Paper Clip Fight from Dan Carpenter

Here is one of my favorites from the 80s, specifically in 1983, in Kansas City at the 9th Marine Corps Recruiting District HQ.

I was with Pat for maybe six months and then our secretary left for a promotion. We hired a new one…we all hit it off and the office really hums. Pat, as you know, was not above having fun at work. One day Sandy, the new secretary (they were not called admins back then) and I were having a spirited conversation. I don’t recall now what it was about but at some point I was needling her. Soooo, she picked up a paper clip and threw it at me.
I threw one back at her and we tossed some more back and forth. I forget HOW Pat got involved but I know Sandy threw one at him. I looked at her, she looked at him (he was THE Major and the Boss) with a look of: what did I do now.

Never fear, Pat picked it up and threw it back and the fight was on. We had a full-on paper clip fight for several minutes. It ended when Sandy took a fistful of them out of the glass bowl on her desk and threw them at Pat and I in a hail of cheap aluminum. We surrendered as much because we were laughing too hard to throw them back. We spent the next half hour picking up paper clips off of the carpet, laughing the entire time. I think at some point the Marines in the outer office shut the door to the rest of the HQ so we didn’t wake anyone up.

In the 27 years since, I have never done anything in an office setting that was half as much fun as that episode and it never would have happened without the wonderfully healthy tone Pat set in the office: professional but not so tightly wired we couldn’t have fun.

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