Series 02 Episode 18 – The Work Song Nanocluster

Scene: The apartment.

Raj: Knight to queen’s bishop-five.

Howard: Oh, very nice. What’s Leonard going to do? Does he give up the pawn or does he give up the position?

Raj: Let’s find out. Leonard, ready?

Leonard: Ready.

Raj: Go. (Leonard sprays an aerosol which lights up laser beams. He tries to negotiate the beams as Howard and Raj sing dramatic music. Eventually he touches one of the beams and a buzzer sounds.)

Leonard: Damn it. I slipped.

Howard: Too bad. You know the rules of Secret Agent Laser Obstacle Chess. Uh, Leonard died again, Sheldon. You’re up.

Sheldon: Despite my deep love of chess, lasers and aerosol disinfectant, I must forfeit.

Leonard: Why?

Sheldon: – Because it’s almost eleven o’clock.

Leonard: So?

Sheldon: So, Penny has a don’t knock on my door before eleven o’clock  or I punch you in the throat rule.

All: Ah.

Howard: Hey, you know what’d be a great idea? We get some girls over here and play Laser Obstacle Strip Chess.

Leonard: Believe me, Howard, any girl who would be willing to play that, you don’t want to see naked.

Howard: You underestimate me.

Scene: Outside Penny’s door. Sheldon stands looking at his watch with his hand poised to knock. At the right moment he starts knocking.

Sheldon: (Knock, knock, knock) Penny, (knock, knock, knock) Penny, (knock, knock, knock) Penny.

Penny: Hey, Sheldon.

Sheldon: It’s eleven am.

Penny: I know. You’re safe.

Sheldon: This package came while you were at work.

Penny: Oh, great, my rhinestones. Thank you.

Sheldon: Excuse me.

Penny: What?

Sheldon: You have to sign this.

Penny: What is it?

Sheldon: When I signed for the package, I was deputized by the United Parcel Service and entrusted with its final delivery. I now need you to acknowledge receipt of the package so that I’m fully indemnified and no longer liable.

Penny: Sheldon, it’s just a box of rhinestones.

Sheldon: Well, the contents are irrelevant. A legal bailment has been created. Does that mean nothing to you?

Penny: It means nothing to anybody. Come here, let me show you what I’m doing.

Sheldon: Bailment describes a relationship in common law where a physical possession of personal property, or chattels, is transferred from one person, the bailor, to another person, the bailee.

Penny: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, look, look! I started a business.

Sheldon: Obviously, not a cleaning business.

Penny: No, I’m making flower barrettes. See? I call them Penny Blossoms. I made one for myself, then all the girls at work wanted one. Then I showed some to this lady who runs a shop in Old Town. She sells cards and homemade jewellery. She said she wanted to sell them. I said okay, and in one week, I made a $156.

Sheldon: Good for you. Sign here.

Penny: Sheldon, don’t you get it? If this takes off, I won’t have to be a waitress anymore.

Sheldon: But then who will bring me my cheeseburger on Tuesday nights?

Penny: Another waitress.

Sheldon: What’s her name?

Penny: I don’t know.

Sheldon: And you’re going to let her handle my food?

Penny: Nancy. Her name is Nancy.

Sheldon: I think you’re just making that up.

Penny: Sheldon, I’m sorry about your hamburger, okay? I just don’t want to be a waitress for the rest of my life.

Leonard: Cheeseburger. I get a cheeseburger.

Penny: Fine, cheeseburger.

Sheldon: Maybe I’d be better off with Nancy.

Penny: So, what do you think? I mean, this could be a business, right?

Sheldon: How many of these can you make a day?

Penny: About twenty.

Sheldon: And how much profit do you make per Penny Blossom?

Penny: I don’t know, like, 50 cents. I’m not sure.

Sheldon: No, Of course you’re not. All right, ten dollars a day times five days a week times 52 weeks a year is two thousand six hundred dollars.

Penny: That’s all?

Sheldon: Before taxes.

Penny: Well, I don’t have to pay taxes on this stuff.

Sheldon: I believe the Internal Revenue Service would strongly disagree. But, if you took advantage of modern marketing techniques, and you optimized your manufacturing process, you might be able to make this a viable business.

Penny: And you know about that stuff?

Sheldon: Penny, I’m a physicist. I have a working knowledge of the entire universe and everything it contains.

Penny: Who’s Radiohead?

Sheldon: I have a working knowledge of the important things in the universe. Good luck.

Penny: Sheldon, hold on. Could you maybe show me how to make more money with this?

Sheldon: Of course I could.

Penny: Sheldon, wait! Will you?

Sheldon: Just to be clear here, you’re asking for my assistance.

Penny: Yes.

Sheldon: And you understand that will involve me telling you what to do?

Penny: I understand.

Sheldon: And you’re not allowed to be sarcastic or snide to me while I’m doing so.

Penny: Okay.

Sheldon: Good. Let’s begin with the premise that everything you’ve done up to this point is wrong.

Penny: Oh, imagine that.

Sheldon: Sarcasm. Good-bye.

Penny: No, sorry. Wait! Please come back!

Credits sequence.

Scene: Penny’s apartment. Penny is making a barette. Sheldon is timing her.


Penny: There. Done.

Sheldon: All right. 12 minutes and 17 seconds.

Penny: Pretty good, right?

Sheldon: That’s 4.9 Penny Blossoms per hour. Based on your cost of materials and your wholesale selling price, you’ll effectively be paying yourself… $5.19 a day.

Penny: A day?

Sheldon: There are children in a sneaker factory in Indonesia who outearn you.

Penny: That just can’t be right.

Sheldon: You’re questioning my math?

Penny: No, sorry.

Sheldon: Want me to show my work?

Penny: Oh, God, no, no. Just please tell me what to do about it.

Sheldon: All right, are you familiar with the development that resulted from Honoré Blanc’s 1778 use of interchangeable parts? The assembly line, of course.

Penny: Okay, you know what, if I’m not allowed to be snide, you’re not allowed to be condescending.

Sheldon: That wasn’t a part of our original agreement, and I do not agree to it now.

Penny: All right, fine. How are we supposed to set up machines and conveyor belts in my apartment?

Sheldon: You’re thinking of the moving assembly line, an understandable but not excusable mistake. No. The moving assembly line, that was introduced by Henry Ford in 1908. That innovation is what made possible our modern consumer culture by enabling a low-unit cost for manufactured goods. I guess that isn’t one of the topics discussed on your Radiohead.

Scene: The apartment


Leonard: Let’s go. We’re going to miss the coming attractions.

Raj: What’s the matter?

Howard: I think I bruised a testicle capturing that last pawn.

From Penny’s apartment they hear Penny and Sheldon singing “Blow the man down.” They enter to find Sheldon and Penny working together on the barettes.


Leonard: Hello?

Penny & Sheldon together: Hello. (They resume singing and working)

Leonard: W-W-Wait, what’s going on?

Sheldon: I assume you’re referring to the sea shanty. It’s a rhythmic work song designed to increase productivity.

Penny: Yeah, it’s crazy, but it totally works. Look, we made this Penny Blossom in under three minutes.

Leonard: Terrific, but that kind of raises more questions than it answers.

Sheldon: Penny’s making hair accessories. I’m helping her optimize her manufacturing process. All right, break’s over. (They start singing again.)

Howard: Hold on. What are you using as a bonding agent?

Sheldon: Hot glue.

Howard: You’re kidding. Any of the cyanoacrylates would do a better job.

Sheldon: It won’t work, the flower’s too porous.

Leonard: What if we infused the bottom layer with silicone-RTV to provide a better mounting surface?

Sheldon: Intriguing.

Howard (after Raj whispers to him): Good question, what are you marketing and distribution channels?

Penny: Well, there are the waitresses at my work, and this cute, little shop in Old Town.

Sheldon: Hush, hush, hush, hush, hush, virtually non-existent. I’m thinking that we set her up with a hosted turnkey e-commerce system to start.

Howard: Why not eliminate the middle man? We could install a small server farm with a static IP in her bedroom.

Leonard: She’d need some kind of industrial cooling system.

Sheldon: Of course, but before we set up a marketing and distribution infrastructure, we should finish optimizing the manufacturing process. To start with, she has a terrible problem with moisture-induced glitter clump.

Penny: Yeah, it’s a bitch.

Howard: Uh, I’ve seen this before.

Leonard: Where?

Howard: It’s a common stripper problem. They dance, they sweat, they clump.

Penny: Ew.

Leonard: Are you thinking about adding a desiccant like calcium sulphate?

Howard: Actually, I’m thinking about this one stripper named Vega. But sure, calcium sulphate could work.

Sheldon: Let’s think out of the box for a moment. How about a molecular sieve?

Leonard & Howard: Oh!

Penny: I’ve got a spaghetti strainer in the kitchen.

Sheldon: Wow.

Leonard: Hey, we could liberate some micro-porous charcoal from the chem lab.

Sheldon: Oh, great. Raj, why don’t you and Howard go get the charcoal? Leonard, why don’t you start working on some preliminary Web site designs. I’ll make some space in our apartment so we can move the manufacturing process.

Penny: Well, what’s wrong with my apartment?

Sheldon: It’s not my apartment.

Penny: Wait, wait, what am I going to do?

Leonard: Uh, hey, it’s your business. Do whatever you want.

Penny: Oh, okay, cool. I’m going to take a nap.

Scene: The apartment.

Leonard: I’m still tweaking things a little bit, but this will give you the general idea of the Web site. So, what do you guys think?

Howard (after Raj whispers to him): Uh, pretty much any way I say that is going to hurt his feelings.

Leonard: Okay, what’s wrong with it?

Sheldon: – What’s wrong with it?

Leonard: Not you. I wasn’t asking you. Penny?

Penny: Uh, well, it’s a little juvenile. I mean, it kind of looks like the MySpace page of a 13-year-old girl.

Leonard: No, it doesn’t.

Howard: Please. Dateline could use it to attract predators.

Sheldon: Penny, this is your enterprise, so it’s ultimately your decision, but based on the quality of his work, I’d strongly recommend that we let Leonard go.

Leonard: You want to fire me?

Sheldon: What I want is irrelevant. This is Penny’s decision. Penny?

Leonard: Excuse me, but if I did such a bad job then why do we already have orders?

Penny: We do?

Leonard: Uh-huh. Look. Mrs. Fiona Fondell from Huntsville, Alabama has ordered two.

Penny: No kidding. Two?

Leonard: Uh-huh. Look at the comments.

Penny: Thank you, Penny Blossoms. These will be perfect to cover my bald spot. Aww, that is so sweet.

Sheldon: Camouflaging bald spots. That’s primarily a male concern. Perhaps we could expand our market.

Penny: How are flower barrettes going to appeal to men?

Howard: We add Bluetooth!

Sheldon: Brilliant. Men love Bluetooth.

Penny: Wait a minute, wait a minute, you want to make a hair barrette with Bluetooth?

Sheldon: Penny, everything is better with Bluetooth.

Leonard: Holy crap. Someone just ordered a thousand Penny Blossoms.

Penny: Get out! Who needs a thousand sparkly flower barrettes with rhinestones?

Leonard: The Fifth Annual East Rutherford, New Jersey, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance Luau.

Sheldon: Oh, another market to expand into, balding gay men.

Howard: And I’ll bet lesbians love Bluetooth.

Sheldon: We should get to work.

Penny: Wait, wait, wait, why does it say one-day rush? Since when do we offer a one-day rush?

Leonard: Amazon offers one-day rush.

Penny: Yeah, but they don’t have to glue the books together. How the hell are we going to make a thousand Penny Blossoms in one day?

Leonard: Don’t yell at me. I’m not manufacturing. I’m just Web design.

Penny: Okay, well, I’m gonna have to call them and cancel the order.

Sheldon: Excuse me, but was this not your goal? Financial independence through entrepreneurial brilliance and innovation? My brilliance and innovation, of course, but still.

Penny: I just don’t see how see can pull this off.

Sheldon: Okay, that, right there, that equivocation and self-doubt, that is not the American spirit. Did Davy Crockett quit at the Alamo? Did Jim Bowie?

Howard: They didn’t quit. They were massacred by, like, a gazillion angry Mexicans.

Sheldon: Alright, let me put it this way. Your gross receipts on this one order will be over $3,000 for one night’s work.

Penny: You guys get started.

Leonard: What are you doing?

Penny: Going online to buy shoes!

Scene: The same, later. Sheldon and Penny are making barettes, singing “She’ll be coming round the mountain.”

Raj: You know, if I wanted to spend my Saturday nights doing this, I could have stayed in India.

Howard: Oh, stop with the fake third world crap. Your father’s a gynaecologist, and you had a house full of servants.

Raj: We only had four servants. And two of them were children.

Leonard: How are we doing?

Raj: We have 128 assorted Penny Blossoms ready to ship.

Howard: Oh, God, we’re never gonna finish in time. Who made Sheldon the boss anyway?

Sheldon: I believe I’m hearing some negativity on the factory floor.

Penny: So?

Sheldon: Penny, the labour force is a living organism that must be carefully nurtured. Any counterproductive grumbling must be skilfully headed off by management. Observe. Hey! Less talk, more work!

Penny: Nicely done.

Sheldon: Thank you. You hear any union talk, you let me know.

Time shift

Leonard (singing): Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah…

Howard (reluctantly singing): Someone’s in the kitchen I know-ow-ow-ow

Penny (singing): Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah… Sheldon? Sheldon! (nudges him)

Sheldon (waking up, singing): ‘Cause I sold my soul to the company store.

Penny: Honey, do you want some coffee?

Sheldon: No, I don’t drink coffee.

Penny: Come on, but if you don’t stay awake we’ll never finish in time.

Sheldon: I’m sorry, coffee’s out of the question. When I moved to California, I promised my mother that I wouldn’t start doing drugs.

Penny: Leonard, help.

Leonard: Sheldon, we still have 380 of these things to make.

Sheldon: I have complete faith that you will make them. Good night.

Penny: Leonard?

Leonard: Yeah, no. But, Sheldon, without your insight and leadership this entire enterprise will surely fail.

Sheldon: You’re right, of course.

Penny: Here, this will help.

Sheldon: Very well, but if this leads to opiates or hallucinogenics, you’re going to have to answer to my mother.

Time shift

Sheldon: Look at Planck’s Constant. People say it’s arbitrary. It could not be less arbitrary. If it varied even slightly, life as we know it would not exist. Bam! Now, now, let’s reconsider the entire argument, but with entropy reversed and effect preceding cause, so you are thinking of a universe that’s not expanding from the centre, no, it is retreating from a, from a possibility space. Bam! This is a space where we are all essentially Alice through the looking glass, standing in front the Red Queen, and we’re being offered a cracker to quench our thirst. Bam! Of course, in another universe, let’s call it universe prime, there’s another Sheldon, let’s call him Sheldon prime…

Penny: We should have let him go to bed.

Leonard: Bam.

Time shift

Leonard: I can’t believe we actually did it.

Howard: 1,000 friggin’ Penny Blossoms.

Penny: I just want you guys to know I am really grateful for your help, and for every dollar I make, I’m going to give you 20 cents.

Howard: That’s your entire profit margin.

Penny: Oh. Then never mind.

Leonard: I’ll print out the shipping label. Uh-oh.

Penny: What?

Leonard: We got an e-mail from the East Rutherford, New Jersey, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance. They want another thousand Penny Blossoms.

Penny: Really?

Leonard: One-day rush. I really need to take that off the Web site.

Penny: Okay, well. Guess we’d better get started.

Howard: You can’t be serious.

Penny: Come on. What about the living organism of the workforce and the American spirit and Jiminy Crockett at the Alamo?

Leonard: Davy Crockett. Jiminy Crockett was a cricket.

Penny: Yes, yes, I know that, okay? I’m tired, I’ve had like 18 cups of coffee. The point is, if we all just pull together, we can do this. Who’s with me?

Howard: Penny, although you may find it hard to believe, we do have lives.

Penny: Leonard?

Leonard: Sorry. My apologies to the gay community of East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Sheldon (entering dressed as The Flash): Zoom, zoom, zoom! Where’s the coffee?

Penny: We’re all out.

Sheldon: No problem. I’ll be back before this banana hits the ground. Zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom! Zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom!

Scene: The apartment. Raj is negotiating the laser beams. Sheldon and Howard are singing dramatically.


Raj (reaching the other side): Yes! (He takes a slice of pizza)

Howard: Sorry, guys, but Secret Agent Laser Obstacle Lunch is just stupid.

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