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  • Ono Northey

Busy work boss

Have you ever had a boss who punished you for being efficient? I have.

I have often been quoted throughout my youth as having said that my body was cheap but my mind was expensive.


What I meant by that was that I would work my physical ass off for my employers for very little pay as long as my mind was left alone to think, learn, read/listen etc.


In fact, I sought out jobs whose downtime depended upon my effort, and figured they were cheaper than going to the gym anyway. I was on a mission, after all.


One such job was at a second hand store, where I was in charge of receiving donations dropped off. This translated to sitting in a large, uninsulated metal container that was cold in the winter, and hot in the summer.


I loved it. Within the span of a few days I got really, really efficient at it. Stacking in tactically minded, strategic bursts of speed. I was proud of how quickly I could do it, and I made it into a game.


I often earned myself multiple hours to read, research and learn. Very cool for me, not so much for my boss, who came out and told me to "sweep the parking lot."


Which, I did. Despite the fact that it was empty of refuse, despite the fact that it was raining. I did.


The first time.


However, when he came out an hour later and asked me to do it again, I saw what was up.


So I developed a strategy.


Every day there was "the box." Some guy would drop off his cannon ball collection or a box of iron ingots or whatever and it would be my job to get this behemoth onto a cart and into the store.


So what I did, was keep all of my boxes pristinely stacked and ready, all except for one. You guessed it. "The box."


The next time the boss came out with his busy work, I looked at him with a big smile and said "Oh, great timing, I'm glad you're here!" and I'd get his help with "The Box."


Now, I should mention... when I lifted this box, I made sure he did ALL the work, and, I made sure any "help" I provided only made it more difficult for him to get it all the way to the top of the pile.


I would say thank you, and, as soon as he went back into the office, I would reach up, and take the box back off the cart and continue about my day, still trying to beat my best times, and rack up as much free time as I could.


Eventually, he came out again, and again, I looked up with a big smile, happy with his timing and eagerness to help.


It only took two times with "The box" before he stopped coming out.


I tell this story for a couple of reasons.

1) If you have a job that you don't enjoy, ask yourself what you could do to enjoy it. Seriously, make it into a (one player) game and keep score.


2) If someone interferes with your game, they're just a mini-boss. There's always a red flashing box to show you where the target is. There's always a solution to their puzzle.


I think instances like this are happening less and less in today's authenticity-driven marketplace, but bad bosses are still out there, and I've found this a very enjoyable way to play.

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