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Coffee and laziness.

Laziness is one of the most pervasive, yet universally condemned attributes of humans.

One summer, during my school days, I enlisted as a junior member of a construction crew. The second day at work, we returned from our lunch break to find the boss away. We sat around for an hour or so until he returned. Seeing us idling, he called us over for a little indoctrination. "Boys," he said, "I'm telling you for the first and only time. There's only one lazy son-of-a-bitch in this job - and that's ME! You know what has to be done! Now, get cracking, and don't ever let me catch you goofing off again".

Laziness is not simply a symptom of indolence, but a manifestation of a wide spectrum of behavior patterns. Many of which are mitigated or modified by a pharmaco-dynamic beverage such as coffee or tea.

In a long range perspective, each of us is as lazy as we have the courage to be. In a world of steep competition, pressure for high productivity and status, as well as work addiction, to be lazy is to be despised by others and often, even by ourselves. Lazy is a four letter word used for people who exasperate us and defy our comprehension. Laziness is by definition, disinclination to work, aversion to exertion or labor. It is indolence, idleness, or in the vernacular "goofing off".

Laziness is by no means restricted to humans. Recent studies by field biologists indicate that most animals are even lazier than humans. And many of the work expressions for industrious animals are myths from folklore rather than having a scientific basis.

From observations by research zoologists, it is now recognized that animals spend a greater proportion of their time doing nothing. They eat when they are hungry and have food available. They court and breed in season. A few gather and store food or build nests and shelters. But even these, most of the time, engage in inactive projects: dozing, rocking back and forth or wandering aimlessly.

Proverbs such as "Go to the ant thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise," or similar such as "busy as a bee," "work like a beaver" are pure fiction as these organisms clock at about two hours of work per day, after which they goof off. And hibernation is the ultimate in laziness. Only humans force themselves to work for benefits far beyond their immediate needs - funds for children's college, retirement and other long term projects. Our fight against laziness is perpetual and whatever help we get from our stimulating beverages is welcome indeed.

Laziness can be divided into two major types: physical and mental. Each may be further subdivided into actute and chronic. Discriminating observers recognize that in many cases these attacks of inertia can be partially met and sometimes completely overcome by a cup of brew.

Take the first daily problem everyone encounters: the act of awakening. Some are self aroused by a cerebral mechanism set for a personal time and have no difficulty facing their daily dilemmas. The lazy require a manual set alarm or manual agitation before they reluctantly awake.

It is rather surprising how the aroma of percolating coffee permeating a bedroom can end sleep. Although caffeine is volatile with percolator vapors, its percentage in coffee aroma is miniscule and would normally be insufficient to have a physiological effect on the breathing of a sleeper. Still, there may be some individuals, who are sufficiently sensitive to a few molecules of this stimulant per liter of air they breathe, that it can arouse them. Most likely it is a conditioned reflex wherein the aroma suggests the caffeine is coming. The brain anticipates its action and ends its somnolent state.

After every dinner, particularly if heavy, a wave of laziness permeates the entire body - which fortunately is somewhat neutralized by a stimulating after-dinner beverage. Before the 17th Century, before coffee and tea were introduced to western civilization, the largest daily meal was usually consumed at midday and the accompanying drinks were wine, beer or water. The after-dinner lassitude generated by this regiment led to the universal popularity of the siesta in all Mediterranean countries - which lasted up to four hours. In modern replacing times, replacing alcoholic beverages at mid-day meals with caffeine-types has resulted in reduced laziness and in many communities, the siesta has been phased down or even disappeared.

Workers often require an additional cup of beverage early in their work day to overcome their indolence. Where physical effort is involved, it has long been established that coffee overcomes lassitude and improves muscular coordination and the efficiency of delicate physical tasks, neutralizing the laziness accompanying the tedium of repetitive ones. Most corporations recognize the benefits of coffee breaks in overcoming developing laziness, and such interludes are practically universal in modern industry.

Mental laziness also is markedly antagonized by stimulating beverages Long periods of mental routine such as monitoring computer screens invite careless observations which can be ameliorated by a shot of a healthy stimulant.

"Writers Block" in many cases has a large component of mental laziness. It is not always recognized as such and often may be a function of some deep seated psychological conflict within the mental processes of the writer; but many of our ablest writers recognize that a cup of coffee during such a period will often accomplish a great deal in clarifying the problem - either by allowing them to overcome their inertia in facing the root of the problem; or gaining new insight on a different angle, thus overcoming the blockage, both acute and chronic. Many of our leading mathematicians and scientists, when beset by mental inertia, resort to coffee or tea. It's difficult to imagine how creative personnel can be continually attentive to their problems without a periodic brew.

An underlying temptation to slack off exists in every individual, which is probably why sloth is listed along with with lust and gluttony as one of the seven deadly sins. It has been a handicap for humans since the beginning of recorded history. In previous ages, the penalties for excessive display of this condition has been severe whipping, incarceration, etc. Even today the wages are cruel unemployment. A gentler treatment is a cup of coffee or tea.

Mild periods of laziness can often be rectified by a cup of brew. Major bouts require more drastic measures.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:a cup of coffee can overcome that lazy feeling
Author:Lee, Samuel
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:1063
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