Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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attention flag

You wanted to talk to me?
  (+5, -3)
(+5, -3)
  [vote for,

When you want to talk to someone (a co-worker, a housemate, whoever), but they're busy (on the phone, off in a meeting, out to lunch, deeply engrossed in something), leave an "attention flag" on their desk or in their pocket or some other place you think they will likely encounter it.

The attention flag is a small but prominent flag with a weighted base and your name on it. When they finish their task or return from their absence, the flag will remind them that you wanted to talk to them. They take the flag, come find you, and give it back to you: "You wanted to talk to me?"

If you're out or busy when they respond, they put your flag back on your desk and leave one of their own next to it.

Sure, you could also leave them e-mail or a voice mail or a message on the whiteboard or a Post-It note or whatever, but I think using physical flags is more charming, and more likely to evoke a response when mailboxes and whiteboards are all too frequently overflowing with unprioritized junk. The number of flags will be bounded, since you'll only ever get one at a time from any given person.

Variations: Personal flags could be attractively designed and customized as a sort of calling card; the base could include a little clip or writing area for the flagger to leave a more specific message; you could have different types of flags for different occasions ("just dropping by to say hi" vs. "oh my god everything's broken where are you come quick!!!").

egnor, Jun 13 2001


       "Charming" is a good way to describe it. Also, I think you're right about being more likely to get a response. The main problem I see is that unless you made it a habit to carry a flag with you when you went to see someone, you'd have to go back to your desk (and then back to the person's desk) to get it once you found out the person was occupied.
PotatoStew, Jun 13 2001

       I agree, that is an issue.   

       Maybe people could carry a flag all the time when they're at work, possibly in some sort of belt holster. On the positive side, people would learn by association to match flags and faces. On the negative side, that would be a real pain; we've already got plenty of things to tote around (keys, wallet, cell phone, PDA, pens, ...).
egnor, Jun 13 2001

       Indeed. It's only a matter of time before we have real life utility belts, like Batman and Robin.   

       I think a flag holster is a fun idea though. Maybe instead of a weighted base, the flags should have a plunger base; they could then be shot out of a plunger dart gun so you could leave your message from a distance.
PotatoStew, Jun 13 2001

       Where I work, I am surrounded by paper and broken pencils and blu-tac (or plasticine). I am going to bake this one, I think it's cute. You could also use those little photo clipper display things, (the ones with the solid base and pioingy bendy stick with a baby crocodile clip on the end) and leave them lying around with your business card clipped in. I don't have a business card though, so I'll stick to the plasticine.
lewisgirl, Jun 13 2001

       Can my flag be the Jolly Roger?
beauxeault, Jun 13 2001

       [waugs]: My ex-manager (I don't mean that he's dead now, although...) used to e-mail instructions to me when I was sitting opposite him. Days would go by without him speaking to me.
angel, Jun 13 2001

       [egnor] "Are you happy to see me or are you happy to see me?"   

       (a la "Is that a flag in your pocket...")
phoenix, Jun 13 2001

       ...This doesn't seem like an egnor idea at all. I sense an imposter...
iuvare, Jun 13 2001

       [lewisgirl] gets my Don Martin award for "pioingy"   

       As for the idea, it's only a matter of time, if such a system is adopted, before your desk is so cluttered with attention flags that you just toss them out. And your contention that   

       //you'll only ever get one at a time from any given person//   

       is balderdash. As soon as I get impatient with you for not bringing my flag back, I'm tossing you another one. But you never get back to me, because you know I'm going to chew you out 1) for not getting back to me for my first flag, and 2) for the thing I was going to chew you out for in the first place. So I toss another. Ad infinitum. Forget it. Fishbone for you, you shlep. And give me all my flags back.
globaltourniquet, Jun 13 2001

       //This doesn't seem like an egnor idea at all. I sense an imposter//   

       How egnorstic of you...
PotatoStew, Jun 13 2001

       Hmm, yes, there must be something more attention-grabbing than flags. I know! How about specially trained small dogs. You could leave them at the desk of the person you're trying to get hold of, and they could be trained to bark until the recipient follows them.   

       In Australia you could use kangaroos: "What's that Skip? Bruce has locked up the server and needs a reboot? Goodonyer."
steg, Jun 13 2001

       // This doesn't seem like an egnor idea at all. //   

       Why not?   

       // I've long used Post-Its for this //   

       Yeah, but my desk is covered in Post-Its. How will yours stand out?   

       // As soon as I get impatient with you for not bringing my flag back, I'm tossing you another one. //   

       I'm not sure why you think that would help. Why not just move the flag that's already there to a more prominent place, like on top of their keyboard or balanced so it falls from the door when they walk in?   

       // How about specially trained small dogs? //   

       How about flags that beep? Beep beep beep. They could even have a recorded voice message that would play over and over. Only the owner has the code that turns them off. OK, maybe not...
egnor, Jun 14 2001

       Better yet: exploding flags.
PotatoStew, Jun 14 2001


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