Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My journey to the land of slow and steady

Yesterday, as part of my testing the adage "Slow and steady wins the race" I had to work at a strictly slow and steady pace for a half hour. I think of myself occasionally working at a slow and steady pace, though it is not my normal mien. But this half hour was a bit of an eye opener. I guess I've never worked that way in such a committed fashion before. My heart was pounding. My whole body tensed, relaxed, and altered. My mind whirred and floated. It was a thrill ride, and I wanted to share some of my experiences with you here.

The first thing I noticed was the cozy feeling of impervious safety. No one can say you're not working when you're silently moving along like this. No manager can think you are goofing off, no hostile patron can think ill of you, no camera or co-worker can catch you inappropriately (gasp!) reading (or writing!). It's a little cocoon of doing the right thing. Though I was only being, at the absolute best, mildly productive, I looked like I was supposed to look, and so I became agreeably invisible.

The second thing I noticed was how easy it was. I didn't get mad at little interruptions, there was no such thing as interruption. I never had to work hard, plan my next moves, use a lot of my brain, justify or calibrate when I worked and when I didn't. It was just one thing at a time, no decisions, no complications. Actually the hardest thing was just staying in that space, not going faster, but not doing other things too, not zoning out or giving in to curiosity.

The last big thing for me is how it illuminated some of my co-workers to me. Mostly it allowed me to see more of why they would work like this. I was struck how they could feel that complete fulfillment of duty in working like this. I could see how mild effort and lack of tension could be a reasonable way to go through the day. I could even catch a strange, alien glimpse of what it might be like to trust authority. This is how the whole rule based, hierarchical structure is set up to be satisfied. These are the exact job tasks to follow. They are all there for a good reason. No struggle, no reinterpretation, just, your job, as is. All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Of course, I don't think any of my co-workers are all the way over to any of this, but some are part way. And it was a taste of it for me. Strange, soothing, sleepy, and maybe just a little disturbing.

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