The informant worked as a professional printer for over twenty years at several different shops in the Los Angeles area.
Well, used to be, when I was printing, they, ya know, we’d get the new guys, and obviously, you know, we’d need to, to go get something or, ya know, we’d send them on errands here and there. And, uh, every once and a while, we’d we’d tell a guy to go get a paper stretcher. Ya know, and uh we’d tell ’em “Oh, ya know, go check the sheet-fed department for a paper stretcher.” And they’d take off and twenty minutes later, they come back. “Ah I can’t find it. I’m looking for it ya know, all over the place.” And ya know, sometimes the other department would send them to another department to go get it and, usually we’d see how long they would go with it. But uh, obviously, ya know, he got the clue after a while, after he, ya know, couldn’t find it that uh, there was no such thing. [chuckles] And uh, paper does a lot of stuff but it doesn’t stretch.
The prank was fairly common at all of the shops the informant worked at.
They pulled the prank on new workers because “The older guys, they knew what was up.”
This is a perfect example of occupational folklore, and a liminal phase prank. It is assumed that once you can’t be fooled by the prank, you know what paper is capable of, therefore making you an experienced printer.