SO I'M lying in bed at 08h46 on Monday morning, contemplating the fact that it’s already 16h46 in Sydney and how I’d be damned if some bloody Aussies were already guzzling beers while I wasn’t. And then it occurred to me that pouring myself a beer required me to get out of bed, put on my slippers, walk all the way to the kitchen, find a bottle opener…
By the time I was done thinking about it, I had managed to convince myself that it was too early for a beer anyway.
That’s my roundabout way of confirming what some people already know — that I am a fundamentally lazy bastard.
Don’t judge me. Some Aussie psychologists recently identified extreme laziness as a bona fide mental disorder. I’m not making this up. The condition is called Motivational Deficiency Disorder (or MoDeD). Before you accuse me of telling lies of Rasputin proportions, look it up.
Over the years it has occurred to me that the real reason I had quit my career in the corporate world had a lot to do with my MoDeD on steroids. If I hadn’t been so goddamned lazy I’d still be gainfully employed.
On Monday morning I’d have been attending a meeting called by a director without a real job to discuss action points from an earlier meeting that no one has enacted and to agree to more action points that no one would execute so that we would meet the following Monday to discuss why we hadn’t actioned said action points before agreeing on other action points.
By the time I was done with that thought I was breathless from sheer exhaustion. As you can see, the corporate world requires industrious people who have the energy to run on that hamster wheel without getting despondent at the realisation, “Wait a minute! This is the same spot I was at just a while ago!”
My last job at the multinational corporation I worked for involved driving and flying to various factories to which we had outsourced production and having meetings in which I’d explain give them various reasons tell them all the various ways we were disappointed with them.
They would then tell us why they weren’t meeting their targets, which was always the same thing — how we never held up our side of the bargain. We called this process “flagging the issues” (essentially calling each other cretins and general finger-pointing). After the meeting I’d have to write up minutes, leaving out all the name-calling, and set a date for the next time we’d meet to call each other idiots.
As you can see, this would be tiresome for any MoDeD sufferer. I spent many hours fantasising about a comfy government job in which I could burrow inside a cocoon of red tape, a maze of pointless memos and general inertia. I could see myself telling the 53 people in the queue, “The system is down” before disappearing to the back to burrow inside a clod of soil like a garden mole rat with a mug of coffee and a plate of magwinya.
I have a friend who left the same company to go to the public sector. He calls it a “sweet gig”.
Another one of my handicaps in the corporate world is that I was too lazy to write long reports explaining why I had basically screwed up and wasted everybody’s time and company resources. I remember a story about some bright spark who decided that, as a cost-saving exercise, he would import tallow (sheep fat) from Down Under to substitute some expensive fat from Malaysia in some product or other. He was lauded as a hero until winter came and millions of rands’ worth of product solidified in warehouses.
The MoDeD in me would have made me throw my hands up in the air, hastily scribble a resignation letter and go play rat mole at some municipality.
No siree, not this Energizer Bunny. He wrote intricate reports with weighty and utterly useless technical words such as “slip melting points, N-lines and triglyceride composition”.
But he made sure to call many meetings where experts from Europe dazzled everyone with more hackneyed phrases such as “reaping low-hanging fruit”, “making hay while the sun shines” and “developing a matrix of learnings”. He dazzled everyone so much he attained a cult status and the bosses had no option but to promote him. What I learned from this episode was that using fancy catchwords to say absolutely diddly-squat gets you everywhere.
There was another senior manager in one of the departments I worked in who never let a meeting come to an end without delivering a rambling monologue, peppered with his favourite phrases: “So in order to close the loop”, “consolidating on our gains” and “during times of the feast, festival, we must keep the onset of the famine in sight”.
He’d usually deliver that last line after the meeting had overrun 45 minutes into my lunch, and my tummy was groaning at the thought of its own famine.
I guess the point I’m making here is that only industrious people get rewards. In the words of the Mandoza/Chiskop song, “Uzoy’ thola kanjani uhlel’ ekhoneni?” (You won’t get it sitting in a corner).
So, “to consolidate our gains” from this column, a rolling stone gathers no moss, especially if he can write a good report. I guess that’s why this rolling stone writes columns using flowery language to say very little. This is my own “sweet gig” right here.
What I learned from this episode was that using fancy catchwords to say absolutely diddly-squat gets you everywhere.