A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 26, 2012
“You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk”

"You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk” is a jocular saying that has been cited in print since at least 1979, when it was called “Camille’s Axiom” and credited T. Camille Flowers of Cincinnati, Ohio. The saying has frequently been included in a list of office work sayings titled “Dilbert’s Laws of Work.” However, the newspaper comic strip Dilbert was first published in 1989—ten years after “Camille’s Axiom” was first cited.


Google Books
The Washingtonian
Volume 15
1979
Pg. 140:
Camille’s Axiom: You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk. —T. Camille Flowers

30 January 1981, Seattle (WA) Times, “Why things aren’t the way they should be” by Paul Dickson (Independent News Alliance), pg. C-1, col. 3:
T. Camille’s Axiom. You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk. (T. Camille Flowers, Cincinnati)

Google News Archive
3 July 1981, The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec), “Time for Murphy to stumble again” by Nick Auf der Maur, pg. 3, col. 5:
You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.

Google Groups: alt.tv.talkshows.daytime
Kathleen Austin
12/13/96
Hope you all think these are funny......
DILBERT’S LAWS OF WORK
(...)
You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.

Google Groups: alt.med.fibromyalgia
Janine A Lovekamp
7/25/97
Dilbert’s Rules of The Workplace
(...)
You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.

Google Books
Murphy’s Law 2000:
What Else Can Go Wrong in the 21st Century

By Arthur Bloch
New York, NY: Price Stern Sloan
1999
Pg. 57:
OTTO’S LAW:
You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.

Google Groups: msn.computingcentral.windows95.general_chat
DILBERT’S LAWS OF WORK
cliff1/15/00
(...)
You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Monday, November 26, 2012 • Permalink