(This is for my peers – those who are on the second or third rung of the ladder in a large corporation. If you are the next Steve jobs, move along…nothing to see here. )
Nothing fascinates me more than the people who repeatedly use the phrase – “I was busy” to explain their social rudeness.
In the 17th century, if the viceroy told me they were busy inspecting the defenses of the town because raiders were imminent, I could take their word for it.
I could be sure that the prospect of having their skin hung from the ramparts should the raiders break in, is probably focusing their mind beyond mundane matters like social courtesy.
But the whole drama of being perennially busy – without being able to explain how any of it has any bearing on your own life – is a uniquely modern, corporate phenomenon.
Not something created BY corporations, but by a certain kind of employee.
You see, in the modern corporation, ANY job can be done (or at least be pretended to be done) by a multitude of people with a minimal of training.
To believe that your job HAS to be done ONLY by you requires a level of brain-washing that can only be achieved by cutting your skull open and flushing it with dish washing fluid.
However gullible you personally may be, I assure you that me, all your friends, your family, your dog, your fish and that rock that sits outside your gate remain unconvinced.
My own level of disbelief comes due to a self-appraisal via the following Key Performance Indicators –
I was a normal student from average institutions where my performance was judged tactfully as mediocre but I was considered ‘educated’.
I was employed five minutes after the consideration was official and have never been out of work since.
First job: Best friend who worked there got me in.
Second job: “We have to fill in a quota. This team is supposed to have ten people. You’ll do.”
Third job: Least worthless candidate willing to change cities on short notice.
In each location, my ability to brainlessly float through the day in a semi-competent haze was judged sufficient enough to let my income inexorably rise about 5 to 7% every year.
If I was a stock market, people would be selling their babies for my shares.
I am grateful that I was lucky enough to be born in times where this is possible.
Because if I was in the 17th century with the same skill sets, then I would probably be the third victim of the aforementioned raiders, killed while I blindly ran, squealing at the top of my voice, into a tree.
Many denounce ‘busy’ people as being nothing more than mindless cogs in the machine who know not what they do.
There are two fundamental flaws in this line of thinking –
1) Assuming that a cog is not essential
If I were to remove a cog from your car – then just around the moment when I would staring at it and saying “oops”, you would be careening spectacularly off the road with a jammed…something.
But what if my ‘busy’ friend were to keel over and die?
Well if they are lucky, they will be remembered in the company like so –
“Congrats newbie, you get the dead cubicle. Oh that’s right, didn’t you know? The last one here…just upped it and died. Don’t worry, they have deleted all the data from the computer, it’s as good as new.”
I may know nothing about cars, but the point is that machines break down, sometimes quite badly, if you remove a cog.
2) Assuming ‘busy’ people are merely ignorant
None of us have control over our lives. We are all awash in the sea of time with no paddles.
Most of us are fine with that. Some of us are not and they rise up to change the tide for all of us.
And some of us are too little on the outside to change the tide but too big on the inside to float along with it.
It is my guess that this is what drives the ‘busy’ people.
After all, is there any better way to feel like god than to end conversations with heathens via “I am busy right now with ‘work’ so I can’t talk to you” while showering devotees and the blessed one with remembered phone calls?
(Alright there are a billion better ways to feel like a god, half of which involve at least some smiting, but we are considering a unique mindset here.)
It is not ignorance, it is about control.
Now there are some folks that fear the ‘busy’ people.
Soon, these folks warn, we shall ALL be mindless drones forever filling in excel sheets, only briefly pausing to answer automated calls, yelling “I am busy” and then disconnecting immediately.
These fears are completely groundless.
The ‘busy’ people, who instinctively ‘know’ that their job is like ‘super important’, cannot organize effectively. They are all too ‘busy’.
This is why we have had a Baron’s revolt, many slave uprisings, several restorations and even a velvet revolution, but the world will never roll its eyes cynically to a ‘busy’ people’s rally.
I feel there is only one possible scenario in which ‘busy’ people will cause the end of the world.
What if the world was about to explode? Never mind how, it’s just going to blow!
And the one switch that can put an end to this horror is lying in a desk in a cubicle somewhere. And all that needs to be done to save the planet is – turn off that switch.
It’s too far to go yourself! Quick! There is no time! A phone call!
“Hello! I have to talk to you. It is very important! TURN THE SWITCH OFF!”
“Look, I busy, I am at work and I REALLY don’t have time for this stupid crap! I am hanging up now!”