Once upon a time, I was working at Hughes Aircraft, analyzing missile guidance sensors and trying to design laser weapons. My fellow engineers thought I had other strengths – I was a halfway decent pinochle player. Some thought my abilities ranged further.
For example, my boss – an English optical designer we will call Roger W, quite a sharp guy – once called me into his office to accuse of me of practicing black magic. Someone had been placing tiny five-pointed stars over his desk and chair for some weeks. Naturally, he suspected some kind of sorcery, and even more naturally, he suspected me.
That’s the sort of accusation that you don’t hear every day. Anyone might be called a slacker, or a troublemaker, or be suspected of pilfering office supplies – but you have to be damn special to considered a member of Satan’s posse. It makes a fellow feel humble, and kinda proud.
But being basically honest, I could not take credit. It wasn’t me – not in that case, anyhow. A few questions turned up the real culprit. Andy L, another engineer, was extremely competent and at the same time so quiet as to be effectively invisible. He had had his fifth anniversary at Hughes about six months earlier, and wanted his five-year pin. He would have got it too, excerpt for that invisibility thing. Rather than confront anyone, he just kept cutting out five-pointed stars and surreptitiously showering his supervisor’s desk with them.
Once management realized what was going on, they gave him his pin. Maybe it was magic.