One bright spot in this dark economy is the sharp decrease in workaholism. Former paper pushing addicts are now pushing strollers, lawn mowers and golf carts. The trend can also be seen in romantic comedies. Beautiful high-powered female executives are so desperate to kick the overwork habit; they’re hooking up with pudgy slackers.
Being a skinny slacker myself, I thought I was immune to workaholism. But it’s a family disease and I come from generations of hard-working Irishmen. Suddenly, childhood memories I had blocked out came flooding back: the sight of my father leaving the house in his three-piece suit, and my mother boiling spaghetti for nine children.
My parents didn’t mean to traumatize me like that. They were probably work-dependent themselves. Still, as the economy soured I found myself busier and busier at work. The backseat of my car was filled with mortgage foreclosures and divorce papers and I roamed city and suburb spreading misery.
It got to the point that I was working every evening and Saturdays, too. I began to think I needed help, so I got myself to a meeting. The chairman made us leave all of our electronic devices at the door. We weren’t allowed to have paper and pen either, for fear we’d start writing reports.
There was another newcomer besides myself. The poor devil had the “texts.” His Blackberry was in the bin but he couldn’t stop his fingers from texting urgent messages to his office. After an opening invocation, we took turns sharing our shocking stories.
I was impressed by the raw honesty and the feeling of safety in that room. One guy had missed his wedding, because he told his fiancée he had to stop at the office to “check his e-mail.” She found him there three days later, surrounded by stacks of fresh invoices he had typed. Another man was so consumed with a conference call at a Sox game that he missed the great catch that sealed a perfect game. A woman recalled the Sunday morning she was so tempted to open her spice shop at 3 a.m., she had to call her sponsor.
You can call it denial but I didn’t have any horror stories to match. These were people who were getting up at 6 a.m., while I rise just in time to make the 10 a.m. run to the post office box. With relief I remembered that my hard-work binge had lasted only a week and that my laziness was otherwise intact.
But just to make certain that I had work under control, I took the next day off and played golf. Standing on the fairway, I suddenly had an insight for recovering workaholics. I think you should pull the golf cart, pushing it is way too much work.