Making the least of your time

Unaplogetically by  Tom Ziegler

Reglar Wiglar #8, 1997

On this, the Twelfth Anniversary of my entering the work force, I am proud to announce that I have finally mastered the art of slacking off. Years of self-discipline, keen observation and a careful study of employer's habits have provided me with the skills needed to fully get the least out of my time on the clock. Certain critics have sanctimoniously disparaged my efforts with a trite. "if you spent the time you spend wasting time, on trying to make something of yourself, you could really be somewhere by now"; certain critics are also thirty-five and still wear a name tag to work.

In the spirit of the occasion, I am moved to impart my wisdom to the masses (masses being a relative term, since our readership can be tallied in the single digits). So find that out-of-the-way corner at whatever job it is you hold and spend a little company time picking up a few points.


This would be the first and foremost--the cardinal rule of slacking off. Since most managers and supervisors are promoted from within, one would expect their advancement to result from years of dedication and service. More often than not, however, the selection is based on the employee who gives the bossman's boots the most thorough tongue bath. As a result, your supervisor will not necessarily be noted for his or her mental acumen, rather their speech will more likely have been reduced to heroic couplets i.e. "if there's time to lean, then there's time to clean", etc.

While your ability to identify the rhyme scheme as iambic pentameter may have scored you points in that literature class back in college, it's not going to amount to a hill of beans when it comes time to clean the grease trap and you're standing there with your thumb up an orifice. Wipe a counter. Sweep a floor. Straighten something. Look busy.


"It's better to be a smart-ass, than a dumb-ass," sure made for a nice retort on the playground, but in the workplace, the ability to temporarily drop a dozen or so IQ points will not only aid in the keeping of your sanity, but it will further serve to avoid the error of accepting unwanted responsibility.

Some novices to the world of employment hold the fallacy that if one proves oneself to one's employer an intelligent, industrious, team player who routinely takes on more than is expected with a cavalier attitude, then it will logically follow that one will most certainly scale the corporate ladder.

One soon learns the hardest way of all that openly displaying an ability to do your job well will not only ensure one's permanence in that position ("Don't fix it, if it ain't broke"--the boss may say) but one may be saddled with the extra work based on one's masochistic desire to routinely take on more than is expected with a cavalier attitude.

When given any task, don't necessarily screw it up--if you look too stupid, you may be fired or promoted, but you never can tell, so don't risk it. However, do take you sweet time. It's a good idea to ask the boss just how much time, and then add an extra half hour.

Also be sure to stop several times to ask a lot of unnecessary questions--if it's a job worth doing, it's a job worth doing right--but really, it serves to add further delays and bugs the boss if you have a lot of unnecessary questions.


This really depends on the job. If you are a counter clerk, hiding under the cash register to smoke a cigarette will not necessarily defer notice from yourself but rather, it will attract attention. Some numbskull may even think that the building is on fire and dump a glass of water on your head.

Stockrooms make for excellent hiding places. If you have one, offer to rearrange it. Such an offer can only benefit you. Bosses are always complaining about "What a mess the stockroom is." Best of all though, he'll forget all about your offer thirty seconds after you make it, because as we all know, if the boss didn't think of it, it's not worth remembering.

Before those thirty seconds elapse, and the boss wonders why you are standing around doing nothing, flee to the stockroom and hide.

Think of the shelving units as the bunk beds Mom and Dad never got you. A carefully placed wall of soda cans will conceal your prone body as you drift off to dreamland. Don't forget to save the bubble-wrap that comes with the boxes. It makes for a most comfortable pallet on which to rest your weary bones. Be careful not to roll around too much lest the bubble-wrap reveals your whereabouts.


In the unfortunate event that you are working with a group of boot-licking, potential supervisors and managers, who foolishly subscribe to a Protestant work ethic--quit, find another job, or slacking off may actually require more effort than doing the job right.

Once you've landed a new job, remember, safety in numbers. If you are all in accordance that the boss is a money grubbing bastard, your collective ability to screw around will increase exponentially.

Of course, fair is fair. You can't all expect to slack off at once. While one or two of you are out back by the dumpster sharing a cigarette, a pint of vodka or any one of many hallucinogens, someone must...well...mind the store.

Be careful though, one person may not be able to make much of a difference, but let's put it this way, recent sources reveal that the Chrysler Corporation's collapse on the '70s was not due to flagging sales and a recessive economy, but resulted from a mass break around the water cooler to hear the latest Billy Carter joke.


Your effort, or lack thereof, may not go unrewarded. Based on your shiftless attitude, ability to avoid responsibility and overall lack of motivation, you may become a manager.

I'm reminded of a friend who was unable to avoid scrutiny of the "Higher Ups" and as a result was rewarded with a promotion. After a few weeks of receiving the silent treatment from his former friends, he took me aside and asked me to confide in him.

"Do you guys talk about me behind my back now?" he asked.

"Of course we do," I said.

"Why?" he asked, a look of incomprehension on his face, after all, we had snuck a bottle of bourbon into the break room together, we hade made long distance crank phone calls on the company phone together; why would I turn my back on him?

"Because you're the manager," was my reply.

My attitude may seem back-stabbing at first, but George's choice to join the ranks of management, with the knowledge of what the rest of use were getting away with, was betrayal enough on his part and a pretty dumb decision to boot.

As a manager one isn't paid much more that the "lowers", yet one is expected to work more, to pick up their slack, to discipline a group of malcontents who could give a rat's ass that you get to wear a sweater vest of a goofy hat or a tie.

Worst of all, as a manager one is under the constant supervision of the "even higher ups" and the only reason I can see to make such a choice is that you really don't know how to do your job and are anxious to prove it.

I hope you've learned something from our discussion. Take it easy.

Tom Ziegler has held jobs as a movie theater usher, candy counter clerk, projectionist, bill collector, telemarketer, office temp, envelope stuffer, librarian, waiter, Reglar Wiglar contributor and other such unfulfilling and thankless positions.

More by Tom Ziegler

Zima with a 'Z'
How to be a Smart-Ass
Save the Planet
Psychologically Unfit



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