A cow in Willesden

Public psychotherapy for a veteran auditor

Pretend like you’re working

Just some half-baked ideas this week, it was either that or miss out all together, I’ve been way too busy for writing. That also means there will be grammatical errors in here.

So back in 1991 I had the privilege of seeing the legendary Bill Hicks perform on stage. If you aren’t familiar with his work, imagine a foul-mouthed Noam Chomsky with a relentless, ferocious anger against injustice, mediocrity, and Billy Ray Cyrus in equal measure. But the one I remember best is this one:

Bill’s boss at the store : Hey Hicks! Why aren’t you working?

Bill : There’s nothing to do

Boss : Well PRETEND like you’re working

Bill : Why don’t you pretend I’m working. You get paid more than me, you have the fantasies.

It was funnier the way he said it. Anyway, I was thinking about that last week when I read this article on careers and stuff like that, and it struck me that for some people it’s not a joke at all. Here’s the bit of the article I was reading :

One of the most common but least-talked about career moves is to get to a relatively high spot and then see how much you can cut back in terms of effort and still maintain that level of salary and/or prestige. This seems like a reasonable strategy for a wide range of people. So do small experiments with cutting back early in your career because creating enormous efficiencies takes practice. And a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic is not the training you need for this type of change.

Pasted from <http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/02/07/salaries-top-out-at-age-40/>

You know someone like that? Can you think of someone at work who has done it, got to a level where they can cruise, and now they’re just lying back protecting their position, probably making double what you’re on, but with no incentive to do a decent job? Go on, think hard. I bet you can think of at least one. I bet you can even see one from where you’re sitting. I bet you could hit him or her on the head from here with a stapler.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of an easy life, stress-free working, getting off the corporate treadmill and all that. If you can pull a Ferris Bueller and get through what you need to do at work but still having lots of time for your friends, family, hobbies, street dances in Chicago, whatever, then go for it. Anything that gets us, as a society, anywhere close to what the industrial revolution promised to deliver for the working life is a good thing in my book.

But that’s at an ideological level. On a day-to-day, personal level, these people boil my pips. Because it’s not like they’re just stepping aside and letting people through. They aren’t just affecting themselves. They’re blocking the whole darn doorway, they’re interfering with my work, they’re wasting my time, they’re letting me down, they’re blocking my ideas for change, they’re taking up valuable promotion space, and they’re generally just making the whole organisation flabby and ineffective. It’s like a layer of custard that you need to swim through every time you need to get something done. And I suppose if I’m brutally honest with myself, they’re making me wish I’d tried a bit harder when I started out, so I could be one of them now. But my envy doesn’t justify their behaviour, just ask Silvio Berlusconi’s knockers.

So to everyone out there who is in a high-paid position, if you don’t want to do a decent job, would you all mind please getting out of my way, or buggering off to Kosovo or somewhere else with 40% unemployment?

‘Preciate it, thanks.

8 responses to “Pretend like you’re working

  1. JRN February 18, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Hmmmm… How many can I see from here…

  2. ESC February 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

    you should try walking on custard instead…..

  3. p February 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Why would there be a cow in Willesden? is she one of the nose to grindstone or the lucky delegators?

    • A Cow in Willesden February 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm

      Excellent contribution to the discussion.
      Frankly there are not many cows in Willesden. In the years I spent there, I saw very few indeed. Being an inner city suburb of London, the land tends to be largely unsuitable for grazing, being mostly tarmac and terraced houses, with the odd tower block of council housing and what have you. For more about the cow, please read the “About” section of my blog, where I always meant to elaborate on the source of the name, but I can’t recall if I got around to it.
      As regards this lucky cow’s position, I’d have to say I’m both. I might expand on my working class values and how I apply them in advocating for greater respect and fairness for auditors in anothe rblog down the line. I bet that has you on the edge of your seat. Check back after the next significant event in your life, which I hope goes well for you…

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