As I write this, I am in a work meeting. I am doing so because I have lost a bit of give-a-fuck. Maybe a lot of it.
A few years ago I realized that I had a mental gap when it came to the concept of ‘work’. I worked, but I understood my work. I was a teacher, and I was an education manager. I knew what ‘work’ looked like for me. That was very clear. But what the fuck was it that everyone else did? All my normie friends who work in those mystical ‘offices’, what do they do? What gets contributed to the economy, to the real world, in those big ugly buildings we have everywhere.
I had no idea. And it was intimidating because at the time I was considering transitioning out of ESL and into the normie working world. But I would look at job averts with utter confusion, and I would imagine my friends working while singing the Tom Waits classic “What’s he building in there?”
I am now starting to get a better idea. My first clue came from the fact that whenever I tried to use Tinder or some other online dating app, people only ever seemed to want to talk to me on it during working hours. I was teaching during many of these hours, and couldn’t stop every few seconds to chat up some broad. This often got me unmatched from people. But the important thing that came to mind from these experiences was always – “But shouldn’t you be working right now?”
I started, I admit with very little evidence, to believe the socialistic myth that the higher up you go in a work hierarchy the less actual fucking work you do. A CEO can take five months off and the ship sails fine. But if all the bottom rung employees take five months off, you are going to have massive fucking problems. As a teacher, I can’t neglect my duty. When I am in front of my students, that is all I am doing. I am not blogging, or chatting or any other of this shit. I am all in.
I would expect everyone else is as well. But apparently I am wrong.
Thanks to the ever-gift-giving global pandemic, I have been in a number of meetings. In most of them, many people have their cameras off and their microphones muted. Some obviously don’t, and we have all heard people’s crying babies in the background of a call. But earlier today, a woman left her mic on and we could hear her having a separate, irrelevant work conversation on the other line.
But there are worse ways of getting caught out. One of the people without their webcam or microphone on had clearly walked away from the computer to do other things while ‘on the meeting’, and we found out about this when their webcam was turned on by her two young daughters mid meeting.
And then there is just my flatmate / coworker who I watch ‘multitask’ through every meeting we have together. I keep my mouth shut, but I think everyone knows that when she is smiling and smirking though nothing in particular was all that funny it is because she isn’t really there.
And so I am skeptical. I am skeptical of that other colleague of sorts (similar job, different organization) who is on literally every meeting I have attended ever, always has her microphone off, always has her camera off, and has never, not once, said a singular word over the course of maybe 25+ meetings now. Even when the presenter said everyone must participate. Even when she was called in person. Never a word.
I’m sorry, comrades. I’m gonna get all socialist now. I am just increasingly convinced that office work isn’t real work. If I were to add up all the time I spent in meetings across my weeks at this job alone, and look at what was actually done with all these fucking meetings, the answer would be maybe five or six actual important decisions were made. The rest of it was people blowing their own horns. And I am becoming increasingly convinced that office work mostly isn’t work. It’s middle class paper shuffling.
I’ll jump in here and say that, to be fair, some people I know report that there are days where they might as well not be in the office, and then all at once there are days where they might as well not even bother going home. But I still get the impression that a lot of people do not do fuck all.
What’s truly sad is that I can’t tell if I want in or out of this.
Anyway, give waiters real wages. You’d proabably drop the fuck dead if you had one of their shifts.