The $2,200 waste paper basket

Every once in a while, there’s something about the bloated, hysterical excess of messianic CEOs that pushes me so far out into a spiral of nauseau and anger that I circle back and wind up kind of awestruck. So we’ve found out that Tyco CEO Dennis Koslowski got the company to spend $2.1 million on his wife’s birthday party — togas and private island included. So we know now that the company paid for his $16.8 million New York apartment. And yeah, everyone’s angry about arrogant CEO bonuses.

But I swear to god I almost admire Koslowski’s utterly deranged, monomaniacal desire to acquire everyday office equipment that is not merely high-quality, not just expensive, but literally cleopatran in its excess. I mean, a $17,100 “travelling toilet box”? A the $15,000 “umbrella stand”? A $2,200 waste paper basket? God, just imagine the dialogue between him and his personal shopper:

“This $750 waste paper basket will make your office look lovely!”

“I don’t know … do you have anything a bit tonier?”

“How about this one — it’s $1,275.”

“It’s nice, but still … maybe something a little more top-drawer.”

“Okay — this gold-plated one goes for $1,899.”

“I was really hoping for something just a bit more opulent.”

“Uh, this one is $2,200.”

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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