Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The code

Among all our codes at the library I work at, among what we do say and what we don't say, one of our strongest strictures is that we don't talk about not working. Of course, this isn't just my workplace. All over America talk about not working while working is dangerous stuff, far more dangerous than discussing politics, probably because it's a kind of politics within itself. Officially everyone is working all the time. Everyone is supposed to be working, again, all the time. But one way or another most people only work about half the time, except for the people who work all the time, most of whom do far less work than the people who work only half the time, unless they're wildly underpaid and have few options, which is a different discussion.

I know, it's complicated. You can read that paragraph again if you want, and I'll wait here.

It's complicated because lies are complicated. Ideology is dangerous stuff. We don't work all the time in our jobs, but it reflects badly upon us to say it about ourselves directly. And since we don't like to lie we try to believe the lie so we can think we are telling the truth.

I'm not keen on any of this. So if I trust you, I will make a joke about not working. I will occasionally be frank about goofing off. I will be disarmingly direct about doing nothing for a bit. I do not court trouble at my job, but I believe part of my job is to let in a little fresh air.

So there I am joking about my seven coffee breaks, or how each book needs to be read before one can shelve it, or about how I embrace the times of slowness at my library as an opportunity for lots of delicious staring into space. And, if you work where I work, or are under similar strictures and taboos, you might find that appealingly irreverent, slightly refreshing, or possibly, if we're both lucky, a tad amusing. And you might want a piece of that delicious candor.

I just want you to understand that does not mean joking or referring to my not working. It means talking about your not working. And that's the main thing I came here today to explain.

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