In the comments on another post, Jim writes "The Caplan post is real Callahan-bait..."

That made me think of a story.

I was working for an HMO in Virginia. I was the manager of an eight person intranet development team,  and Cynthia Esposito, my co-author for the article in that link, was my manager. Outside her office was a little hallway with a desk stuck in it. One of my team, Marcus, worked there, with his back to the passage to Cynthia's office.

One day I went to see my boss, but was stopped in my tracks by a pencil on the floor. I bent over, picked it up, and said, "Marcus, you dropped this."

He turned from his work and noticed me for the first time. "Oh no, I placed it there."

"You did? Why?"

"It's a Gene trap."

"A what?"

"Well, I needed to talk to you. I guessed you would come see Cynthia at some point during the day, but I wasn't sure I would notice you passing by. So I set a Gene trap: I knew you would never be able to walk over a pencil lying on the floor without taking care of the untidiness it represented."

Years later, when I mentioned the trap to Marcus, he said, "Yes, I often think of you when I watch Monk."


  1. It would have worked on me as well. Not that I'm an orderly person. But come on! The floor's no place for a pencil!


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