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The Shredder

secret“Can I talk to you?” the super asked over his cell phone.

“Sure,” I said, waiting for him to say something.

 “No, not on the phone. It’s too risky.” 

“Huh?” I thought he was kidding, but realized he wasn’t.

“You didn’t shred these,” he looked at me accusatorily as he handed over a fistful of rumpled pages he’d pulled from my trash.

 “Shred them?” I stared back blankly as I examined the maple-syrup covered papers.

 “The applications,” he said in earnest. In truth he was trying to protect me, by not turning me over to the powers that be – even though I was one of those powers, albeit one in the opposition camp — who apparently had instituted a paper alert, like the terrorist alert, only without color coding. The purpose was to smoke out the non-shredding board member who they thought was making it possible for staff members to read all the stuff submitted by would-be residents of High Rise Society, although I hadn’t seen any evidence that staff had breached such secrets.

“These aren’t applications,” I laughed to myself at the notion that I was being fingered as a rule-breaking co-conspirator. “They’re old budgets,” which was even more ridiculous because no one ever read them when we made them available each year—except for the same two people — so why would they go through the trash looking for what they could, but did not, access at the click of a mouse.

“Just following orders,” he stuffed the papers back in the garbage bag, realizing it had been a false alarm.

“Sure,” I understood.

paper-shredder-cycloneI’m all for protecting the confidentiality of purchase applications. In fact if you’ve been reading, you know I favor getting board members to sign onto confidentiality agreements. (See, Playing The Odds.)  It’s just that having the super trolling through the trash in search of non-shredders didn’t seem the most effective way to go.

“Let’s get a bigger shredder,” one of my colleagues suggested at a subsequent board meeting, which didn’t surprise me because by now I had pretty much figured out  the way they thought (which was kind of scary).  Only I didn’t understand how a super-sized shredder would really help because the problem, at least as they perceived it, was shredder underload, not overload.

confetti I did a little homework and found out there were special government-approved shredders which were required to shred an 81/2 by 11 inch document into 12,000 confetti-sized pieces. I knew they would think that was a great idea, except for the fact that the price tag was close to $3,000.

The problem solved itself – sort of – because the powers that be decided that paper was obsolete and made a mess so that it would be better to get applications online.  Only you can destroy paper, but from what I understand, you really can’t destroy documents once they’re out there in the ether world. So now instead of just worrying about staff reading the stuff, there’s potentially a whole universe.

 That’s progress!?

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