Recently, I’ve become infamous around the office. Last week, I set the microwave on fire. I continue to contend that it wasn’t actually my fault, I just happened to be the next person to use the microwave before it decided to start smoking. Most people think I put metal in the microwave. If you call pasta metal, then yes, I put metal in the microwave. If not, well, I put pasta in the microwave.

It started smoking, lots of smoke, the second time I tried to cook my food. It smelled funny. So what did I do? First, I grabbed my food out of it, then unplugged the sucker. Then I had to go find the facilities manager and explain how I caught the microwave on fire. We all got a good laugh. I think people are still getting a good laugh. At least I wasn’t around when the dishwasher was overflowing with soap. Oh, wait, I was there for that, too. Man, I’m going to have a reputation…

Despite the endless entertainment I seem to be able to offer my fellow coworkers, I was able to observe an interaction the other day that makes it all worth it. I was, for whatever reason, running around the office, probably looking for coffee (it may seem like that’s all I do, look for coffee, and it might be true), and dropping something off downstairs in the branch. During the dizzying few minutes I was running around, I ran into Bill, our CEO, a couple of times.

The last time, however, was the most fortuitous. We were both walking up the stairs to the second floor, when all of a sudden, Bill stopped at the top of the stairs and bent down.

‘Look at those paperclips,’ he said, reaching out. ‘These are perfectly good paperclips.’

I sensed a dash of triumph in his voice, as if he were liberating the paperclips from some terrible fate, like the vacuum or dust bin, and that they had a higher purpose. But it was more than that. He was making sure nothing went to waste. Who knows how long those paperclips had been there, who knows how long they would have stayed. In my numerous trips up and down the stairs that day, I hadn’t notice them. But there they were, now in Bill’s hand, as he proudly walked back to his office. I have no doubt he dropped them in whatever cup or tray he keeps all his paperclips in, happy to be saving them from uncertain doom.

I laughed to myself about it. I mean, how often do you get to hear someone, anyone, say ‘These are perfectly good paperclips’? Not often. In fact, it was a first for me.

But as I settled back into my desk to field a few more phone calls, I realized that that simple action is the reason I love working at Verity, why I have full faith in Verity as a company to move forward and prosper, despite the current economic state, despite the housing crash, despite everything, really. We have a man in charge who is always looking for the perfectly good paperclips lying about, collecting them, and using them, never wasting.

When Bill talks about the coming year for Verity, for me it all circles back to this scene. We must be diligent. We have to be looking around for any positives, and grab them tight when we find them. If Bill can take the time to corral a few fallen paperclips and put them to good use clipping paper together, we can all find paperclips and put them to good use.

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4 Responses

  1. David Oaileyt Ruberg says:

    I loved reading “dust bin.”

  2. Lara Simmons says:

    I love this story and it’s just one of the things I have always felt – and loved – about Verity. Being a “perfectly good paperclip” person myself I appreciate that in a Credit Union and a Credit Union CEO. Thanks for sharing!

  3. shari storm says:

    Oh my gosh! I love this post. Not only are you a great writer, but you summed up our culture so articulately. I’ve been working on a post for ages that tried to do what you just did. I was going to write about our boardroom – and how absolutely frugal it is compared to other board rooms, but it fits our personality. I was also wondering what happened to our microwave. Now I know!

  4. Spot on and perfectly captures core principles straight from the top down. I vote to give Matthew Kingston a regular blogging gig. One has to wonder if Bill also has an eagle eye for errant rubber bands as well.

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