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Wake up and smell the coffee (not made by you).

Byline: Sid Langley

I must say I was delighted by the reader reaction to my little piece the other day. Absolutely zilch.


Not a sausage. That is really good. Because for any of you who can be bothered to remember, the piece what I wrote was about doing the least possible amount of work. Sorry to tire you (and me) with a recap, but I'll keep it brief. There's a new bible of workplace slackerdom hitting the bestseller lists in France. Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness) is the title - a satirical little reference to the French classic novel Bounjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan. It's by Corinne Maier.

Her firm, the state-owned Electricite de France, has now begun disciplinary proceedings against her, but Maier isn't too bothered because the resulting publicity has pushed the book high up the bestseller lists.

Because I have this space to fill and couldn't be bothered to do anything else, I copied her Ten Workplace Commandments, as follows: 1. You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfilment. You work for your pay-cheque at the end of the month, full stop.

2. It's pointless to try to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.

3. What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time (not too much, if you can help it) cultivating your personal network so that you're untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.

4. You're not judged on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of leaden jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track.

5. Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You'll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.

6. Make a beeline for the most useless positions, (research, strategy and business development), where it is impossible to assess your 'contribution to the wealth of the firm'. Avoid 'on the ground' operational roles like the plague.

7. Once you've found one of these plum jobs, never move. It is only the most exposed who get fired.

8. Learn to identify kindred spirits who, like you, believe the system is absurd through discreet signs (quirks in clothing, peculiar jokes, warm smiles).

9. Be nice to people on short-term contracts. They are the only people who do any real work.

10. Tell yourself that the absurd ideology underpinning this corporate bullshit cannot last for ever. It will go the same way as the dialectical materialism of the communist system. The problem is knowing when ... I hope you enjoyed that.

I hope you read it at work in the firm's time.

I hope the boss didn't catch you.Yes, I was obviously a confirmed Maierite (although I didn't know it at the time) all through my school years, but, I hate to admit this, a few things did stick.

Not rods, poles perches, chains and furlongs and stuff like that. No chance. But inches are still with me and I could summon up pounds shillings and pence, ounces and stones and the like if I had to, and I'd probably know a few letters from the periodic table if I saw them.

I do realise that everything these days is in metres and all things decimal, but my knowledge of these ancient mysteries overwhelmed me the other day.

I'd just seen a press release mentioning a new development in Birmingham's Convention Quarter.

Now that's new to me. Gun, Jewellery, soon-to -be Irish, Latin, Chinese - all recognised Quarters of Brum. But Convention? Yes, you can see the general area that's meant by the term - the area fanning out from around Brindleyplace and the ICC. But do we need another Quarter?

Do the maths the old fashioned way and we are soon going to have to go to Eighths.

Iron Angle returns next week
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 28, 2004
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