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The Mind of James Donahue

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Slack On the Job

 

I thought writing about slacking off at the workplace would be difficult. I come from a family of hard workers. My wife is, in a strange sense, a work-a-holic that gives all to any job she has ever had. She inherited that trait from her father, who worked so hard in an iron foundry that he dropped dead on the job before his time.

 

Looking back on that incident, and having watched my wife go the extra mile for her "bosses" without receiving even a "thank-you" for her effort, and recalling similar incidents on the various newspapers where I worked, I realize that slacking off on the job is an American tradition. It is an unspoken way of life. It even brings rewards.

 

I discovered early in my newspaper career that office jobs were a problem because there was always a chain of command that got in the way of productivity. As a reporter working at the bottom of the heap, I usually had a subordinate assistant editor watching over my shoulder. He or she in turn had a managing editor watching his/her actions. And they both had a publisher watching them from the wings.

 

Our objective was never quality. It was quantity. The object was to crank out as much copy as possible within a given amount of time, make sure all of the 'i's' were dotted and the "t's" crossed, all of the words properly spelled, and the content as non-offensive to area minority groups as possible. After that, nobody cared if it was a good story. It just had to fit the hole that existed between volumes of advertising copy.

 

The bottom line, at least from the publisher's point of view, was always profit. The newspaper had to make money or we were out the door. Thus we never angered our advertisers, or the masses that read our rag.

 

Because of the politics of office work, I discovered that bureau writing had its rewards for me. When I accepted my first bureau assignment, I discovered that I could work in the field unencumbered. No bosses looking over my shoulder. I was free to develop a story to its fullest. The politics from outlying areas does not seem to affect the way the story is used. Consequently, I was free to choose the stories I thought were important and deliver them with total freedom of purpose. I attacked my job with gusto.

 

It seemed like the perfect solution until one day I was confronted by a fellow employee, apparently speaking on behalf of the group. I was asked to slow down and slack off because it was making everybody else look bad.

 

My point to this story is that Americans are not free. We are all slaves to a system that uses its work force to make money for the few that own and run the nations business interests. Workers understand this and they become very skilled at doing as little as possible throughout a given work day. Everybody has their own little secrets for achieving job slack.

 

That is because there is no real reward for achievement. What is a plaque proclaiming us employer of the week except a piece of paper with our name on it? When we are no longer fit and able to produce, we are discarded, like old rags, into scrap heaps called nursing homes. Our children, so caught up in the enslaving system, lack the time or the desire to look after an aging parent.

 

Slack on the job is obviously a natural thing for most workers. If you notice, the people who do it well seem to get the best rewards. They are usually promoted to watch over the rest of the herd. That may be because the person excelling in job slack knows how to recognize it, and thus makes it more difficult for the rest of the underlings to get away with doing the same thing.

 

Job slack takes creativeness. One has to appear busy without actually accomplishing much. The telephone is an excellent tool for slackers. Use it a lot. Also be a regular attendant at those ridiculous staff meetings that go on all of the time. They are a fantastic waste of everybodys time, and accomplish nothing, but corporate employers seem addicted to them. So show up and be an outspoken and enthusiastic contributor.

 

If you think you have to work, the object is to accomplish as little as possible on the job so you cost the employer to keep you, but he never makes money by having you around. If enough workers do this successfully, and continue doing it long enough, the company will eventually collapse. Of course you lose your job, but you have the satisfaction of helping topple another corporate monster.

 

All written material on this site is copyright protected. Reproduction on other sites is permitted if proper credit is given and the material is not sold or used for financial gain. Reproduction for print media is prohibited unless there is expressed permission from the author, James L. Donahue, and/or Psiomni Ltd.