How you know you are in the right place – or – slime and substance

How do you know you have chosen the right profession?

Back in my communications days, my boss and I decided that a good way to give our investors the increasingly voluminous amounts of information they demanded was via a CD.  While everything the investors were looking for was on our website, they often wanted to have something physical (I know – I don’t understand it either.  But this was also more than three years ago.  Much has changed in the intervening years.  Or possibly much has not, but one of the things I learned in communications was that giving people what they wanted in the format they wanted it in was infinitely more effective than giving them what they wanted in a format they weren’t particularly interested in).

Since we already offered a standard information kit – a two-pocket folder filled with sheets of 8.5 x 11″ paper – the trick was how to get the CDs in their hands.  We didn’t want to abandon all of the paper, since you don’t need a computer to read paper, and an investor who grabbed our kit at a conference out of curiosity wasn’t going to boot up his or her laptop in order to find out if we were interesting enough to merit a visit to our presentation.  So we would stick with our folder and some of our paper.  But then what?  The heavier, odd-shaped CD was likely to slide out of the folder, leaving the meat of our information in some hotel hallway or Manhattan street.

Trust me, we’re getting to the library part soon.

So my boss and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: “What we need is some of that sticky goop that peels away.”

Boss: “What sticky goop?”

Me: “You know – the snot they stick plastic gift cards to the cardstock enclosure cards with.”

Boss:  “…” (Here I imagine that if he did not know me better, he would be thinking, “What kind of lunatic have I hired?”  Since he knew me quite well, he was probably thinking, “Yep, that’s our lunatic.”)

Me: “That way, the CD will stick to the folder, but the investors can peel the snot away and put it in a file if they want to [edit: I meant put the CD in a file – I am sure nobody wanted to file the snot].”

Surprisingly, this plan was decided to be sound.  Here’s where the library bit came in: I did not know how much the snot cost.  I did not know how the snot was dispensed.  I had no idea who to source the snot from.  I did not know what the snot was called in order to find out the answers to any of these questions. But the prospect of finding out was one that intrigued me.  I knew this was something that was something, just as a young law student might know that a party-giver who lets someone drunkenly drive away from his home has a possible legal problem on his hands but not how to begin researching it in legal sources until he has learned its name.

I did not know, but found out by a process of iterative searches that the snot is called fugitive adhesive.  The law student would find out that their issue is one of social host liability.  I hope two things for that imaginary law student: 1.) that he enjoys the process of finding out, and 2.) he does not bore his friends and colleagues with delight from the aptness of the term as I am liable to do to this day.*  But I do know that my love of the search and my delight in its result tells me (and not for the first time) that I have chosen the right profession.

*I mean really – how can you not love the term “fugitive adhesive”?

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