Feb 01 2008
Could somebody please tell me how we could be the greatest nation in the world, yet have to work so dang hard? And so often? Not in the rest of the world. No. I’m always hearing about how in Europe the average worker gets a total of 18 months of vacation each year. That is astounding, and wonderful.
But not us.
They have shorter work weeks, waiters come around dispensing cheese all day and they sing. They sing like they’re in a Disney movie!
And now I read about a Japanese company that gives you time off if you break up with a loved one and need a day or two to get over it. Huh? No doubt we are the greatest country in the world, but explain to me how we weren’t the ones to invent “break-up days.”
That’s just unfathomable.
I saw this in a Reuters story the other day. It was about a Japanese marketing firm that believes when a partner gives the other the shaft, it’s so traumatic that the jilted needs some time to grieve maybe even to go out and find a new significant other. And because it gets harder to recover the older you get, they give you more days as you age.
(I was curious to know, but it didn’t mention in the story, whether you still get the time off if you’re the one who did the dumping. That could be quite lucrative for the aging Japanese gigolo.)
But son of a gun, why don’t we get good work benefits like that? Why don’t we get the whole summer off, like we used to as children? For all of our ingenuity why can’t we invent robots to do all of our work for us? Everybody is so against robots doing our work. Man, I am dying for a robot of my own. I would just sit there all day and yell at him: “I told you to use the black pen when you sign my name! Now go get my iced latte with the caramel flavoring and then massage my feet.”
It’s my understanding that the French only have 35-hour work weeks, which sounds about right to me. They’ve legalized what we already do informally. Think about it: factor in an hour and a half of idle chit-chat in the morning, 15 smoke breaks throughout the day (I take smoke breaks even though I don’t smoke and a cigarette would put an asthma-sufferer like me in a coma) and the last two hours of the day spent on YouTube, and it leaves a grand total of only 15 minutes a day for actual work. Come to think of it, by legislating 35 hours a week, the French might actually be working more than us.
Many Spaniards still observe the siesta, which my Spanish relations tell me is supposed to help you sleep off that four martini lunch before you return to work.
Why should we be outdone by the rest of the world? Why should they best us in laziness and unproductivity? I thought those were traits we had down pat. If we want to continue to lead the world, we need to show them how it’s done. We need to beat them at our own game.
There are examples in the U.S. of us excelling this way. Some technology companies in California look more like dorm rooms, are loaded with toys, encourage goofing off to help you “think smarter,” and even with hundreds of employees only manage 15 seconds of work each day. YET THEY’RE BILLION DOLLAR COMPANIES!!!
Why can’t we all do that? I wouldn’t mind becoming a billionaire and learning how to juggle at the same time.
Come on, people, join the revolution.
Think of all you could do with that extra time — read more books; volunteer; learn to garden; see your children more; avoid your children more; get a second job.
These are the kinds of issues we need to be discussing, and what better time than in the middle of a heated presidential election. Come on politicians, help lead us into sloth.