WORK, said Oscar Wilde, is the refuge of people with nothing better to do.
The dictum-scattering playwright may have had a point. I say "may" because, on the other handbag, there remains the possibility that he had not. A point, I mean.
It depends how you define work. Where, for example, does his own work figure in the definition? Does it disappear up his own adage? Is play-writing work? Must work be useful? Might we describe real work as consisting only in producing things (which might include art) and fixing stuff (including humans)? If we describe it thus, we're forced to conclude that all the rest is nonsense.
Perhaps that's why new studies suggest workplace boredom is reaching epidemic proportions. It comes second only to anger as the emotion workers most need to suppress. Anger has always been there. It's always demeaning to work for – as in under – someone else.
So, anger isn't news. It's boredom that has excited the nation's commentators, as it's now so widespread even surgeons suffer from it. More paperwork, meetings and automation are among factors adduced in the nation's ennui.
Psychologist Sandi Mann, of Central Lancashire University, stifled a yawn and told CNN: "We seem to be in a culture of meetings, which a lot of people find boring." Meetings, indeed, are largely inimical to work, which is why jobs involving them tend to be highly paid.
A recent online poll delineated the 10 most boring jobs as: 1. Envelope stuffer; 2. Door greeter; 3. Data enterer; 4. Mail sorter; 5. Actuarial scientist; 6. Quality controller in food factory; 7. Supermarket security guard; 8. Bank cashier; 9. Receptionist; 10. Painter and decorator.
I don't agree with this. During my brief stint as a man of letters, or postman, I enjoyed sorting mail, which we did to blythesome pop tunes. Delivering mail is also worthy work, and so widens the definition beyond producing and fixing. I'm sure you can think of other examples, though I'm not really interested in hearing them.
Surely, a door greeter must meet interesting people, though I daresay he'd be given his jotters if he detained them in lengthy, one-sided conversations about his stuffed iguana collection. Perhaps, I'm thinking of hotel doormen, and greeters are these executives who cause alarm by saying hello as you enter an emporium.
Supermarket security guard, I understand. I feel for these schmucks. Some look like they're dying for a fight. Others are dying from angst. Lordy, how tedious to stand there all day, getting scornful glances from the lieges.
If I'd a job like that, it would be three days max before I was fired for hopping down the aisle with my underpants on my head, flapping my arms and singing "Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors". But, hey, maybe that's just me.
And one of the few good things about me is I work from home. I don't faff about, have no-one to gossip to or flirt with, never watch telly and, besides, have deadlines that concentrate the brainlobes.
Also, I love my work. You say: "Yeah, somebody's got to. Besides, shouldn't you have put work in inverted commas?" These are poor points, badly made, and I cannot entertain them here. Instead, I proceed to my pith or gist, which is that work need not be dull.
Working from home, I don't so much get bored as restless, resulting from a need to unwedge my buttockulars from my seat. Upon which, I nip out the back and talk to the birds, do mystical oriental exercises, perform minor gardening chores or just look up at the sky, something I can do for ages when there are interesting clouds.
I couldn't do that in an office. There's no-one here to chastise me or make me attend a meeting vis-a-vis factoring cloud-watching into a more structured spreadsheet of priorities. And, madam, I can confirm I am under no man or, for that matter, woman.
Poor workers. They're told: don't get angry, get even. To which I add: don't get bored, get your pants on your cranium and sing about nautical red-heads ("My idea of heaven, said an old maid down in Devon").
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