Synchronicity, also known as coincidence, is the experience of two or more events which are meaningfully related, but not causally related. The most common example of this is when you hear The Police’s Every Breath You Take (from the album Synchronicity) while writing a blog post about synchronicity. (Creepy, huh?)
This afternoon, I noticed a new sign in our break room at work, produced by the company’s Statistical Sign Generation Team (SSGT).
The average U.S. office worker uses one paper plate every 4 days.
The average worker at our company uses one paper plate per day.
I assume that the SSGT people created the sign to convey some sort of useful information to people. (Disclaimer: I have no anecdotal evidence to back this up. Nobody but me seems to have even noticed the sign.)
But these are the kinds of numbers that get me thinking. Why only one plate every 4 days? That’s not even once a week, so it’s not like companies are telling their employees, “It’s Tuesday. Everyone grab a paper plate!” (Disclaimer: Perhaps they do. It’s been 10 years since I worked for another company with paper plates. Things change.)
On the other hand, why do my coworkers use four times as many paper plates as our competitors? I know a lot of my colleagues eat lunch at their desks, but some don’t, so in order to make the numbers balance, some of our employees must be using more than one paper plate per day. Are they pilfering them the way some people pilfer office supplies? (“These paper plates will come in handy at home… why shouldn’t I help myself. With all I do around here, they OWE me some paper plates!”) And if the number of paper plates being consumed is a problem, why are you providing your employees with access to so many paper plates? Why not make people use their own plates from home?* Or at least sign out the paper plates, so there’s some accountability?
This is where the synchronicity comes in. Later this afternoon I saw the following headline on the Drudge Report:
The skull in question (not pictured above, that would be really creepy) was found near Oakland, California. My company is based in San Jose, which is just on the other side of San Francisco Bay. I don’t follow the local news in Silicon Valley, but I wonder if events like this happen out there more frequently than once every four days.
I just worry that next week I’ll find a new sign from SSGT pointing out our unusually high bead usage relative to the U.S. average.
* There is a question about whether disposable plates are a greater threat to the environment than using energy to clean dishes. The correct answer is “Who cares?” The environmentalists had their chance, but after a half-century of pontificating, the anti-logging industry activists and the anti-energy industry activists have fought to a 1-1 tie. If there is no consensus by 2030, the correct answer will be determined by penalty kicks.