Lazy as s**t…REALLY???


by Kenneth Justice

~ At coffee yesterday my friends and I couldn’t help but notice the scene out the window of the café, a road construction crew was ‘hard’ at work redoing the pavement; about a dozen dudes were out there working on the concrete but over the course of an hour never more than two guys were actually doing any work, the rest of the dudes were usually leaning against their shovels.

Let me state for the record that I’m not making fun of construction workers; they work a whole hell of a lot harder than me; I’ve never had to lean against a shovel all day and I’m sure it’s quite exhausting!

Depending on the study, researchers estimate that employees waste anywhere between two and four hours per day. Thus, for the most part, half the work day is spent in non-company activity; surfing social networks, reading the NEWS, texting or calling friends, playing computer games, or leaning against a shovel.

Many employers have told me throughout the years that their employees are “lazy as s**t!

However, in my all-consuming quest to question everything in life; who says that we SHOULD be working every minute of every work day? Has anyone ever wondered who came up with this concept that we have to work non-stop from the moment we arrive to work till the moment the work day is over?

I’ve had some really good friends who were farmers; they are hard workers. But my farmer friends take a TON of breaks. Sure, they get up at four in the morning but they take a LOT of naps throughout the day, and they hang out and talk with neighbors for hours; isn’t this a good thing?

In the Western World’s quest to ever increase its technological advancements it seems that somewhere along the line we adopted a philosophy of working like hell. Perhaps it’s the Protestant work ethic that Max Weber wrote about so long ago, or perhaps we’re merely trying to outdo other countries; either way it seems to me that we have created such a fast-paced vocational life for people it wears a lot of us thin.

Yesterday at coffee a friend expressed to me, “Kenneth, by the time I get home from work I’m so damn exhausted that I eat dinner and have no energy left, I zone out in front of the television and then go to sleep. My life has become so boring because I’m just so tired

If we all admit that life is short and that it passes us by ever so quickly; why are we working so damn hard and missing out on so much in life?

Sadly, I just noticed the clock and I’m running out of time or I’ll be late for work……but what the hell, maybe I’ll have just one more coffee this morning, it’s not that big of a deal, is it?


p.s. thank you to everyone who wrote me such nasty emails over the course of the past two weeks in response to my articles about science and fundamentalism. It was ever so joyous to wake up each morning and see email after email from my readers calling me a s**t-head. If I had any doubts about whether scientists were moving into a new fundamentalist mentality; your emails have helped confirm my suspicions.

Categories: Culture & Society

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47 replies

  1. How many percentage of your emails who confirmed your suspicion on fundamentalist mentality?

  2. Well, I for one, totally back up your point of views on pretty much everything… actually… I don’t think i have ever much disagreed with what I read from you.
    Hopefully you won’t let these disagree-ers break you… They exist for balance! 😀

    And you’re right again about a work day… I wish I could chill out a bit more, too… I hardly do anything at my spare time except cook and sleep because all my attention goes into my work. Sucks… big time.

  3. I have been in that same place dealing with the fundamentalist mentality of many scientists. That is the reality of people. The majority seem always keen to follow someone or some set belief, rather than think for themselves. Science hasn’t changed that feature of human nature unfortunately.

  4. You certainly are not a sh*thead, and we need to move back to a healthy questioning of our society. The fact is that we have not reached perfection, and we need to keep challenging the direction in which we are headed. If we don’t, then history may repeat itself – just look at where Islam from the middle ages has ended up. From the leading light in the world to a now relentless fight against the forces of fundamentalism.

  5. I believe that we are not meant to work all the time. Our productivity should be weighed by the outcome of our labor. A standard should be set for each job. How it is carried out should not be the issue but the outcome should. I believe in a system that also rewards high productivity.

  6. funny, I was on the same wavelength this morning!

  7. You’ve discovered what I would have thought you already knew – that a particular school of thought does not guarantee wisdom. Although I’m dismayed at any insulting emails you may have gotten, I hope you’re not using them to disregard mere disagreement in your comments.

  8. Why do so many people turn to insults as a way of showing disagreement. It would be much better to come back with a valid reason for disagreeing with what you wrote in the hopes of changing your mind. S**thead isn’t really a valid argument and doesn’t really say much for their ability to think despite being scientists..

    • He didn’t say that the people writing him were actual scientists. And if their response to dissent is to call someone a s**thead, then I sincerely hope they aren’t because I’m concerned about their ability to be rational and objective – important qualities for scientists to have. That said, I agree completely with your bewilderment on people being so quick to insult online. If they had to respond directly to his face, I suspect they’d be much more respectful.

  9. Ha! Enjoyed the P.S.
    Lazy is the natural state. Even Balanchine had to yell at his dancers to get them to move. Am reading a book now called “Fast and Slow Thinking”. Apparently we are even lazy at thinking.

  10. I think construction work is exhausting. Maybe they work in shifts and two dig while some rest and then they change places. Outdoor work of any kind is tiring. Too hot or freezing cold…if it’s not nice outside. Construction work is hard on the body. People always say city workers are lazy or don’t work. Some of them might not but a lot of time it’s true about the guys who run things, not the workers themselves. There are always people who will take advantage of whatever they are doing. But, for the most part, I think road work and construction teams do a good job.

  11. Ha ha! I love your P. S. 🙂 this is why choose to be self-employed. I’m poor, but it is a lovely, (mostly) guilt free existence. And I get to lay on my bed at 10:55 AM and read blog posts for a little while. I’m cool with that.

  12. I’ve worked at places that had everything locked down because they only wanted you focused on work, and I’ve worked at places where they encouraged us being in touch with what was going on – and I was a lot more productive when I had the freedom to check my personal emails!
    Some days there is a lot of productivity coming from me and there are days, like the construction workers, that I put in a full day, but have nothing to show for it. Sometimes it is spent waiting on others, and some days the hole is only big enough for two shovels at a time!

  13. If you haven’t, you should pop over to John Michael Greer’s blog called The Archdruid Report. I won’t put in the link in case it’s offensive to you or something. He has quite a bit to say on what he calls the “religion of progress” which scientists are a big part of.

    I don’t know what kind of work those researchers are researching but I can tell you no one in my field has time to waste. I work in health care, in an inpatient facility, and ALL of the nurses and CNA’s are running from the time they hit the floor until they go to lunch and finally home. I don’t even get a 15 minute break, and often don’t get lunch. And getting off on time….?? RIIIIGHT. That happens so seldom I actually call my husband to let him know I’ll be home on time, not that I’ll be late.

    I do know that in medieval times a peasant worked an average of 40 days or so for the lord, the rest of the time for themselves, and there were a lot of holy days where no one was allowed to work. Personally I’d rather live then than now other than the whole sanitation knowledge and antibiotics thing 😉 I am in a masters program right now, finishing in the spring, and one of the main reasons I am doing it is so that I never have to work for someone else again unless I choose to.

  14. About 60 years ago in the Soviet Union was a lot of talk that by year 2000 every Soviet citizen will be working only 4 hours daily. It never happened! I am sure that it’s high time to think about a 3-days workweek or a 4-hours workday (without cutting salaries). It can make people happy and sharply cut unemployment.

  15. I work a mentally demanding job. Sometimes I feel guilty if I’m not “on” all the time. But then I realize that (within responsible limits), the goofing off often helps me do my job better. It gives me a break and when I come back to the problem I was trying to solve, I see what to do right away. I personally don’t think the company should care whether I beat my head against the wall for 6 hours and then do the work in 2 or beat my head for 4 hours, take an hour break, and then do the work in 2. In fact, I would hope they prefer the latter.

    Regarding your comments on scientists and the responses you’ve been getting, I admit to bristling just a bit when you started making them. Mostly because I live in a very evangelical area and I’m wary of any “attacks” on science. But you weren’t commenting so much on the science itself as you were on the scientists drawing conclusions that are outside their purview. That’s a problem that a lot of people have. My dad (a minister) commented on his frustrations with religious types delving into science in their attacks on evolution. He said that what they were doing was actually undermining the important role the church has to play in discussing whether science should be doing a particular thing. When Christians start trying to tell scientists that their science is wrong, scientists stop listening to the Christians and thus don’t hear the Christians’ attempts to say something is unethical and shouldn’t be done. Likewise, when scientists try to use their discoveries to draw conclusions about the meaning of life (for example), they are overstepping their bounds and the non-scientists then dismiss them even more, meaning less science ends up understood. And people calling you a s**thead… I’ve never understood the need that so many people have to “go there.”

  16. we all have been brainwashed to be consumers . . . as good consumers we must work hard so we can earn more money in order to by more shit that we don’t need.

    Or climb some corporate ladder to nowhere . . . or become an expert on something we really don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground about.

    Or become a well known celebrity with lots of clout . . . so we can sit around worrying about getting old and the next tummy tuck . . .

    Or . . . we could just relax and enjoy the day. . . .

  17. Growing up, my parents told me I couldn’t go to conventions or concerts. Those were things you did in college. In college, they made sure I knew all other activities outside of school were less important. Having fun, traveling – those were things you did after college. What do they say now? I’m not sure. I kind of stopped listening to that mantra. I’m still busy, but I fill life with as much fun as work.

  18. As an employer myself I will tell you from my perspective why it is important to get what I pay for. For example I have hourly wage employees. I pay them by the hour and I expect that for that hour of wage I get an hour of work. I own a small business and I work hard. I am far from rich but if all goes well then someday I will have made it. I work hard and I expect those that I hire to work just as hard on what ever their task are. Now in the past I have hired salaried employees and in the end that did not work out so well. I paid above industry average and I got below industry results. When I switched to the hourly wage I got better workers but I do have to fight the sense that time is always being wasted. If they were on salary then I would not worry so much about it as long as everything got done on time. Over all my employees do well and we are almost always on time for everything. I agree we should have multiple quick breaks throughout the day it makes the day go easier and the work better. I still have a hard time watching someone I pay an hourly wage to check facebook on my money. I think they need to leave that for their own time.

    The question I have is how do we change the way our society has set up our system so that we can balance it out. again I do not want to pay for their facebook time.

    • I am soooo with you. I also own a small business and I am happy to pay high hourly wages as long as when people are checked in, they are working. I’m ok with them checking out and taking long breaks if they are getting the job done when they are checked in. I just can’t make the company run when I’m paying for people to be on their phones or spin in their ergonomically correct chairs.

    • My father owned quite a few businesses when he was alive, and even though he could be a stick into the mud when it came to certain things; he never treated his employees like slaves; they got so many breaks it was like heaven 🙂

  19. I want a 5-hour workday called full-time. Then they’d see productivity.

  20. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA with capital letters. I love the p.s. thank you note Kenneth. I literally laughed out loud. I’m sorry you had to wake up to such – ahem ‘cheery’ good mornings.

    Anyhow, I totally hear you in this post. As you know, I live in Brazil. The mentality here, at least in the North East, is different (but not always. A lot of North American mentality is creeping in I think). For example, my niece just got married. A week before the wedding I asked her if she was going to get a job and all (being that she moved to a different city). Her response was sooooo not Western mentality. She basically said, “No, I’m not going to work right now”. She’s going to get adjusted to being married (never lived apart from her parents and was a virgin-at age 25). Now she has a university education in Physical Education. I think western mentality would say, “Are you out of your mind? You have this education and you’re not doing anything with it? Are you a lazy bum? Don’t you have any pride? You’re just going to let your husband make the money? What a waste of a life.” As for me, I say, GOOD FOR YOU! Live your life girl. Enjoy having a ton a sex with your new hubby. Enjoy growing into your home and making it truly yours. Enjoy getting to know your city and community better. LIVE YOUR LIFE. And don’t do what ‘society’ expects, nor shouts loudly until your deaf to what you know is right for you.

    Anyhow, just my 2 cents worth. hehehe
    Hope you’re well.

  21. I love the way you think Kenneth. You question everything. I wish more people would do that.

    I think we are way too complacent and compliant and most people are happy to just follow the herd. May be good for them but I think not very good for the progress of society. Who would ever invent something new or even come up with a new idea if everyone was just accepting of things the way they are and have always been?

    As for work. In general I think people probably spend too much time and effort at work. Especially at minimum wage jobs where they can barely survive for what they get paid. Yes, I know it is meant to be just the bottom rung on the ladder and it is what society will pay for those kinds of services, but sometimes I see people busting their ass to work those jobs and it just doesn’t seem right for someone to work that hard for so little reward.

    I am one of the lucky ones. I am able to work at a job where I can get a lot of time off. I get paid reasonably well, (but still not nearly enough considering the responsibilities I have). I am still exhausted when I come home. I work 30 12 hour days straight. I don’t come home for the entire time. Then I have a couple of weeks off. It takes me a few days to rest when I get home and then a couple of days to prepare to go back. This most recent job has me busy with crap while I’m supposed to be on vacation too. If that doesn’t stop soon, I think this job is not going to work for me. At least I have some choices. If not for obamacare, I would have many, many more of them!

    I would like to see some changes in our society, where everyone is valued for what they contribute. I would like to see every job compete in a free market environment for workers. I think that would balance things out quite a bit. I wish more people understood what a real free market was. It is NOT at all like what we have now. What we have now in the USA is called corporatism, or even fascism. I would like to see that whole system overturned and the PEOPLE and not the corporations run things!

  22. It’s so funny reading this post today as I’m taking a bit of a break from work now because I have a meeting to be at soon lol. I have to admit I didn’t get nearly enough work done today (but a lot of that is emotional tiredness and fighting off oncoming depression – long story – and much of why I’m just not around like I used to be; I have all but abandoned my blog due to lack of any motivation but I think that’s slowly turning around; we shall see). Anyway (my point) – I have read somewhere or heard that the difference between Americans and other countries, such as Europe, is that we have this notion that we have to work 8 hours every day and be productive every single day! Vacations are harder to come by and are for shorter amounts of time (granted some of this may have changed as I heard this some time back). Either way, it had me thinking. I tend to agree it’s probably more productive to have maybe 4-6 hour days and more vacations because we’d be less apt to burn out and then really NOT be productive at all. Hello?? Ever see that movie “Office Space?” lol. Granted – that movie was more about work environment too but still – lots of great points. Great post! One I totally back (for a change haha!). I’ve missed reading your blog – hope you missed me too muahahah 🙂 Sorry about the buttheads! I’m not sure how you handle all that negativity but you seem to do well. If I ever get to writing again I expect to see you at my blog mr lol. Just saying. 🙂

  23. Road construction crews are like NFL quarterbacks — everybody gets to seem them perform (or not) and more than willing to offer their judgments — even though they have no idea what they are talking about. The busyness of our culture catches up to me quite regularly — thanks for your engaging reminder.

  24. Though I was brought up with the Protestant work ethic, and am still saddled with the lifetime of guilt it bequeaths, I now live in Spain’s Andalucia, where people aren’t afraid to hang around on street corners doing nothing.

    The first time I saw this Mediterranean way of life was on the Greek island of Corfu. I remain impressed to this day. The islanders only worked when they had to, and if they didn’t, they did whatever they liked doing best. More than half the male population seemed to enjoy slouching about on corners best, sucking at toothpicks

    The same goes for here, and I wish I could do more of it. Why feel the need to hide away when you are unemployed, or just at rest? The urge to be doing something all the time ends up with life passing you by so quickly you were too busy to notice before it was too late.

    As for having a head full of excrement, take it as a compliment. I enjoy your controversial stances, even when they are naughtily designed to poke a little stick at our tender regions, Much better than constantly going with the flow to nowhere in particular.

  25. First of all I want to thank you for the break I get every time I read your blog. A second coffee always helps me re-focus. Wonder if we’re always being productive or just busy.
    Hope you are taking breaks from us and have fully recovered now. 🙂

  26. I’m not lazy, I just like to read good blogs at work 😉

  27. I made the mistake of working myself into a state of extreme chronic ill health (as a workaholic), but initially I thrived on hard work. Now, having had to take early retirement due to serious chronic ill health, I say “wake up every one”.

    Look after number one – you – because when it all boils down to it, no one else is going to look after you when you’re bed bound and cannot raise your head (and have no friends or family living close by).

    I wished that I had been able to ‘job share’. Some poor unemployed person could have worked part-time behind my desk and not ‘lining up for unemployment benefits’.

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