Performative Littering As an Annual Workplace Rite of Passage

A forgotten workplace custom from 45 years ago

You can file this under “Quaint customs That the Internet Made Impossible.”

Exactly forty-five years ago today, on Friday, December 29, 1978, my family drove through the San Francisco business district in the afternoon on rare Christmas vacation trip. Suddenly, little sheets of paper started raining down on us and the rest of the traffic on the street from open windows in the office buildings.

It was the end of the last business day of the year, you see. Every year on that day, office workers would remove all the daily calendars pages from the ringed holders on their desks and toss all 365 sheets out the office windows to create an unofficial ticker tape parade for the departing work year.

It wasn’t eco-groovy and probably discarded vital documentary evidence that might be crucial in future court cases, but the spectacle of it was magnificent.

Today, some people still use paper daily calendars to track their business appointments and notes, but most of us use our desktop computers, laptops, and cellphones to track those things, so no business district could generate enough calendar pages to simulate a ticker tape parade. And therefore this annual event has gone the way of the dodo and decorative metal chains made from aluminum pull tabs from soda cans.

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