This is just a self indulgent memory brought to mind by some recent Information Security discussions I’ve been in. We we talking about the lengths people will go to to circumvent processes that are too cumbersome.
My father served in the military in World War II, where, when filing a requisition form he had to submit seven (!) copies. Without photocopiers, or even carbon paper, it meant typing the long form up seven separate times. Why seven copies? Because different departments along the supply chain each wanted a copy. They realized different supply chains probably involved different numbers of departments. Asking for toilet paper probably didn’t involve as many people as say a Jeep. So people began to categorizing requests and purposefully submitting too few copies, learning, based on the success/failure, how may copies a specific category actually needed. It turned out that nothing really needed seven, and while a Jeep might require five, toilet paper needed only one. This wasn’t just him, it was a shared communal practice, all to avoid extra typing.