse was a micromanager. Despite being the head of the finance and administration department, she insisted on being the only person to shop for office supplies. No one else had access to the corporate card. Requests for supplies often flowed through me. One day I got an email from Jim (not his real name) in Sales. Jim asked for letter-sized manilla folders, as we only had legal-sized folders. Why didn’t he just live with the legal-sized folders? Mostly because all of our filing cabinets were letter-sized, rendering the legal-sized folders useless.

Susie was out of town for the week, so I emailed her to ask if I could go buy them. She replied and said she’d be back the following Monday and would go shopping over the weekend and bring them in first thing Monday morning. Monday afternoon, Susie walked into my office, and the following exchange occurred:

Susie: Do we have any manilla folders? The guys are looking for them. (“The guys” was how she always referred to anyone from Sales, regardless of whether she was speaking about one person or the entire department. No idea why.)

Me: We have legal-sized, but if you’re talking about Jim, he was looking for letter-sized, and we don’t have any of those. I emailed you about them last week.

Susie: Oh.

At this point, Susie looked down at the floor beside my desk, where there were two boxes of legal-sized manilla envelopes. I wish I could find an image of this box to adequately portray how comically large the word “legal” was written across the box (not to mention the fact that the box was, you know, legal-sized). I kid you not when I say it took up 20 percent of the length of the box and 100 percent of the width. The word legal was the most prominently displayed word or image on the box.

Susie: Oh, here are some.

Me: No, those are legal-sized.

Susie. Oh. So he wanted the smaller size?

Me: Yes.

Susie: Oh, I see.

There’s a long pause, and Susie then bends down and opens up the top box, apparently expecting me to be hiding letter-sized folders in the legal-sized box. The top box was nearly empty, so she took the remaining folders out of it, then opened the bottom box and combined the folders all into one box.

Susie: Good, we have a whole box then... So when you emailed me last week to ask me to buy folders — did you just forget we had these?

Me: Those are still legal. We still need letter.

Susie: Oh right, he’s looking for the smaller ones. Do we have any of those?

Susie Story 2

As referenced above, Susie was a micromanager. In addition to being the only person with access to the company credit card, she was also the only one with access to stamps. If you wanted something mailed, you had to leave it in the “outgoing” bin on the table outside of her office. She would then take each of these pieces of outgoing mail to the post office each day, despite the fact that we had a mailbox in front of our office where we could place outgoing mail.

One day, I had a check to mail to a vendor. Susie had signed it, as that was clearly something only she could do. I had then placed it in an envelope, addressed it and left it in the outgoing mail bin (stamp free, of course). After dropping it off, I went to check the mail, and there was an envelope addressed to Susie. So on my way back by the table outside her office, I tossed it into her incoming mail bin. I silently chuckled at the fact that there were now two pieces of mail in two completely separate bins that required her attention, when I could have easily stamped the one and placed it in the mailbox when I had gone out to check the mail. But she was the boss, so whatever. The next day, she came in my office and we had the following conversation:

Susie: So, X Vendor (name withheld to protect the innocent) sent us a pre-stamped envelope to mail our check back to them in?

Me: What?

Susie: That check you had me mail yesterday? To X Vendor?

Me: I haven’t written them a check.

Susie: Yes, you have. You put it in my box to mail.

Me (thinking she’s just confused about the vendor name): Oh, no, that was a check to Y Vendor.

Susie: Right, that one and the one for Vendor X. But the one for Vendor X had been metered and was ready to mail.

Me: Have you signed a check for Vendor X?

Susie: I don’t think so.

Me: That’s because I haven’t written one. Are you sure that wasn’t an envelope FROM Vendor X addressed TO you in your incoming bin?

Silence. The same envelope showed back up in our mailbox a couple of days later.

So why am I telling you these stories? Because these are office-themed stories, and today’s object is office-themed.


Carolina Collectibles Description

Today we have a basketball-shaped paperweight. This little beauty is just the right size to make sure your papers don’t go marching off your desk without permission.

It’s four inches tall, with the basketball sitting on a square base that is three inches by three inches. Made from wood, the paperweight features an interlocking NC with “University of North Carolina” written around it in a circle. The base says “Tar Heels.” Bonus points awarded for the fact they spelled it as two words.

It was manufactured by Grid Works, Inc., and made in the good ol’ U.S. of A. (Go Heels, Go America.) The craftsmanship is what you’d expect from an American-made item. All of the text, as well as the interlocking NC and the lines of the basketball, are actually whittled or etched or however you’d want to describe it into the ball — not just printed on. High-quality item.

Carolina Collectibles Comparison: Will Johnson

Much like the ginger from Hickory, this paperweight is fundamentally sound. It also serves a very distinct purpose (holding down paper), much like Will Johnson did (propping up the team GPA with his Morehead Scholarship academic performance). Unfortunately, neither Will nor the paperweight are overly memorable. Neither is thought of with any sort of malice at all, but that’s because neither is really ever thought of. On the rare occasion that they are, you think to yourself, “aw, that’s cute,” and then quickly move on with your life.

Carolina Collectibles Rating: 2 Stars

We’ll reserve the single star rating for objects that are poorly made or completely useless or have some other negative associated with them. But paperweights generally are not going to fetch a rating above two stars on any scale that includes items other than paperweights.