Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Man Who Did No Work

Nathan Harris was 33 when he discovered he could do no work. 

Nathan, of course, did do some things. Everyone does things even if they merely breathe.

Nathan did many things more than breathe, but what he didn’t do was work. Not, at least, if you define work as “engaging in productive activities”. And none of the many things Nathan did could, in honesty, be described as productive. 

For his lack of work, Nathan took home a healthy salary for a man with no major expenses. Far healthier than earned from jobs he took in the naivety of youth at which he did, in fact, do actual work.

It was a discovery born of many mis-spent hours in the organisational services departments of various minor government agencies and large corporations. Both feature obtuse bureaucracies in which a man who does not wish to work can happily ply his trade.

It goes broadly like this. The first thing any department or “team”, depending on the language preferred, needs is a work plan. Nothing ensures that nothing productive ever happens quicker than starting a work plan.

For one, you can’t develop a work plan without a meeting. You can’t plan the work unless you bring the team together. Meetings were gold to Nathan and meetings to develop work plans were the shining jewel in his golden crown.

The best thing about these meetings is there’s never just one. The first meeting is filled with misunderstandings and confusions over the point of the meeting, the content of the work plan, the definition of work plans themselves and even, in the best cases, the very nature of the work they are supposed to carry out in the first place. 

So, having run over time, a new meeting will be scheduled.

This process can continue for a surprisingly long time, and Nathan found he didn’t have to do any work to ensure it happened. It happened naturally.

Eventually the natural cycle of meetings to develop a work plan runs its course, but thankfully that doesn’t end the matter. Soon there’s new meetings to discuss the progress of the work plan and the cycle begins anew.

Nathan’s next trick was to ensure he was only assigned non-productive tasks in any work plan. He never found a shortage.

For example, Nathan always volunteered to re-organise online filing systems. He drafted many proposals for new file-naming protocols involving shifting to, or from, the US date system of MM/DD/YYYY. These proposals always led to meetings.

Occasionally assigned a task that seemed dangerously useful, Nathan quickly discovered that introducing the smallest errors can bring large scale operations to a halt.

Asked to create an online form, Nathan would ensure one box was a little smaller than needed to function. Nothing so noticeable it would be picked up by those assigned to double check before green-lighting the form, but wrong enough to bring down the entire system the form was intended to serve. 

And entire systems crashing down always leads to meetings.

Or, if working in accounts, Nathan learned to raise an invoice with an error in the company name or address so minor only someone very specifically paid to notice would ever see it. 

Those paid to notice were, of course, his counterparts in accounts at the company being invoiced. And by the time they see the invoice, a whole bunch of meetings will have happened at both ends just to get to the point that an invoice could be issued. All so accounts can bring the process to a shuddering halt over a spelling error.

This isn't even the fault of accounts. They have specially designed computer programs to automate the process that will not work if the specific data provided is wrong. A whole host of people spent many hours not working to create these programs.

Emails will then ping back and forth to get the problem fixed. Ideally, meetings are held. Yet the issue will remain unresolved, because the different specially designed computer programs to automate the process that Nathan used were always incapable of formatting the invoice in the specific way required by his counterparts. 

The back-and-forth might never end. In his nine months in accounts at one job, Nathan failed to either successfully issue or pay a single invoice until the start-up finally went broke.

Nathan uncovered endless tasks to avoid work, but few are better than those involving task management software. These software programs seem like glorified to-do-lists but they take up much more time. In between entering all the tasks to do, giving them deadlines, filling in the detail, assigning the tasks where required, answering the querying comments and scheduling meetings to clarify the querying comments, many a week flew by. 

In fact, Nathan once held a job where he couldn’t have done actual work if he tried. The job was a content systems specialist at a company producing task management software that sold themselves as helping increase productivity. That start-up folded too.

Now as much as Nathan may have wished, you can’t actually hold meetings for every minute of every work hour. That’s where emails come in.

In breaks between meetings, Nathan always checked his emails. He even set it as a task in the task management software titled “check emails”. 

Emails were another gold mine. They frequently come from other sections of the organisation and would include a stream of tasks involving changing email signatures or filling in questionnaires for some organisational issue that would be filed in the wrong place in the badly organised online filing system and never seen again. 

When Nathan ran out of emails to read, he’d write his own. He liked to make these as vague and confusing as possible so recipients have no choice but to respond. This gave him even more emails to read and more to write in response. With a bit of luck, the ensuing confusion might even lead to a meeting.

Nathan found entire years could be filled this way. Of course, he knew there were those better off than him. He still had to show up at a set time for a set period of hours each day to take home an adequate salary. It was a long way from that entire class of people who did nothing yet were worth so much that the very concept of money as a means to any end was incomprehensible. The world was simply there to take as their birthright. 

No, Nathan was not one of the 1% of non-workers, not even the top 50%. Yet Nathan was happy. Because if nothing he did mattered then nothing was at stake. 

Feeling no pressure helped Nathan do his job extremely well. Frequently, he was Employee of the Month and rose up the chain of organisations until the roles offered looked dangerously like they involved responsibility for something actually productive. At which point, searching through job ads for the many positions requiring no work, he’d move on.

Nathan wondered if he could spend the rest of his work life doing no work. He couldn’t see why not.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Wow! The Demons-Pies clash was a classic and you can relive the commentary highlights here!


Wow-ee! Melbourne versus Collingwood last night, 2 v 3 on the ladder, was a blinder, played with finals-like ferocity! If you missed it, don't fret. I've compiled quarter-by-quarter highlights from Channel 7's widely lauded commentary team. 

The main reason to watch Friday night footy is to hear legends of the commentary box like JB and BT -- their immaculate use of language marred only by Daisey Pearce's petty interruptions to offer insightful analysis of the actual play. No wonder Rex Hunt is so pissed off.

Commentating AFL is a very tought job. I only ever tried it once and Channel 7 called security, I was banned from the MCG and BT took out a restraining order (so there was one bright spot). My respect for the JBs and BTs could not be higher.

Now you could watch a highlights package of the match, or you can just cut straight to the chase and read these collection of random comments culled from the game. If you don't know the result, I won't spoil it for you (your're day wil be spoiled enough when you find out).

Of course, the talking point before the game was Demon player Ed Langdon publicly declaring Collingwood were "All duck, no dinner" -- will BT, and ex-Pies player, make any mention of this? Find out below.


-The bounce gets us underway

- "They come straight after him!" "Looking for the duck, JB. There's his duck dinner right there! They have got him and they have given him chopped duck!"

- He's in for a torrid night'

- Now he knows there's a target in his back, he's going to be looking over his shoulder.

- Big thump!

- It's the start they would have planned!

- Exactly what the dr ordered for the Pies!


- What about that from both ends?

- Gives him the 'dont argue'

- Caught cold!

- We find out a lot about these two teams come the final series tonight

- His hands were incredibly clean

- What a start!

- Wow, you thought Collingwood were pumped up! The last couple of minutes have showed we've got two of those tonight!

- Jeez he had a good piece too

- The kick's a wobbler

- Ran out of tarmac  

- They just need a little bit of control here, the pies. To feel the footy a little bit, toss it around safely.

- It shows how amazing the drainage is at this ground

- The boos will come for Langdon all night 

- "The heat is on!" "Ohoho it's REALLY on JB! It's on in alright! Encouraging for everyone watching."

- Dribbling ball 

- Directly in front, obviously 

- Four straight plays two straight. And that's good! For both clubs!

- He wastes no time, he knows forwards like it in there quick 

- I think I said four in a row to Melbourne, I meant four straight 

- Oh, got a good piece!

- "Just for a moment I think he thought he was a genuine midfielder, Maxxy." "Not just for a moment BT, I think that's a permanent mindset for Big Max!"

- He can get wobbly with these, Big Max... and there's an example of it.

- If they could get him they would, but they can't!

- Wow! He says 'give me more,crowd!'

- And the big man stands up!

- You can hear. The crowd. BUZZING.

- Big grab!

- This just LOOKS like 2 v 3.

- The best candy seller in the business!

- Wow! He just carressed that!

- Finals feel about it.

- Ah, got to love it!

- Hot start!

- He's got ground level issues here

- Jeez BT, this is a precurser to what we're going to be seeing in September. Bring it on!

- What a game of footy!

- The little things matter 

- Do they reload and go? Time will run out here. What a… A 50 METER PENALTY! A 50 METRE PENTY WITH ONE SECOND TO GO IN THE QUARTER!

- Wow! What a mistake to make in the last 20, 15 seconds of the game … even if it is the first quarter.


- Little dribbler by Gawn.

- Sizzle everywhere!

- Not going to make the trip

- Real finals feel about it

- Viney's been instrument in this game… is he pinged here? No prior …

- So relaible in the air 

- Bit of a let-off there

- Good grab!

- They are dominating!

- They just got to start getting their hands on it, Daisy. 

- Absolutely no prior there!

- Straight into the guts of Jeremy Howe

- He can go all the way!

- Pulsating game!

- Salem's hands, always brilliant

- It was a wobbler!

- Wow!

- Loves it! Absolutely loves it!

- Looking for Gawn, nailed him!

- How good are those hands?

- High scoring affair

- Wow!

- What a half of footy, it's had everything it really has!


- He's got to remember in that situation the boundary line is his friend!

- Can Craig McRae conjure another miracle?

- What a goal this would be! Missed.

- Half messed this up

- That guy there Clayton Oliver, he's just untackenable…. he's so good at getting 

miraculouslous handballs out of the action zone if you like.

- They poked, they prodded, they teased, and they eventually found a way through!

- Look out! Gone! Macrae is a pressure animal!

- Colingwood just mounting a nice little mini campaign here.

- Journey shouldn't be a problem here.

- The pressure is really mounting .

- He's going to run out of room – GONE!

- His hands weren't up to it!

- Everytime Collingwood go in they score, that's the issue for Simon Goodwin.

- They're right under the hot poker here, Melbourne 

- Didn't they soak it up, Melbourne? They were RIGHT under the pump!

- Gee, almost a 50!

- The efficiency inside 50 for Collingwood tonight has been ridiculous!

- And deliberate, and fair enough too!

- They are CHARGING!

- Oh boy, Maxxy's had a bad night by foot!

- He'll have a crack for sure from here 

- What a final term we've got ahead of us!


- Not a great bounce.

- Had it and lost it.

- Gone!

- Now they have to grimly defend.

- I wonder if that's a throw, SURELY that's a throw!

- Very hard to see how that's going to be overturned, that's a mark!

- "Can't overturn that BT". "Oh gee there is a little bobble there Hodgey!" "No bobble." "No bobble, BT." "I must have been imagining it!"

- He could NOT have made a bigger mess of it!

- What a last 15 minutes we have got!

- Collingwood will not be denied!

- "Little bobble." "Yes, little bobble Daisey, thank you."

- How clean at the feet was Daicos?

- Neal-Bullen pounded by Maynard!

- How are they going to view this? Insufficient!

- Through to Daicos….YES PLEASE!

- it's a full on frenzy here in the last quarter!

- It looks every bit of 2 v 3!

- Gee, offence is king! It wasn't that long ago, JB, that defence was king!

- Pressure is really mounting 

- Big, big, big moment

- Time being chewed up

- Daicos with a little one

- Can you believe it, Collingwood are going to win again! In another thriller!

(Tragically, the Collingwood club songs starts playing and I black out)