A Case Of The Mondays: First Day Slack
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I have recently quit my job as an associate editor -- and for those of you who don't travel in wordsmithing circles, that means I was an assistant monkey boy -- and taken a job with a new company doing what I know best: programming Web applications. It is a good job, and they pay me well enough so that I may casually buy $150 sweaters on the way home every evening. Today's outfit: fresh out-of-the-boutique-bag black wool sweater matched with a fresh pair of cotton slacks. Business casual? I think sexy is the word you're looking for. Or maybe gay.
I arrived early on my first day, and I wore a suit. Both of these things are drastically against my character, but I like to make a good first impression. I quickly set about familiarizing myself with the various things my new office has to offer -- coffee, tea, pens, notepads, beer! After pilfering and kicking back a few cold ones, I decide to become productive. However, I am met by a strange restrictive forcefield in the form of my new employer telling me not to do anything.
Now, I know programming. Many people have called me a coding ninja. Applications flow from my fingers like chocolate from Germans. So why was I being told to piddle around and surf the Web when I could have been reengineering the systems? I know that most work in the world is done by summer interns and underpaid college students, and so, as a full-time, highly paid consluttant, I didn't expect to do much work. But no work at all? Even on the first day? I'm stunned!
After a few hours of mindless wandering about the office, they finally sat me down and explained -- I need to familiarize myself with the systems before I work on them. I need to meet and greet the client.
I need to be trained and assigned and colated. I need to be broken in by my new, cruel masters before I begin doing actual work. The problem is, none of them have the time to leave their computers and strap on the studded leather leggings required to handle the new American kid.
So here's the question of the week: How long can I reasonably expect to do absolutely nothing at my new job? How long will training last? And when will it become obvious that all I've done is sit at my desk and update my Web site?
Work is a game where the goal is to do as little as possible and advance as far as you can around the board, collecting as many bonus points as you can fit into your pockets as you wait for the elevator.
I've been out of the game for a few weeks, but now I'm back, and I'm ready to play. Here are the rules I'm setting up for myself:
And the prize? A fat paycheck and the knowledge of a job well done. Not the job I was supposed to do, but a job none the less.
Ben Brown wrote this at work