For Want of a Nail

I went to pick up my paycheck today from my pigeon hole in the mail room. There was a large envelope from Sandy in there, but no check! This was the second time my check had been missing. I went to the woman who distributes the checks and asked if I should have received one yesterday. She said, "Yes: I put it in your box myself. I recall very clearly." (She was obviously remembering the previous incident.)

We went to take a look. This time I leaned over further to take a look into the nearby pigeon holes. When I did so, I saw the my check had been pushed up by the large envelope, so that it stood upright against the near wall of the pigeon hole. Until one leaned past the edge of the hole and looked back, which meant unnaturally squeezing past a large table, it was completely invisible.

We both chuckled with relief. Mystery solved! But as I walked away, I wondered: how would things now be different if, when I left the room the first time, the breeze caused by my closing the door had disturbed the upright check, causing it to fall over and lay flat on the floor of the pigeon hole? When my colleague and I walked back in the room, the check would have been laying there in plain sight, visible as soon as one opened the door. My current report of not finding it would be hard to explain, and the incident of my previous lost check would start to look suspicious.

My colleague would not have to be someone particularly prone to gossip to mention to an administrator, "Professor Callahan is acting even more strangely than usual!" This, perhaps, could be enough to tip a close decision on, say, a promotion, which might lead to who knows what?

So much can ride on such tiny things!


  1. "Professor Callahan is acting even more strangely than usual!"

    That is a scary, scary thought ;-)

    1. Anonymous5:40 AM

      I was thinking the same thing.

  2. Replies
    1. Anonymous5:40 AM

      I was wondering the same thing.


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