70 discreetly numbered teaspoons
May 10, 2018 12:36 AM   Subscribe

 
Those numbers seem about right.

The break room at my first workplace opened directly into a warehouse area. I remember stepping through the door one day, glancing up and spotting about a dozen forks embedded in the ceiling, about seven meters up.
posted by colin.jaquiery at 1:11 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


I enjoyed this: thanks for posting this Vesihiisi: "counterphenomenological resistentialism" is a term that's new to me, but I can see it being a useful one. Don't overlook the 'supplementary material' link, which includes such gems as "The maintenance of an identical set of teaspoons in a locked but otherwise identical tearoom or cupboard could have been used to test for natural attrition."
posted by misteraitch at 1:15 AM on May 10 [27 favorites]


The American Cetacean Society blue whale fact sheet is still available, but has moved to http://www.acsonline.org/blue-whale.
posted by sfenders at 1:17 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I want to know how Tony Stewart reacted.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:19 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


This is good. I find there are similar problems with pens.

At my former workplace, we would go over to the big communal cafeteria to steal teaspoons for our own tearoom regularly. I suspect everyone else did that too, there were rarely many teaspoons. Where I work now, they have entirely given up on teaspoons. In general, they are extremely conscious of waste and environmental issues, but for teaspoons, we get those little disposable sticks.
posted by mumimor at 1:47 AM on May 10


My children would toss empty yogurt cups and the spoon into the trash. I didn't figure this out until we were down to the cat food spoon.
posted by moonlily at 1:54 AM on May 10 [68 favorites]


Stircle: It stirs without sticks.
posted by crysflame at 2:14 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


In every office I've worked in it's forks. Apparently cutlery loss varies by geographical location. We also tend to accumulate tupperware.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:26 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


In the newsroom I used to work in, it was forks. Journalists would generally grab takeaway coffee from the local cafe, but eat lunch or dinner at their desks (often leftovers from home). Hence, forks, not teaspoons. The process for convincing someone in power to actually *pay* for new forks was so opaque (Requisition forms! Purchase orders! Approval by multiple levels of management!) that I would just buy a handful of forks from an op-shop every year or so and dump them in the kitchen drawer. Since I worked the very early shift, no-one ever figured out where the forks came from; I was the newsroom's secret fork fairy. I still have no idea where all those forks ended up.
posted by embrangled at 2:31 AM on May 10 [48 favorites]


The American Cetacean Society blue whale fact sheet is still available, but has moved to http://www.acsonline.org/blue-whale.

Whales are taking them?
posted by pracowity at 2:50 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


Paul Jennings' Report on Resistentialism
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:14 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I still have no idea where all those forks ended up

most likely in the garbage, along with the empty takeout container they were used with
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:21 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


My life is measured out in coffee spoons...

----------------

"Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the colour blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to ballpoint life forms. And it was to this planet that unattended ballpoints would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely ballpointoid lifestyle, responding to highly ballpoint-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the ballpoint equivalent of the good life.

And as theories go this was all very fine and pleasant until Veet Voojagig suddenly claimed to have found this planet, and to have worked there for a while driving a limousine for a family of cheap green retractables, whereupon he was aken away, locked up, wrote a book and was finally sent into tax exile, which is the usual fate reserved for those who are determined to make fools of themselves in public.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

--------------

Also, mysterious household object migrations in history.
posted by Devonian at 3:23 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


In every office I've worked in it's forks.

That is because of your grasping and clinging nature. If you freely surrendered them to the universe, different forks would arise to replace them, according to the “fork give and fork get” doctrine.

Also, I love that the study has been cited so often.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:33 AM on May 10 [26 favorites]


we set out to answer the age old question “Where have all the bloody teaspoons gone?”

Where I work we toss the bloody ones in a special hazmat receptacle.
posted by chavenet at 4:02 AM on May 10 [43 favorites]


Oh, this is timely. Last weekend, while sorting through my cutlery drawer in preparation for a move, I found two forks that don't match mine and must be from the office. I've been carrying them in my purse all week, forgetting to put them back. I guess that's how I got them in the first place.
posted by third word on a random page at 4:11 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


This is the finest introduction to the scientific method for children
posted by alloneword at 4:12 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


The spoons are in the same place as the socks.
posted by Billiken at 4:19 AM on May 10 [13 favorites]


I have a theory about pens, that also applies to small screwdrivers in labs, and likely teaspoons in the workplace ....

Basically it's that in order to to have an item available, within reach, when you need them, you need to dissolve enough of them into the environment that you have a saturated solution, they precipitate out as needed

I buy pens by the box, spread them around
posted by mbo at 4:21 AM on May 10 [67 favorites]


Whales are taking them?

Non-specialists in the field of cutlery migration, as I assume most of us here are, can hardly be expected to understand the credibility or meaning of this study without checking out its references. I suppose you didn't read about the sea turtles of Mozambique, either.
posted by sfenders at 4:24 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


I just realised that this is the article this post reminded me of reading years ago. Shame really, I had hoped there were two.

I know I'm responsible for teaspoon losses. I stay well out of the fork issue by keeping mine in my desk.

They need to issue a fork and teaspoon with ones staff card, with holes in them to hang on the lanyard.
posted by kitten magic at 4:31 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


BTW my favorite quote from the paper is:

"People have no control over teaspoon migration; escape to a spoonoid planet and resistentialism are equally plausible explanations"
posted by mbo at 4:32 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]




If program-linked tearoom spoons had a half-life of 77 days, and communal tearoom spoons have a half-life of 42 days, how did they come up with a total half-life of 81 days?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:43 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


No one admitted to the permanent removal of a teaspoon from the institute, and no plausible explanations were advanced for the high rate of teaspoon loss.

Monsters.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:47 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


A freshly-minted well-compensated MBA's response to this would be to announce, on the first day of a new office, that there will only be as many teaspoons procured as there are staff members; because obviously as spoons disappear, each employee will now have a spoon of their own and not need communal spoons any more.

The executive breakroom will be exempt from this policy because of the higher priority of time over material for continued productivity among these most valued members of the company.
posted by at by at 5:04 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


... in order to to have an item available, within reach, when you need them, you need to dissolve enough of them into the environment that you have a saturated solution

I bought 100 small screwdrivers for this purpose about 6-8 years ago. They disappeared. I bought another 100, and they disappeared too. The bag containing the third hundred is nearly empty.
posted by StephenB at 5:09 AM on May 10 [18 favorites]


Maybe could solve our waste disposal problems by recycling everything into plastic teaspoons. Every home and office gets a monthly shipment and puts it in the cutlery drawer.
posted by condour75 at 5:11 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Years ago after becoming fed up with this question my mom declared that teaspoons are not silverware and no longer keeps them in the drawer with the knives and forks. They sit in a coffee mug on the kitchen counter. It seems to have solved all teaspoon management problems.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:13 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Back in college, we replenished the fraternity cutlery drawer by requiring the pledges to bring one full set each from their dorm dining room. Then there was the year that one pledge misunderstood and somehow got out of the dining room with one full set for each person in the fraternity. We were good on forks and spoons for a couple of years after that.
posted by COD at 5:18 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


I have a theory about pens, that also applies to small screwdrivers in labs, and likely teaspoons in the workplace ....

Basically it's that in order to to have an item available, within reach, when you need them, you need to dissolve enough of them into the environment that you have a saturated solution, they precipitate out as needed

I buy pens by the box, spread them around


This is my theory too, only I apply it to scissors. Growing up, my mom had two pairs of nice scissors in the kitchen and when they inevitably disappeared (borrowed by my brother and I to cut whatever), there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. So now every single time I go to Ikea I buy two of their three-scissor packs and leave them all around the house, in the garden, in my work bag, in the car. I probably own 35 pairs of scissors and I always have one within reach! It's amazing.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:27 AM on May 10 [21 favorites]


My husband does the saturation thing with reading glasses. In our old place, they all migrated to one particular spot and when we moved a friend who was helping us found 18 pairs there. I don't know where that spot is, in the current house.

Me, I have mobility challenges, so my reading glasses don't get lost. I have two pairs, one on my desk and one in the living room, and they are always there. One advantage of struggling to walk, I guess - you just don't lose glasses, pens, scissors, etc.
posted by elizilla at 5:39 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Basically it's that in order to to have an item available, within reach, when you need them, you need to dissolve enough of them into the environment that you have a saturated solution, they precipitate out as needed

Yes! I do this too, with black Sharpies and micro-USB cables.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:44 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


What is this world coming to if a single sock can't run away and have a little romance with a teaspoon without all the bickering. It's not like spoons come in pairs.

Also, the saturation theory is nice. My wife is doing that with garden slippers, leaving a pair or two at each door, but they still eventually coalesce into a heap at the garage door.

Myself, I'm partial to tape measures.
posted by Laotic at 6:01 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


People walk away stirring their hot beverages, eventually setting mug and spoon aside to be returned to the kitchen later. The spoon is small, so it gets shuffled into a drawer with the pens and paperclips and takeout chopsticks. Later, the owner of the desk discovers it while looking for a pen, thinks that the spoon really should be returned, but is distracted by unsuccessful pen hunt, unsuccessful because the pen is currently living in a colleague’s ergonomic backpack.

The spoon waits in the dark, wondering why it was brought to this office only to be discarded. It had imagined a life spent delighting in hot beverages, and the occasional soup, but now it exists to be continually rejected as not a pen.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:08 AM on May 10 [34 favorites]


In every office I've worked in it's forks. Apparently cutlery loss varies by geographical location. We also tend to accumulate tupperware.

I think you may be on to something here. It seems likely that cutlery metamorphoses into plastic containers. Furthermore, forks become lids and spoons become containers (or vice versa) which explains why the numbers of lids and containers never match.

In medical environments stethoscopes have a tendency to disappear to parts unknown.
posted by TedW at 6:21 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


In medical environments stethoscopes have a tendency to disappear to parts unknown.

This is a remarkably disturbing sentence....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:26 AM on May 10 [35 favorites]


I have strewn cheap scissors around my house in obvious visible places so that no one ever ever ever searches for and uses my carefully hidden and packed away nicely sewing shears for anything ever.

I have always also hidden a personal set of cutlery in my desk at work. But it has, for no logical reason, two identical teaspoons.
posted by crush at 6:28 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I have always also hidden a personal set of cutlery in my desk at work. But it has, for no logical reason, two identical teaspoons.

I have a habit of NEVER eating at my desk. My "Lunch Hour" is sacred space, and I'm not spending it at my desk. With that said, my "Plan B" is a set of chopsticks in a drawer. Just in case. Thankfully, I have never needed to use them.
posted by mikelieman at 6:33 AM on May 10


Right. "Spoon shifters" is my new go-to insult. Have you seen what those spoon shifters in Washington have done today?
posted by Quindar Beep at 6:38 AM on May 10 [11 favorites]


I was gifted from a friend of mine some swag from her company. She gave me like 100 already sharpened red Self magazine pencils. It was sort of a wild joke but I was delighted because I was working at the college woodshop that summer and we were always having trouble losing pencils. I put little bundles of them wherever pencils should go. People thought it was strange, these red pencils just kept appearing. Slowly they all disappeared. Six months later I had the joy of seeing an administrator in another building pull out one of my pencils to mark something on a credits worksheet we were filling out. I like to think they are still being used today. Who knows where pencils come from....
posted by amanda at 6:41 AM on May 10 [13 favorites]


I probably own 35 pairs of scissors and I always have one within reach! It's amazing.

Someday many years from now your heirs will be cleaning out your house and will wonder, “what is up with all the scissors?”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:43 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


Her heirs are Jerry Seinfeld?
posted by Quindar Beep at 6:45 AM on May 10 [14 favorites]


More or less related short story : Or All The Seas With Oysters (pdf) by Avram Davidson
posted by Death and Gravity at 6:52 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


When I looked at the top of the page to see where this article was published, I was not at all surprised that it was in the BMJ Christmas issue.
posted by TedW at 6:56 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I have a dream of doing a similar saturation strategy for measuring teaspoons. Buy a bunch of them and just leave them in the stuff that gets measured (cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, etc). No more looking for them or having to wash and dry them immediately after use to measure the next thing. In the US you can get them super cheap from chemical supply stores. I wouldn't want to be stopped at the border with 100 measuring teaspoons but I'll probably risk it the next time I go to the States.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:28 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


Someday many years from now your heirs will be cleaning out your house and will wonder, “what is up with all the scissors?”

The Weaver?
posted by Scattercat at 7:30 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


There's a bunch of forks and spoons that wander from my workplace into our cutlery drawer then over to my husband's workplace and back into our cutlery drawer and so on and so on forever and ever amen.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:35 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


The pens thing led me to only ever write in purple and pink glitter pen ink at work, which largely prevented their theft and also made our board meeting minutes extremely fabulous.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:41 AM on May 10 [38 favorites]


To be thorough, this is a 13 year old double, but it's clearly past the memory horizon and should probably stick around.
posted by zamboni at 7:42 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


Stircle: It stirs without sticks.

Yep, but try using that thing without a lid and you'll end up wearing your coffee.
posted by zamboni at 7:44 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


In my office it was always the corporate branded coffee cups. They had a nice colour and consequently migrated into pockets at an alarming rate.

So, every six months I would go to the thrift store and spend twenty bucks on a big cardboard box of the ugliest fifty cent coffee cups I could find. Awkward golf jokes, crude birthday slogans, cringe-worthy Christmas iconography. It didn't stop the theft, but it slowed considerably, and sitting in status meetings with the director of our department while he sipped decaf out of a three-tone orange/brown mug that said CATHY CATHY CATHY was alone worth the cost.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:46 AM on May 10 [18 favorites]


... in order to to have an item available, within reach, when you need them, you need to dissolve enough of them into the environment that you have a saturated solution

I bought 100 small screwdrivers for this purpose about 6-8 years ago. They disappeared. I bought another 100, and they disappeared too. The bag containing the third hundred is nearly empty.


In my house it's chargers -- both the USB plugs and micro USB / lightning cables. I buy them by the dozen and they "disappear" into the ether. (I know it's my husband. He is constantly taking the one I'm actively using. After a huge fight over it I started this bulk-buying approach. He STILL takes the one I'm using rather than visiting the plug-and-cable canister I keep stocked. Then I have to visit the canister. Repeat ad infinitum.)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:48 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


To be thorough, this is a 13 year old double, but it's clearly past the memory horizon and should probably stick around.

Someone in the old thread claims this is a spoof. Is it a spoof? Please tell me it isn't a spoof. I want this to be accurate research.
posted by graventy at 7:49 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


To be thorough, this is a 13 year old double, but it's clearly past the memory horizon and should probably stick around.

What is the half-life of posts about missing tea-spoons? How fast do they pass the memory horizon? Perhaps we should do a study...
posted by nubs at 8:04 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Discretely marked teaspoons... is perhaps one clue to a few of the disapperances. The teaspoons were marked with a dot of red nail polish, and presumably a number on the nail polish. For a small subset of people, which I absolutely totally, categorically and emphatically assert I could not possibly be one, finding such a marking on an otherwise ordinary teaspoon is irresistible impetus to remove such a mark. Of course if I know that marks like this are supposed to be on the teaspoons I would not remove them, but would sort them. Finding just one teaspoon in a given week with such a mark would make me think it had wandered into the research institute from some other location, and that the mark was branding it an interloper. I would also assume it was not in the teaspoons best interests to be singled out this way, when it likely would wish to remain anonymous and undetected as an interloper. So I would remove the little Star of David with a non-stick-coating safe plastic scraper.

I would therefore like to suggest that some of the teaspoons in circulation at the time of assessing results were in fact anonymized teaspoons. However I would also like to point out that no effort was made in the study to compare the inflow of teaspoons brought in by people who had yogurt in their lunch, or left over soup, and did not trust the institute to have teaspoons readily available, nor the fact that marked teaspoons may have been shunned by a few people who noticed them, or collected by the odd soul who found them intriguing.

Worse, not knowing the source or reason for these dot-with-number markings, there are people - I don't know any such, mind - who are capable of putting extremely similar markings on teaspoons that they then return to the collection, using different colours of nail polish, all in the hope of obtaining a greater personal sense of connection to the institute where I work. Up thread we have heard about people further skewing the studies results by buying bulk teaspoons and bring them in.

Many years ago my mother started a collection of household items, with an eye to furnishing a house with only things that were clearly marked as other people's property. She was like that. Several of our teaspoons were very nice, heavy duty silver plate clearly marked with Ritz Carleton Hotel. Our towels had the large letters YWCA in red woven into them. One of our curtains was patterned in the 1970's Amtrak logo... She had a darned hard time getting that one as it was the divider between one area on the train and the next and she had to wait until three in the morning on an overnight route to get it off its hooks and into her bag. Her fellow passengers must have thought she had a bladder infection because she ambled down to the amenity section of the train so often. I think she lost interest and gave up on the project when one of her break-ups resulted in the current lover leaving with a number of prized items in the collection.

But I have not inherited any of her whimsical inventiveness.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:21 AM on May 10 [50 favorites]


your mother's crime spree delights me, thank you.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:24 AM on May 10 [23 favorites]


Jane the Brown is an early winner of the internets this morning.
posted by MiraK at 8:26 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Someone in the old thread claims this is a spoof. Is it a spoof? Please tell me it isn't a spoof. I want this to be accurate research.

What Wilder actually says is:
Each year the Christmas edition of the BMJ is "spoof" articles. The methodology is as close to authentic as possible but the subject matter is hilarious.
I'd read those as scare quotes, more or less. They're using the word to mean jokey, not fake. Not how I'd use it, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
BMJ Christmas articles are definitely real in methodology and results, but decidedly unserious in subject matter.
posted by zamboni at 8:36 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Where have all the bloody teaspoons gone?

I find there are similar problems with pens.

This makes perfect sense as soon as you understand the life cycle of these things. Teaspoons and pens take themselves off behind the wardrobes when they know nobody is looking, and then they mate and pupate inside; that's where wire coathangers come from.
posted by flabdablet at 8:49 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Then why can I never find a wire coathanger when I need one? I always have to go buy them from the drycleaner.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:03 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


There's a particular kind of wardrobe they always pick. After a while you learn to spot them by how they smell when you open the doors. If you get one of those and just leave it in your spare room, it won't be long before you're hearing faint bumping and jangling from inside as newly hatched hangers jockey for space on the railings.
posted by flabdablet at 9:14 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


With me it's balaclavas. I wear one whenever I step outside for a walk or whatever in winter. First I bought 3 or 4 of them, then 15. They all disappeared over the course of a few years. Then the last batch was 30 or 40. I keep them in various drawers, coat pockets, backpacks etc so one is always at hand as needed.

Anyway, I have not only saturated our entire HOUSE with balaclavas, but in fact our entire NEIGHBORHOOD.

Like I'll be walking down the street and notice a sad little pile of black fabric. "Ha-ha, what idiot loser dropped a SOCK on the side of the road," say I. Being the helpful neighborhood cleaning fairy that I am, I naturally pick it up to dispose of it in the nearest trash can--and discover it is a BALACLAVA.

MY balaclava.

Of course.

This has happened to me multiple times over the past couple of years since buying the large box of balaclavas.

It is helped along, of course, by the fact that bits of trash will sit around our neighborhood for literally months with no one touching them. So it is something like a "conservation of trash" law, where if you drop something it will stay there for a week, a month, a year, whatever, until you happen to come around again. We'll break into your house and ransack it thoroughly, yes, but NOBODY bothers your trash.

It is sacred.
posted by flug at 9:19 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


With me it's balaclavas. I wear one whenever I step outside for a walk or whatever in winter. First I bought 3 or 4 of them, then 15. They all disappeared over the course of a few years.

Ah! That explains your deep knowledge about extra-dimensional wormholes in washing machines.
posted by flabdablet at 9:36 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I personally don't have an issue with missing teaspoons but on my walk to work everyday I pass about almost a dozen tablespoons laying on the street. So if anyone is missing any I can mail them to you.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:43 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Have you seen what those spoon shifters in Washington have done today?

they walk like crabs

posted by flabdablet at 9:51 AM on May 10


I solved the mystery at my house: stolen one by one for dope rigs :-(

PSA: that, and spoons blackened on the bottom can be tells for your relatives being on junk.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:07 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Stircle: It stirs without sticks.

Yep, but try using that thing without a lid and you'll end up wearing your coffee.


I can't imagine a device like that ending up with a good safety record in public coffee shop settings...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:09 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


No Wire Hangars!
posted by evilDoug at 10:27 AM on May 10


WIth us it is rolls of paper towels (somehow I find them in every room in the house, often in groups of three, but never on the paper towel holder in the kitchen).

And believe it or not, pots and pans. We once lost a wok, and searched cabinets and unlikely places to no avail. Weeks later, my cat was meowing incessently at a cabinet, I went to see if there was a rodent in there or something... and it was the wok. Right in front, unmissable.

Last night a very distinctive red and white saucepan went AWOL. But I rest easy knowing that when it returns from its interdimensional journey, one of the dogs will alert me to its reappearance.
posted by Foosnark at 10:33 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Sometimes my reading glasses go missing for minutes at a stretch when they're right on my head.
posted by flabdablet at 10:41 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Today I learned: Tearooms : Australia :: Breakrooms : United States

(and if that's not accurate, then I'd really like to know what a tearoom is.)
posted by hydra77 at 10:43 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


From my UK understanding, a tearoom is essentially a cafe.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:48 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


The only Sharpies I can ever find are dried up. I throw them out, buy new ones, and am certain that I am just buying single-use sharpies, which is kind of expensive, but probably a smart marketing move.
posted by theora55 at 10:58 AM on May 10


We have spoons aplenty in our work kitchen/lunch area, it's forks that you have to hunt for. I keep one in my desk drawer b/c I've grown tired of trying and failing to use a spoon to eat my pasta. It's my dedicated "lunch fork" and it always stays with me.

Occasionally someone will bring a 100 pack of plastic forks but those also seem to vanish into thin air. I suspect most people use them only once and don't bother to wash a plastic fork for reuse.
posted by Fizz at 11:09 AM on May 10


Sell spoons from a work vending machine. Give the profits to a charity.
posted by pracowity at 11:19 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I’m still amazed that I worked for almost three years in the same kitchen and NEVER LOST A SHARPIE. I would use one sharpie all day every day until it ran out, and then get another one from my box of sharpies in my locker. I was a God.

The trick was keeping it tucked in my hat by my ear, never putting it in a pocket, and if I lent it to ANYONE I would keep the cap so they couldn’t just like toss it into their pocket (a trick I might have learned here, actually).
posted by Grandysaur at 11:40 AM on May 10 [20 favorites]


oh my god the cap trick is fucking genius
posted by poffin boffin at 12:27 PM on May 10 [9 favorites]


I was deeply into cool pens for a while -- fountain pens in particular -- and started bringing them to work. And then my boss, while looking over my shoulder at some code, picked one up and started banging on the table with it. I'm surprised my teeth grinding wasn't louder than that. I didn't notice that he'd walked off with my pen when he left, but I searched his desk for it later and recovered it.

I stuck with dumb boring pens at work after that.
posted by Foosnark at 12:43 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


My socks evolution. Few years ago to reduce time spent & annoyance on matching socks I started buying the most colorful distinct patterned socks possible. Bright pink, puppies, orange stripes, etc. This worked quite well for several years – socks still got lost, but matching the remaining ones was easier.

The system reached it's tipping point earlier this year. I had so many bright, colorful socks that I couldn't just match a pair with a quick glance anymore. So my next step was to convince myself that matching socks is just a social convention that I shouldn't care about. So, lately I've been just wearing whatever two (brightly colored/ patterned) socks that I grab on most days.

Most people don't notice or are polite enough not to say anything even at corporate job. However, I do still feel little self-conscious. I might go back to bright matching socks system, but have a dictatorial process in place to banish every sock in the house once a year whether they've behaved or not.
posted by zeikka at 1:41 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Basically it's that in order to to have an item available, within reach, when you need them, you need to dissolve enough of them into the environment that you have a saturated solution, they precipitate out as needed

I always seemed to have a guitar pick at hand even years after quitting playing the guitar.
posted by Quonab at 1:51 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]




"The pens thing led me to only ever write in purple and pink glitter pen ink at work, which largely prevented their theft and also made our board meeting minutes extremely fabulous."

I only use green pens for much the same reason, and it makes the theft culprits IMMEDIATELY OBVIOUS.

I still have a few things I liberated from my college dining hall, I keep them in my china cabinet next to the good china.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:53 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


80+ comments and nobody has quoted The Tick's Battle Call?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:43 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I only use green pens for much the same reason, and it makes the theft culprits IMMEDIATELY OBVIOUS.

I used to hockey-tape my lighters for precisely the same reason.

It helped that I was a Canadian in the US midwest (it was wrasslin' and football country) - no-one ever gave me crap when I demanded my lighter back at parties.
posted by porpoise at 3:50 PM on May 10


Nowadays, I still lose lighters, but to ineffable wormhole vortices.

When the gas station got a pallet of Bic slim lighters (still manufactured in France!), I bought the whole thing, much to the attendant's amusement.
posted by porpoise at 3:52 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Yesterday at my volunteer job there was a sign up asking for all the spoons back because we are down to four of them. Usually it's the forks missing, now it's the spoons. But never the knives.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:17 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


My Dad was an EMT and compulsively had trauma shears everywhere. To the tune of 30+ pair. When his chief handed us his flag at his funeral, we discreetly handed him a pair of shears back. The look of grief and laughter on his face is something I’ll never forget.
Then we started finding the hammers...
posted by beckybakeroo at 6:55 PM on May 10 [21 favorites]


I used to hockey-tape my lighters for precisely the same reason.

Back in the concert days, a dozen turns of duct tape on my lighter made it real easy to tell which one was mine.

And if I needed a foot of duct tape, there it was.
posted by mikelieman at 8:40 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


> Ah! That explains your deep knowledge about extra-dimensional wormholes in washing machines.

Oh, yes. This is all leading up to my forthcoming announcement of Flug's Miraculous Moebius Balaclava, which will simultaneously be the culmination of my life's creative work and the invention the makes me rich as Croesus.

The Miraculous Moebius Balaclava is guaranteed to be 100% wormhole resistant. No matter how many wormholes it may pass through--in your washer, your dryer, the back of your closet, the back of your cupboard, the back of your silverware drawer, the hamper under your stairs, the inside pocket of your winter coat, the furthest recesses of your oldest pair of galoshes, or even under a hefty pile of old Douglas Adams paperbacks--the Miraculous Moebius Balaclava will always remain completely invariant, topologically speaking.

Just try THAT with your ordinary balaclava!
posted by flug at 9:56 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Someday many years from now your heirs will be cleaning out your house and will wonder, “what is up with all the scissors?”

Nah, I'm pretty sure this will be one of those "My grandma is more eccentric than your grandma" things they use to one-up their friends, because by the time I have grandchildren I'll have accumulated thousands of scissors, assuming Ikea never stops making them.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:32 AM on May 11


Beyond true. There was an exec admin at my last company who would go to goodwill and buy a giant tray of cutlery every six months. And it was always... ALWAYS... just.... absorbed.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:50 PM on May 11


This is my theory too, only I apply it to scissors. Growing up, my mom had two pairs of nice scissors in the kitchen and when they inevitably disappeared (borrowed by my brother and I to cut whatever), there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. So now every single time I go to Ikea I buy two of their three-scissor packs and leave them all around the house, in the garden, in my work bag, in the car. I probably own 35 pairs of scissors and I always have one within reach! It's amazing.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 8:27 AM on May 10 [19 favorites +] [!]


I’m baffled that one would be in such constant need of things to cut....
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:54 PM on May 11


I had a personalized engraved Spaghettios brand spoon from when I was a kid. I used it every day at work for three years until it went missing.

There was an asshole who worked there who hated my guts and was known for doing mean, spiteful pranks to folks he didn't like (shitting in a pizza box and then smushing said pizza box on someone's windshield, for example). I have no proof, but I'm pretty sure he stole it. I mean, I was the only "Jill" in the building, so if I had strayed from my daily habit of putting the spoon in my desk drawer, I'm pretty sure someone would return that Spaghettios spoon with "Jill" engraved on it.

I ran into him last year at an open house, over ten years since we'd worked together, and I could NOT get out of that building fast enough.
posted by jillithd at 7:22 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I’m baffled that one would be in such constant need of things to cut....

You know the phrase, if you give a kid a hammer everything looks like a nail? It's like that.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 8:01 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The Miraculous Moebius Balaclava is guaranteed to be 100% wormhole resistant.

That's all very well, but I have to say I'm not best pleased with the prototype you sent me to try out. The only way I could make it fit was by shaping my head into a Klein bottle; as such it no longer has an inside for my brain not to fall out of, and I also can't work out how to take the balaclava off. Advice please?
posted by flabdablet at 10:28 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


We never had a problem with disappearing spoons, but instead suffered from not enough clean spoons. They get used for everything and tossed in the sink. My mother finally got tired of us complaining about never having clean spoons (I mean, who would ever want to hand wash a spoon?) that she got us a half dozen mismatched spoons from the thrift store for Christmas one year.

It’s nice to have them, but me, being a guy, prefer the comfortable and perfectly designed spoons that are part of our matched flatware set and will only use the new spoons when all the good ones are in the sink or dishwasher.
posted by lhauser at 8:29 PM on May 14


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