Today I inaugurate what’s likely to be a periodic feature of these “comments,” and that is an occasional “business anecdote” — usually from a time long gone by.

I’m a sucker for anecdotes, and a sucker for business history. Here’s one not about some famous business pioneer, but simply about “Jim,” whose story came to my e-mailbox the last time I put out a call for anecdotes:

At my former company, “Jim,” a lawyer, was the financial Vice President. We had an abacus as a piece of decorative art in our lobby. It was about two feet by four feet and operational. One day I was showing the receptionist how to use it, when Jim walked by on his way to the rest room. As I was still there upon his return, he spoke to me. “I’m expecting our bankers any minute now, and it really doesn’t look very good for our professional staff to be ‘playing’ in the office.” I agreed, went back to my office, and thought nothing further of it.

Evidently it really upset the receptionist that he would speak to me like that. She was still fuming when the bankers arrived. Still upset, she escorted them directly to “Jim’s” office without announcing them over the intercom. They arrived to find “Jim” pasting “Blue Chip Stamps” into his stamp book.

[Note to younger readers: Blue Chip stamps are — were — well, oh never mind. I guess they were the “frequent flier miles” of the Fifties.]

Tomorrow: Publishers Clearinghouse


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