Inanimate carbon rod
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The Inanimate carbon rod is a rod made of carbon. Two such rods thwart Homer in his quest for respect.
The rod first was an employee at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant who wins the "Worker of the Week Award" in recognition of his long overlooked "tireless efforts" which the plant could not function without. This greatly angers Homer who is now confirmed as less valuable to the plant than an inanimate object and is the only human at the plant not to win the award.
The other rod was a component of the NASA Corvair space shuttle which Homer, Race Banyon and Buzz Aldrin were on. When Homer snapped the handle off the shuttle door, Banyon prepared to kill him, so Homer took the rod off the wall to smash Banyon's "pretty face" in. However, Homer unintentionally lodged the rod in the shuttle door, closing it and allowing Homer and the other astronauts a safe return to Earth. The rod received all the credit. It was featured on the cover of Time magazine with the caption "In Rod We Trust!". It was also given the main seat in the subsequent parade, much to Homer's annoyance, as he had been upstaged yet again by an inanimate carbon rod. Homer turned off the TV airing the parade, much to the chagrin of Bart and Lisa, who proclaimed "they were about to show a close-up of the Rod."
The rod also appears on the Simpsons cast poster.