The Big Weigh-In

4 08 2012

For nearly nine years I managed the employee safety program for the City of Durham, North Carolina. We had a medical department consisting of two nurses who took very good care of City employees. The nurses’ office was across from mine and just outside was a set of medical beam scales such as we’ve all used at the doctor’s office. You know, the kind that you slide the little jeest across the beam until the beam balances. Well, I had a small magnet about 3 inches long and had discovered that if I placed the magnet on the backside of the counterweight, the scale would read 7 pounds heavy.


It was Tuesday morning, following a long Easter weekend, and when I came into the office ahead of everyone else, I placed my magnet on the back of the counterweight. Not long afterward, as I sat at my desk, I heard someone outside my office getting onto the scales.


Turns out, some of the officers next door at Police Headquarters were having a contest to see who could lose the most weight. This was the first of several police officers who would come over throughout the morning to check their weight.


As he began to move the slider across the beam to balance the scale, I could hear the exasperation in his voice.


“No way!” I heard him shout to no one. “I starved myself all weekend!”


I then heard him step down from the scale and begin to remove his shoes, belt, keys, pocket change-everything except his pants and shirt came off. Still, the scale indicated he had gained, instead of lost, weight. Gauging by his attitude at the moment, I decided it was probably safer to let him leave thinking he had gained weight than to reveal my secret. That’s all I need is an angry cop waiting for me to drive out of the parking lot so he can exact his revenge.


I let the magnet ride for a few more weigh-ins. It wasn’t long before the group of officers began to compare notes and suspect, as Chris Berman or Lee Corso might say, a little trickeration. When I saw how relieved they were upon realizing they hadn’t actually gained weight, I felt it was safe for the big reveal.


And that’s how I came to be known as the prankster of City Hall.




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