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Eager young tearaway almost ruined Christmas with printer paper

In the age of tractor-fed printers and perforated paper, telling a junior to tear it up was close to negligence

Who, Me? Welcome back once again, dear reader, to the untidy corner of The Reg we call Who Me? in which readers' confessions are filed in the dusty shadows until rediscovered.

At the top of the creaking pile of submissions this week we found a reader we'll Regomize as "Jock" who leaned way back on his rocking chair to recount for us a story of his younger years – in the 1960s.

Yes, this tale comes from the era of free love, psychedelia, and banking certificates printed on gigantic tractor-fed dot-matrix printers that could only use perforated paper. Jock worked in a bank, so on the spectrum of the cultural revolution he was more at the heavy stock end than Woodstock.

Aged 16 and keen to impress, Jock was helping the Ledgers clerk clear her desk before the Christmas break. Said clerk had to print out hundreds of end-of-year share certificates, which were delivered as "stacks of perforated, folded computer paper." Jock's role in the procedure should have been to separate the certificates and then place each in the appropriate customer files.

Unfortunately, Jock tells us, the Ledgers clerk "forgot I was new and would have no idea what she meant when she told me to 'tear up the dividend certificates'."

Let us now imagine the youthful zeal and enthusiasm Jock brought to this task. "I ripped each one into about 16 pieces before placing them in the trash," he told Who, Me. Next, he "carefully and conscientiously mixed them with lots of our other branch paper waste." Such a thorough job!

When he finished, he proudly informed the clerk that no-one would ever be able to put them back together.

But, dear reader, it seems he was mistaken about that. Not only could someone put them back together, someone had to. Guess who?

Of course it was not only Jock. Bank rules required every single certificate to be completely reassembled and taped back together, with the branch manager obliged to initial each and every one of the repaired joints. Other staff were called in to assist.

Even so, it took until early Christmas Day. Not quite the holiday any of them had planned.

Ho ho no, readers. If you've ever misunderstood an instruction and wound up the office Grinch, we'd like to read about it. Send an email to Who, Me? and we'll immortalize your adventure for the ages.

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