The original version of this article contained some keywords not suitable for the workplace. Knowing that many of our readers visit the site from their workplaces, this article has been edited for content as a courtesy to our readers.

Alistair's IT department was in the midst of a long, hard move to new facilities. In addition to the regular pains of a growing company, their existing server room was ancient enough that security routinely had to chase Indiana Jones out of there. For IT, it was less, "move everything" and more "run two separate installations while we figure out what gets thrown away in the old one." At this point, everything remaining in the old office was going to get stuffed in the bin.

Stuffed in the bin after a thorough scrubbing. Alistair's employer was not going to leave behind any trade secrets or customer information. Beside every server rack, and upon every desk and filing cabinet, there was a clipboard with a checklist covering all of the decommissioning steps. All through the IT offices, disks churned and securely wiped while shredders digested CDs and paperwork.

Walking past one of the vacant offices, Alistair heard someone grumble, "No, you're putting it in wrong. Like that." A moment later there was a strained grunt followed by an "Ow!" Perplexed, he peeked around the door and saw two of his co-workers attacking a desk drawer with a pry-bar.

"What'd the desk do to deserve this abuse?"

"Drawer's locked," one of the guys said. Alistair saw why they were having trouble with it; it was a desk that dated back to an era where desks were designed to provide shelter against a nuclear blast. The drawers were made of heavy gauge steel with locks to match. Alistair decided to give them a hand with the prybar.

No one was prepared when the drawer gave way. Alistair found himself on the floor with a now misshapen drawer in his lap. The drawer was filled with a large, dark, plastic bag held closed with duct tape. "Who's desk was this?" Alistair asked as he freed himself and investigated the bag.


Alistair pried off the tape and took a peek inside the bag. It took a few moments for his brain to catch up to the message his eyes were sending. In the bag, was a ten inch long, black, rubber turkey baster, and an inflatable balloon animal, her mouth opened as if in surprise.

Alistair quickly closed the bag. After spending fifteen minutes in the restroom, washing his hands, Alistair called Derek's manager, Isabelle.

"Izzy," he said, "I've got a bag here with a gigantic rubber yardstick and a inflatable hot dog cart." He quickly explained that this was not a proposition, but a problem with one of her staff members. "I figured you'd want to deal with this."

It was immediately clear that she didn't want to deal with this, any more than Alistair had. So she called HR. HR's interest in dealing with this was someplace in another county, so they called Legal. A chain of meetings devoured the afternoon, and Alistair was called into each to bear witness as to the contents of the bag. For a few hours, there was no word, until someone from Legal called HR, who in turn called Izzy, who finally called Alistair.

"According to Legal," Izzy explained, "there is no tube sock policy in the employee handbook. Apparently, you could store a wall-plug the size of your fist on your desk, and not get into any trouble."

"Soooo...." Alistair murmured, trying his best to not visualize the office flush with the aforementioned desk décor.

"Um, call Derek and tell him you have his bag."

Keeping in mind the aphorism about hills, and how mud tends to roll down them, Alistair dutifully picked up the phone and called Derek. "Hey, we found a bag in your old desk," he said. "Would you like us to open it and let you know what it is?"

"No! No. That's quite alright. I'll, um, be right over."

Derek definitely broke the speed limit and probably several laws of physics to arrive at the old building only moments after Alastair hung up. He snatched the bag, obviously red faced from exertion. Derek had his bag of peripherals and Alistair never had to admit to knowing what it contained. Everyone was happy.

When the move was behind them, and the new IT facilities were thoroughly burned-in, Alistair noticed that one particular machine was downloading gigabytes and gigabytes of documentaries from the Internet. For this, there most certainly was an entry in the employee handbook. Alistair passed the information up the chain, and Derek was fingered as the culprit. He and his plastic bag of sporting goods were sent packing.

And to this day, the company still doesn't have a party-toy policy.

[Advertisement] BuildMaster allows you to create a self-service release management platform that allows different teams to manage their applications. Explore how!