Tom climbs out of his window to retrieve a yellow sheet of paper which pertains to his work. When a gust of wind blows the sheet out his window, he has to brave the heights to get to the paper. Although he thinks of trying to reach the piece of paper with a mop, a broom, or the poker from the fireplace, he knows that none of those objects are long enough to do the trick.
As he balances himself on the narrow ledge, he is left contemplating his unlucky situation. The yellow sheet of paper represents countless hours of work. On it are figures documenting facts, quotations, and proofs representing hours and hours of painstaking research and observation. The facts on the paper would bolster his argument for a new grocery story display method; without that paper, his proposal would be mere opinion. Tom feels that he can't afford to lose that paper; this is why he climbs out of his window.