Avoiding the steep slope of success is vital to any young Deserter. If you’re unfortunate enough to land a job, elevation can bring about scrutiny, or worse, responsibility. And who wants to be responsible for anything other than the degradation of their own organs?
Sure, a bit more money’s nice, but promotion can lead to uncomfortable questions about your whereabouts and how you spend your day, like it’s suddenly everyone’s fucking business that you woke up in a hotel bed wearing a cling film nappy, cuddling a quadruped. The indolent must be forever vigilant to protect the vagueness of his or her precise location until it’s time to knock off.
Climbing the greasy pole can bring terrible demands on your time to attend meetings at an hour when you should be brushing the bacon sarnie crumbs off your pyjamas.
You’d think incompetence would be enough. But you only have to look at politicians and football managers to know that failure is no bar to advancement.
Worse, in the real world, poor performance can get you the tin tack. In these heady days of efficiency savings and craven productivity, there’s always a bean counter looking for a knighthood by cutting staff to the bone. Ordinarily, being made redundant would be a bonus, what with that lovely pay-off and the sheer excellence of daytime TV. But what if you’ve got mouths to feed? You simply can’t allow yourself and your butler to go hungry.
Show willing, but complete as little work as possible. Be the master of the pending project. Delegate upwards. Volunteer for nothing. If you must go to meetings, make sure you don’t contribute in any way that might mark you out as someone with their finger on anything other than the biscuits.
Be at one with your surroundings, like a zen carpet. Blend in, so that when promotions or redundancies come around, yours is the last name anyone remembers. Consider changing your name bi-annually to throw them off the scent and keep you off lists.
Former havens of the work-shy – the nationalised industries, councils, the Civil Service etc – have been trimmed down to become lean machines devoid of comfy, indefinable positions where the slacker might find salaried peace.
Once, you could remain undetected in an entry-level Government-funded gig for a lifetime; doing very little, whilst complaining about your heavy load and massive pension. Now, you’re expected to work for it, as if you weren’t an actual princess, like your mama said you were.
Now, only vast multi-nationals are big enough for people to get lost in. The bigger the company, the better the chances of the endless lunch for the picaresque hero.
It’s a difficult balancing act, doing just enough to keep your job, but little enough to avoid being noticed. The tightrope is fraught with danger, as my early years proved.
Little Dirty South
Before I took up job-dodging full-time, I was a work-shy schoolboy. Immediately after failing my GCSEs, I decided to take a gap year for as long as possible. After a summer of watching Test cricket and nicking the old man’s booze, I was told to get a job or get the fuck out. Or at least leave the gin unmolested.
A largely fictitious CV landed me a gig at an awful market research company where I took up smoking for the hourly breaks and became a national expert on recommended rests from computer screens for health and safety reasons. It was a crap job, but I grew to love the fags.
Staff turnover was high, and so after sticking it out for six months, I was the longest-serving Assistant Amoeba in the company. I was called in to the office and asked how I would fancy stepping up to supervisor, with responsibility for an entire team of two. I was too young and naive to simply refuse. I offered alternative names for the role to no avail. Apparently recently deceased celebrities were ineligible.
I left the meeting distraught. Desperate for an out, I walked straight into the corner of a staff locker, collapsed on the ground, rubbing my eye into the cheap carpet to redden my face and faked losing consciousness by cunningly shutting my eyes without laughing.
The weasel-faced boss smelt a rat (though it could have emanated from his rank cheap suit), but I refused to open my eyelids. I just muttered, deliriously: ‘Possible concussion.’
The weasel insisted on escorting me to the hospital. I was therefore forced to continue the charade, spending the night in hospital, where, still pretending to be unconscious, I suffered being touched up by a curious female nurse in a frankly pleasant way, when no one was looking.
I made a miraculous recovery and returned to my duties after a suitable period of sick leave, as if nothing had happened. Promotion was never mentioned again and I retired, penniless, at 19, but with a lifelong nurse-based peccadillo.
I subsequently attempted retirement several times, whenever I was threatened with progress or prosecution, until I finally achieved unemployability. My early experiences taught me that advancement lurks around every corner and must be faced with extreme cowardice and determined evasive tactics. There’s an army of wonks out there, trying to get you to take work seriously; to grow up and give up. The work wonk wankers.
When, oh, when will they leave us alone?
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Image Credits: Main photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bacon Sandwich, by Christian Cable. License: CC BY 2.0, BT Tower By User:Mahlum [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, Good Samaritan, by Gabriel Nicolet, 1914-1915