The art of making paper airplanes is affectionately known as “aerogami,” which is a play-on-words of “origami,” the Japanese art of folding paper. This leads me to think that The Office missed an opportunity with “Paper Airplane,” to have the contest won easily by the mysterious warehouse worker Hidetoshi Hasagawa. The show still could have kept the dynamic between Dwight and Angela, as they each tried to “lose.” But it would have been cool to see Hide casually throw his carefully folded plane for a vast, jaw-dropping distance at the end, when almost nobody (but the camera) was watching. I just thought I’d “speak my truth.” Now I suppose I should speak about this episode’s Scrantonicity.
The show starts out with an interesting quirk; the company that is sponsoring the paper airplane contest is named “Weyerhammer.” This is a thinly-disguised version of the huge cellulose fiber corporation Weyerhaueser, which is known for its paper products. It also produces lumber and packaging from the many trees of the great Pacific northwest. And Weyerhaueser’s company headquarters is a huge sprawling, park-like campus just a few miles from where we live now outside Seattle. So there I am, a Scranton native searching for Scrantonicity, and the show is having a laugh about a company just down the road from me in Seattle. Weyerhaueser’s main campus features a gorgeous bonsai garden that is free and open to the public, if you’re ever out this way.
The first legitimate new “Scrantonicity” sighting of this episode is Angela’s accounting diploma that is seen hanging on the wall behind her desk. It is from PennFoster College, an online university that has a main office and “Career School” on Oak Street in Scranton. It was not easy to read this diploma, which was visible on the wall for only a few seconds. It’s yet another example of all the research that was put into the back stories of these characters, most of which will never even factor into the show. But they did it anyway, and the prop department produced a nice-looking diploma for the wall.
Also visible on that wall were two “certificates of merit.” There is one I’ve noticed before, “honoring” a real person named Marc Christie, for his past work on The Office as a “best boy” and a “key grip.” Marc has since moved on to other shows as a key grip, and this was probably his “lovely parting gift.” The second “certificate of merit” is for “Acco Fasteners,” a real company with ties to the paper industry. But curiously, the person listed on the plaque is “Todd Liggies,” a name that does not show up in any online searches. Hmm… I think we are on the outside of an “inside joke” here.
When Andy and Daryl arrive at the HDRCP lab to begin filming the industrial instructional video, they are shown walking through a working laboratory, with actual research going on around them by white-lab-coated technicians. They pass by a full snack box positioned on the lab counter, amongst the beakers and test tubes and vials and such. A bag of Herr’s Ragin’ Ranch Chips is clearly visible. It made me wonder if the meticulously pristine, gloved, goggle-wearing technicians just set their equipment down at any time to snatch up a handful of Ragin’ Ranch chips to satisfy their mid-afternoon munchies. Then do they carefully wipe the colorful Ragin’ Ranch crumbs off their hands onto their white lab coats? It all seems kind of Kevin Malone-y, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, the paper airplane contest is in full swing down in the Dunder Mifflin warehouse. Behind the contestants is a desk or a shelving unit that is covered with boxes of Wegman’s snacks and cereals, in an artfully-arranged still-life composition similar to the top of the break room refrigerator upstairs. On the wall above this snack cart is a poster that is “awarding” the warehouse with the unwanted title of “Dirtiest department.” The illustration on this “award” is a cartoon pig. Well… maybe if they didn’t have so many boxes of goodies so conveniently handy down there, they wouldn’t have so many cookie crumbs all over the floor! The warehouse refrigerator features a magnet for RX Billing Services, a local Dunmore business. It also has the exact same magnet as the upstairs refrigerator, extolling the legal services of Dante Cancelli, a Scranton attorney-at-law. Dante works both floors, tending to the legal needs of the blue and the white collars. There are several cases of Izze sparkling juice on the floor behind Nellie, and a 97.9X radio station bumper-sticker behind Kevin, as he glues his fingers together making his many faulty airplanes.
When Angela is shown “stocking up” on Dunder Mifflin toilet paper for her home use, she walks past a poster for the Scranton “Fight For Air” Walk, a charity event which was held in October 2012. The pilfered toilet paper rolls were in a blue generic wrapping paper, with only the word “soft” written on the packaging. Since the show knows that nuts like me are out there watching for stuff like this, they really should have put something comically negative like “industrial-grade” on the toilet paper. It would have been funny and apropos, reminding us that the notorious cheapskate Dwight Schrute is the landlord that stocks the Scranton Business Park bathrooms.
And finally, Jim Halpert is shown climbing into a McCarthy Flowered Cab in the parking lot. The local company McCarthy cabs has been a staple on the show for years, showing up time and time again. This particular cab is marked on the front fender with the designating number “M152.” Hmm… if I look back at previous episodes, I wonder if cab M152 will be the one that is making every single pick-up. Something tells me that it just might be.