Making It Rain [Pipes]
Well, it started just like any other Wednesday. I was sitting in my office, feverishly hunting the freshest pipes in the land, when Alyson Wilford darted in, the door shutting quickly behind her. At this point I was less concerned with who was in my office and more so with why the door was shut, closed doors not being too common at Smokingpipes, especially mine. Alyson, our recruiter, was recruiting people for a secret mission. She informed me that I was chosen, along with a select few, for a covert operation. I was to report to the Marketing department at dusk on the following Tuesday, and was not to share what little details I had been given with anyone.
Tuesday arrived and the anticipation grew. We just needed everyone to finish their work and go home. So we waited. We waited some more. After the Marketing team cleared out, the IT team came in and updated some software. We ate some pizza. We waited a little longer, but Adam was determined to outlast us, so we decided to work around him. Sykes and Alyson ushered in four bags filled to the brim with pipes. These weren't your ordinary pipes either, but pipes painted in a glittery 1980's rainbow of colors. Accompanying these bags were thumbtacks and a large roll of fishing monofilament. The mission: dangle over 300 brightly colored pipes over the 12 connected desks in the main marketing room.
Our challenge was to transcend the tying of knots, the ladders, the sometimes wobbly desks, and the later hours to create something inspiring. Now, the disclaimer here is that these pipes were not smoke-able. These were pipes sent to us as estates that were damaged far past visual imperfections; pipes we couldn't sell, and whose owners didn't want them back. They sat in the pipe library, occasionally being moved, the odd pipe in the bunch being pulled out and used for education or estate restoration practice. It was sad. Each pipe had a story to tell, a memory, a lifetime, but they weren't being heard.
The result of three hours of toil: the pipes were strung up and pinned to the ceiling with no particular pattern for color, length, or placement (although we did have to coach Sykes out of working in a grid). Each person had their method, but we all came together to create something unique, yet unified. Unified mainly by a shared chaos, but unified regardless. After cleaning the footprints off the tables and trying to collect all of the spilled thumb-tacks, we called it a night. The next morning's surprise was electric. Smiles were wide, confusion was abundant, and though Eric tried his best, he ultimately failed in trying to pretend that nothing had happened. And throughout the workday, lots of people would simply stroll by just to get another look.
This project was about more than making room in our library. We are in a unique business to be surrounded by pipes all the time. It would be a shame to focus exclusively on what a pipe means as an abstraction because we philosophize about it, or to focus on what can go wrong with a pipe, because our job is to look for it. Sometimes a pipe is a pipe, it exists to be enjoyed. I view the new installation as a tribute to pipes that have been enjoyed (and sure, maybe abused) and I look forward to the many memories, stories, photos, videos, and whatever else it is sure to inspire.
Dennis Mann: Pipe Manager
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