When I was a child, my mother used to tell me that being lazy was more work than work. At first, I did not understand her reasoning and so, as children are wont to do, I ignored her. I didn’t think of myself as being lazy, per se, but rather as being discriminating about how and when I spent my precious energy. I later learned that my idea was simply another example of what Mother was talking about: Using twelve words to describe something when one word would have sufficed. Lazy.
By the time I graduated from high school I had gotten a better grip on what Mom was trying to tell me. I saw my friends struggling daily to concoct innovative methods and techniques for avoiding work. I noted many instances wherein these friends, whom my mother would have called ‘lazy’ and been done with them, spent far more time, energy and sometimes money to avoid doing something they could have accomplished with much greater ease had they simply done what needed to be done when it needed to be done. In the end, the ‘work’ still needed to be done and was usually twice as hard due to the time delay. For example, the grass was taller, the stain was set, the food was dried on the dishes, etc.
Most of the innovative methods my friends and later co-workers used to get out of work involved blaming someone else for causing the work to be necessary in the first place and then trying to invoke the idea of ‘fair play’ as an excuse to pass along the work to someone else in the second place. Unfortunately, placing the blame and then whining generally never worked and more like than not just made the whiner look not only lazy, but petulant. Two qualities not well liked by moms and/or supervisors.
One of the worst examples I saw of the Blame/Whine approach occurred when I worked as a supervisor over an institutional food service department where the workers were seasoned criminals and self-proclaimed experts on how to avoid work. Blame/Whine was always the first impulse and deeply ingrained in the prison psyche as the first line of defense when ‘supervisors’, ‘officers’ or ‘bosses’ tried to get them to do work.
I was having trouble with the ventilation system on the cooks’ floor at the time. The vent hoods above nine pizza-style ovens and five 80 gallon steam pots were not working properly. There were no windows in the area and the temperature was reaching upwards of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I passed through the area to check the vents and the temperature and make sure the four cooks I had preparing the evening meal were drinking plenty of water and taking breaks.
When I walked into the cooks’ area, I felt as if I had been struck a physical blow by the heat. The four cooks were struggling over two steam pots full of boiling foods. They looked extremely stressed by the heat and I could not believe how hot it was. I was about to shut the meal down and evacuate the area when I discovered that all nine of the pizza ovens were turned on and set at 350 degrees. The ovens were empty and had not been used since biscuits had been baked some three to four hours earlier in the day.
I turned to the cooks and asked them why the ovens were on and were they going to bake something I didn’t know about.
They all shook their heads and answered in the negative. Nothing to bake.
I frowned in puzzlement and asked “why didn’t you turn the ovens off?”
One of them replied quite quickly in a decidedly irritable tone “we didn’t turn them on; first shift did it!”
“Oh,” I said “then I’ll call them back to turn them off. Don’t worry. I won’t let them get away with wasting gas.”
Needless to say, the ovens were off when I passed that way again.