Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States

Vive La Loafing! 649

Posted by simoniker
from the bonjour-to-sloth dept.
theodp writes "Bonjour Paresse, an anti-corporation slacker manifesto whose title translates as 'Hello Laziness,' has become a national best seller in France and made a countercultural heroine of its author, who encourages workers to adopt her strategy of calculated loafing in response to dimming prospects of success for rank-and-file employees. Could a translation find a Silicon Valley audience?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Vive La Loafing!

Comments Filter:
  • Slacker Thee (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:15PM (#9982931) Homepage Journal
    who encourages workers to adopt her strategy of calculated loafing

    In english: reading/posting on slashdot (e.g. I should be working on X but wonder if CowboyNeal is mentioned in the latest slashpoll)

    in response to dimming prospects of success for rank-and-file employees.

    Got news for you, there was a terrific article in the Detroit Free Press back in the 80's regarding the epic scale slacking which contributed to the ills of the automotive industry. Overly strong unions and workers with an "I deserve stuff" attitude resulted in many of the anecdotes of redundant jobs and slacking where the line was already overstaffed (workers taking turns going across the street for a few quarts of beer and sitting on the roof working on tans and such.) I went to school with a lot of laid-off workers who recounted many tales which often even amazed them by the audacity of the perpetrators. Slacking is by no means unique or original to people in IT.

    Could a translation find a Silicon Valley audience?

    Dunno, when Silicon Valley finally hires a a worker I'll ask.

    Work hard. Learn new skillz. Get sacked anyway

    • Re:Slacker Thee (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TyrranzzX (617713) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:09PM (#9983601) Journal
      I believe the goal here is to show bosses that giving the fruits of their workforces labors to the workforce and not to investors or themselves is the key to success. Infact, it is the key to making a capitalistic society go round. Unfortunatly, a corporation exists for the enrichment of investors, workers be damned unless they own voting stock. The workers revolt by working based on their pay; if they're paid minimum wage to stock shelves, they work slow and slack off. If they're paid $8 or $10 to stock shelves, then they work hard.
      • Re:Slacker Thee (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dravik (699631) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:21PM (#9983722)
        This only works if you can get rid of bad workers. My brother works at Publix and this is how they do it. Pay at the top of the range and you always have a pool of willing new hires. Then you can set higher standards for hiring and toss out the slackers. Resulting in a workforce of good hard working people whoes higher productivity and motivation cover the higher labor cost. If, as in France, it is almost impossible to get rid of poor workers then the higher pay method doesn't work. Your good people get fed up with having to take the the slack from the lazy guy and leave. Eventually the unremovable slackers build up and you have high labor costs with the same level of people as everybody else.
    • Re:Slacker Thee (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cubicledrone (681598) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:21PM (#9983727)
      regarding the epic scale slacking which contributed to the ills of the automotive industry

      While the hairpieces in middle management heroically toiled late into the night to keep the business afloat, no doubt.

      Funny how the slightest voice in support of workers generates a response of "they're just a bunch of lazy bastards who want more money for less work" along with the obligatory "they're all in unions too."

      The article makes a very important point: that the possibility of success in the average corporate job is zero. That much is quite beyond dispute.

      Now, let's all sing the company song.
    • Re:Slacker Thee (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:31PM (#9983821)
      I am not a lazy employee. I am a very dedicated, loyal, hard-working employee with the best of work ethics. I just want a company that values me and that will reward my hard work with more than a pending layoff. If I knew that I would be with a company for most of my life, like people did a generation or two ago (or they do in some other countries), I would continue to be the most productive, enthusiastic and capable employee ever.

      However, after putting in years of sweat and tears and relationship building and education and heart into a job for the last five years only to be laid off with a thirty second phone call one morning (not because I sucked - but because after a half dozen layoffs, I could no longer escape the axe and a few thousand more of us said goodbye), I've come to realize that all of my hard work and loyalty was for nothing. Here I am five years later, starting all over again.

      People work hard and are dedicated and productive and happy when they know that progress and achievement can be theirs. But when they recognize that for all the toiling they put in, they could be axed due to budget constraints or politics (as opposed to personal ability) on a whim, they give up.

      Would you run a marathon if you knew the finish line was going to be randomly extended and that you would periodically be grabbed and yanked back to the starting line all over again? After awhile, wouldn't you realize that the race itself is pointless and give up?
    • That's the goal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday August 16, 2004 @04:15PM (#9984303)
      the goal of a just, modern society is workers who work less for more. The idea that we should all be furious worker bees is crap pushed on us by staggeringly greedy bastards who have been living like kings off other people's backs for as long as human society existed.
      • Re:That's the goal (Score:5, Interesting)

        by flacco (324089) on Monday August 16, 2004 @05:20PM (#9984960)
        the goal of a just, modern society is workers who work less for more. The idea that we should all be furious worker bees is crap pushed on us by staggeringly greedy bastards who have been living like kings off other people's backs for as long as human society existed.

        amen, brother.

        what's sad about it from my perspective (my hair grows grey and my knees aren't quite what they used to be) is that so many bright, energetic young people just don't recognize this fundamental truth.

        it's like reverse-idealism: in their optimistic prime, young people are more willing to spend their days, nights and weekends wading around in the shit their corporate masters pour on them, because they earnestly believe that *they* are special, and that *they* will be the ones who succeed, and they're therefore willing to accept a labor environment that's unjust and socially primitive overall.

        as time goes on, you realize how much of your life and soul you've devoted to making other people rich and comfortable, and you resent the means they've used to get you to do that... and even if you've accumulated some material wealth in the process, the balance sheet looks questionable.

        the current economic system has produced some miracles to be sure, and perhaps it may be the best that human beings can do - but don't fool yourself: an enormous price has been paid by a great many, while a relative few have paradise handed to them as a result.

        • Re:That's the goal (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity AT sbcglobal DOT net> on Monday August 16, 2004 @09:34PM (#9986884) Homepage Journal
          "what's sad about it from my perspective (my hair grows grey and my knees aren't quite what they used to be) is that so many bright, energetic young people just don't recognize this fundamental truth."

          Yup.

          I'm really lucky in that right now, I work for a company that is well managed.

          We got a great kid, wet behind the ears, fresh out of grad school. After a couple of months, he asked me if I had any advice.

          I told him he needed to take it easier.

          I learned this lesson at my last job. I kinda felt I was a lazy worker, so when I got the last job offer and they told me I'd need to work hard, I went with it. We all worked ridiculous hours, and the company failed.

          What I learned from that experience was that I got more done working a 40 hour week and enjoying my time outside of work than working 60+ hours and working weekends. I actually got more accomplished that way, because my head was clear.

          This new company recognizes that, too. We're all lucky that they do; not only are we happier, it increases our odds of success. And now that I've got a position of some leadership, I want to pass that wisdom along to my co-workers.

          It's one thing to work 60+ hours a week for a brief couple of weeks to meet a deadline -- it's something else to do it all the time. Eventually, the return on investment drops to below what you had before.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:15PM (#9982939)
    Can't be bothered to RTFA, I've got too much slashdotting to do here at work before lunch rolls around.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:16PM (#9982943) Homepage Journal

    Let the weenies that hate their work slack away. When the annual review comes up the people that take pride or work hard will move ahead. Then the weenies will bitch about not being liked, etc. ANYTHING but looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for their place on the ladder.
    • Beware the union shop (well, some of them), where it might be the status quo to slack off and delay work, and anything resembling industrious labor will get you ostracized
      • by GeckoX (259575) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:30PM (#9983126)
        Great point. (Not always the case as you have implied, but certainly true much of the time)

        Anyone ever had a job on a roadwork crew?
        What happened when you showed up on your first day and tried to actually work a full day without standing around with your thumb up your ass?

        I quit after 2 weeks of being shown that it is not actually acceptable to 'work' all day long. How people can show up to a job day in and day out and fuck the dog all day every day is beyond me. In my experience this leads to the LONGEST days imaginable. Working is a heck of a lot easier when you actually work. (You know those days where you don't even get a chance to think hardly, and they're typically over before you realize the day was even begun!)

        • In my experience this leads to the LONGEST days imaginable.

          looking on the bright side, at least it will give you the impression that you live a longer life, as opposed to life in the fast lane...
          • by GeckoX (259575) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:59PM (#9983487)
            Careful, I never suggested I'm living in the fast lane.

            I cherish my time above all else. I work to live and nothing more. I do not and never will live to work.

            I work an 8 hour day 5 days a week on average. I will not work overtime unless it is compensated with flex-time. My work days fly by and the _rest_ of my life gives me the impression of a longer life.

            It's up to us as individuals to make these choices and decisions though, and to stick to them. Our employers are not people, they are corporations and they will use us as much as we let them.

            Choose not to let them, you'll be a happier human being for it I assure you.
        • by hey! (33014) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:29PM (#9983795) Homepage Journal
          Hehe. This takes me back.

          Back when I was putting myself through school working as a electronic/mechinical tech in a research lab, I had a terrific work ethic.

          A lot of our time was wasted waiting around for some project mileston or some demonstration needed for a proposal. So, being industrious me, I made it my job to be useful every hour of every day. I checked the lab bays and made sure that all the appropriate safety equipment was in place and that there were first aid kits available and everyone knew where they were. I fabricated shelves and racks for things and made useful devices for moving heavy stuff around. I checked that all the equipment was inventoried and properly cleaned and maintained. I broke down useless old equipment for parts that we'd need, sorted and inventoried all the pieces. When there was nothing else I could think of, I swept the floor while the other guys sat around and drank coffee.

          So, when a really cool project came along, who did the bosses turn to?

          Right. Somebody else but me. I was already busy, the cool projects went to the guys who spent their time loafing. In fact, I'd trained everybody to think of me as their maid or their mom. I was useful as hell doing what I was already doing. Oh yes, and since the things that you do affect your job description, and the skill level of the things on your job description determine your compensation, guess who was in line for promotion and raises?

          There was an important lesson in this situation for me. I just wish I knew what it was. Other than that bosses (even ones with PhDs) are stupid.
    • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:30PM (#9983130)
      If you'd bother to read the (very short) article at all, you'd know that actually part of the reason she proposes slacking is in fact to get ahead!

      It's very dependant on the French business climate, but basically she says that since you have no chance to advance through good work (becaue the system is very rigid and based on tenure or diplomas), instead slack off in ways that few people notice - since the system makes it almost impossible (or very unlikley) to fire you, a boss will more likley move you up somewhere else than try to deal with you!

      Now for an American slant - could you please let us all know where you work where your review determines how much you move forward? I have had a great carreer but any movements up have been more about me forcing the issue than being moved up because of good reviews. And I've seen plenty of people move up the ladder without good reviews to back them. Reviews, and pandering to them, are possibly the most pointless waste of time ever invented by humanity.
      • by bobthemuse (574400) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:05PM (#9983552)
        It's very dependant on the French business climate

        No, it's dependent on not being able to fire people who are useless. If you ever work for a unionized public agency in the US, you will see this. Completely incompetent people with no drive whatsoever. Most of them are determined to put in the absolute minimum. Can't fire them, so they get promoted in the hopes that the new hire won't be so bad. Ever wonder why state universities are so top-heavy?
    • When the annual review comes up the people that take pride or work hard will move ahead.

      Please give me a one-way ticket to your ideal world.

      The chances that annual reviews will hand out awards in a way that correspondes to reality is basically nil. The problem, widely documented, is that most low to middle IT managers have no management skills. Corperations are failing to instill these skills when promoting good technical people.

      Its Catch 22, we need your technical skills so we promote you, but when we p

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:36PM (#9983208)
      Annual reviews are garbage. Half the time, they are glossed over because there is WORK TO BE DONE rather than filling out pissy little paperwork. The rest of the time, they often go by a "curve" which means if 100 employees all kick super ass, 20% will always get fucked, 20% will always be gods on paper and 60% will be mediocre... evne though they ALL kick as much ass.

      And companies don't so much care about your reviews. When it comes to layoff time, seniority plays more of a role than capability, productivity and work-ethic. That seems bizarre since a company that is having financial trouble should trim their belt by retaining only the few best people they can rather than ditching everyone based on number of years in the company, retaining some of the crappier, lazier, lesser qualified individuals simply because they've been at the company, skating by without notice, longer.

      Seriously, reviews aren't worth the paper they're written on.

      I put in 80 hour work weeks for seven years. I lived my work. I worked at work, then I went home and worked on work the rest of the night. Plus weekends. And holidays. That's assuming I didn't just live at work, which I did for weeks at a time. And all of my reviews were golden. But I didn't play the political game as much. Rather than kissing ass and talking big about myself, I kept my nose down and did the work that was being neglected by those who were spending their time ass kissing rather than working.

      I neglected my health and social life and now I'm in very poor health (living in an office and eating crap food so you can spend more time working is a bad thing in the long run) and I have no social network. All I did was work. Day, night, weekend, holiday. Sometimes I would go home at 10pm and drive back at 2am because I got bored or wanted to get more work done, even though the work day didn't start until 9am.

      Anyway, I was laid off a few months ago in favor of hiring a bunch of people in india. I noted that all of the people that were laid off had been there less tiem than those who were kept on the payroll, and many of those who were laid off were known company-wide to be far more talented and capable than those that stayed on.

      • by bluekanoodle (672900) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:20PM (#9983708)
        Here's where you missed it then. Most people who complain about how "I work harder then everybody else in my office, and I don't play the political game at work, i just do my job, and do it well and now I got shafted," don't get it.

        The fact is, that playing the social game is part of your job. Is it written in your job description? No. Do they teach a college course on it? probably not. Don't like it? Tough. It's a harsh world out there and nepotism, favoritism and who you know are just as important as what you know. Deal with it and move on, or drop out, grow some dreadlocks, and blame the man.

        • by phearlez (769961) on Monday August 16, 2004 @04:33PM (#9984494)
          Yeah, they're of the same breed as the men who whine they don't have any luck with women because they are "nice guys" and not "assholes." The reason they have no luck is that they're wimps who never stand up for what they want (which they mistake for what it is to be 'nice') and nobody - men or women - respects a doormat. They're great to wipe your feet on but you wouldn't take one to bed.

          But I think you misidentify it when you call it "playing the social game" though - this assumes it's necessarily frivilous rather than perfectly reasonable. Being agreeable to your cow orkers means they feel free to approach you for assitance. Putting the big boss's requests above other people's demonstrates a respect for the hierarchy (even if s/he doesn't respect the chain of command).

      • I feel for you. I've seen employees -- coworkers, superiors, people who report to me -- lose their focus in life. Corporations and management can easily run over their employees unless they say 'no'. What I've always found surprising is how little negative response 'no' ultimately solicits... I've never seen someone fired for saying 'no' to overtime, or 'no' to working on yet another project, or 'no' to a missed deliverable. At most it only hits your performance rating (in a severe case) which might effect
    • In my personal experience, working harder than the slackers just means that the boss will pile even more responsibility (read: work) on your shoulders, until you're about to break.

      Meanwhile, the slackers will just have to do a little more than just slack oof, just enough to get in a decent performance review.

      And worse, because the corporate ladder is actually a pyramid, your chances of climbing the ladder are actually not as good as they want you to believe. The competition for the next highest level job

    • by pubjames (468013) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:47PM (#9983962)
      When the annual review comes up the people that take pride or work hard will move ahead.

      My dad once gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me because it was so out of character of my dad to say it.

      He had worked dilligently and hard all his life for a good employer. He did so thinking that that was the way to get to the top - your achiements would be recognised.

      What he told me was, it isn't the people like him who get to the top. It's those that know how to "play the game":

      * take credit for work you haven't done. This espcially works if you have junior staff that want to get ahead - you can ride on top of them.
      * quickly dissociate yourself from projects that go wrong. Subtly point the finger of blame at others.
      * be a nice guy most of the time, but know when the moment is to stab your friends in the back.
      * get others (especially your subordinates) to do your job for you. They'll probably do it better anyway.
      * Make friends with people as high up the ladder as you can. Really suck up to them.
      * etc.

      My dad didn't want me to do any of these things, he just didn't want me to spend my working life under a false illusion.
  • by skrysakj (32108) * on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:16PM (#9982944) Homepage Journal
    This mostly pertains to France, which is similar to other European countries whereby employees stay at one job, for life, and very rarely get fired.

    I think US citizens should focus on different things, like getting 3 or 4 weeks of vacation per year, not just two.

    Also, some professions are not equal in the USA. Medical residents, for example, are under the same employee laws as everyone else, but routinely work 100 to 120 hours per week. Only *now* are they starting to get tired of it and fight back.
    Good for them, because that kind of thing is outrageous and needs to change.

    Instead of focusing on "Bonjour Paresse", people should focus on working to live, not living to work. [worktolive.info] Or, how to be a good employee [skrysak.com] and not slack off, bringing down the system.
    • This mostly pertains to France, which is similar to other European countries whereby employees stay at one job, for life, and very rarely get fired.

      That's one hell of a sweeping generalisation.

      Although this is more true of Europe than the USA, it is not true of all jobs (especially IT jobs), nor is it true of all countries.
  • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:16PM (#9982952) Journal
    Walley. (read: Dilbert.)
  • by rkrabath (742391) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:16PM (#9982955) Journal
    Are you aware of who you're posting to?

    All we are is lazy. This post is the proof!
  • The title is a pun (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot.jgc@org> on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:17PM (#9982969) Homepage Journal
    On the title of a very famous French book called Bonjour Tristesse [amazon.com] (Hello Sadness).

    John.
  • by grunt107 (739510) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:19PM (#9982990)
    And give businesses more excuses to outsource.

    If you are so worried about the dead-end/exiting nature of the lower/middle jobs, start kissing major butt to move into managment.

    Or maybe start your own business doing something you are interested in.

    And if you still think loafing is the way to go, please do not procreate.
    • by laigle (614390) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:36PM (#9983218)
      What good would that do? I'm still a competent engineer, no matter how much butt I kiss. That means I can't be promoted, or they'd have to find soemone else to fill my slot. It also means I'm ineligible for pay commensurate with my abilities, because management doesn't consider anyone a "real employee" unless they're involved in hyping stock.

      Trying for middling promotions is just polishing the brass on the Titanic. We're not going into economic collapse in the US because of slacking. We're collapsing because management is viciously incompetent, and Wall Street insists on keeping them that way.
      • We're collapsing because management is viciously incompetent

        Hallajulah, brother!

        Then, do what I'm doing.

        After 5 years of complaining about shit managers, I arrived at "I can do better than that", so I enrolled in an tech-oriented MBA program.

        Recommend it to anyone. You can't lead tech if you don't understand tech and leadership. We are engineers, we learn from manuals. An MBA has plenty of merit. Also has plenty of bullshit and a good dose of religion... but enough hard and real stuff to justify its exi

    • And if you still think loafing is the way to go, please do not procreate.

      She's on top!

  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@[ ]il.com ['ema' in gap]> on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:20PM (#9983002)
    "why not spread gangrene through the system from inside?"

    I'd have to imagine that that sounds much more attractive in the original French. Let's see what Babelfish says:

    "pourquoi gangrene non écarté par le système de l'intérieur ?"

    Yes, I was right. That sounds much more attractive. I'd like some, but without the butter.

  • by Mitleid (734193) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:24PM (#9983052)
    [the author] argues that France's ossified corporate cultural no longer offers rank-and-file employees the prospect of success, so, "why not spread gangrene through the system from inside?"

    Interesting concept. Of course, I'd have to read the book to get the full explanation of this philosophy, but I think corporatist/capitalist countries have in fact gotten to the point where the corporate culture isn't one where one can aspire to promote themselves, but moreso just make sure that they're going to have a job come tomorrow morning. Business administration seems to have gotten to the point where employees have become so anonmyous and replaceable that, for the most part, it seems no one is encouraged to maintain or even develop a sense of loyalty. Maybe her suggestion to eat out these corporations from the inside could prove to light a fire under their asses. On the other hand, as I think anyone can attest to being displayed in the past, it will most likely just instill the people in charge to take away more and more rights and benefits from the employees as a means to counter-act the half-assed work they're getting in return for paying out salaries. Ah well, the door swings both ways it would seem. I guess it'd just be safe enough to admit that we're all pretty much fucked.
  • by Performer Guy (69820) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:24PM (#9983058)
    Seems like a self fulfilling prophecy, but French socialists are the first to complain when the little guy actually gets a piece of the action from a company instead of the State.

    The fact is that in Europe tech employees don't benefit as much from options etc whether at startups or larger corporations. The typical reaction however is not to expect better rewards or demand a piece of the pie (with the corporate tax incentives that are required to encourage it) but to tax the hide off profitable corporations and wealthy individuals a.k.a. "fat cats". There are no angel investors in Europe and almost no engineer level guys who made it rich in the rank & file who are then able to comfortably start their own business.

    The typical small business starts out there with one or two guys, no cash (or a bank loan taken against your house) and maybe a grant from the EU or some development commission.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:24PM (#9983060)
    ...just for writing the book. I had read this BBC article a few weeks ago:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3935669.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • by Tailhook (98486) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:24PM (#9983061)
    ...as about half the French corporate workforce is on vacation right now. Probably not the best season to try to advise them.
  • Vive la SI!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Potor (658520) <farker1&gmail,com> on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:27PM (#9983090) Journal
    This is old hat. Guy Debord's Internationale Situationniste [nothingness.org] was daubing "ne travaillez jamais" on walls back when it was formenting the Paris student riots of 1969. And they meant it, man ...
  • Living in France... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmayle (200765) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:29PM (#9983115) Homepage Journal
    I know it's kind of cynical, but I live in France, and this isn't vry counter-culture at all. There's a continuous struggle between those who try to take advantage of the system from the bottom (the "lazy" ones), and those who are trying to take advantage from the top (what we usually term "evil corporations"). The French are working on equitable treatment all around, and for the most part they get it. (36 hour work weeks, I get 7 weeks of paid vacation a year, great social care/ health insurace, and no, the taxes are almost exactly what I paid in the United States. They're only very sharp once you get to the 150,000 and up range.) The downside is that there are many who take advantage of this to try and bilk the system. I'm glad to be here, because they do right by me, and I try to do right by them, but the worst of the lot are really making things terrible for the companies that are trying to do the right thing, and aren't "evil".
    • Nice try (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lorcha (464930) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:24PM (#9983751)
      the taxes are almost exactly what I paid in the United States.
      V-A-T
      • Re:Nice try (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dmayle (200765) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:51PM (#9984013) Homepage Journal

        The parent brings up VAT (or AVT as it is known in France) which stands for Value Added Tax. He's right to point it out, because many luxury goods cost much more in Europe than they do in the U.S. In France, the AVT is 19% (imagine having to pay 19% sales tax on DVD players, TVs, etc.). It's a very valid point, however the basic cost of living is much cheaper here than in the U.S. Fresh baked loaves of bread can be had for 20 cents. Bottles of wine for 2 or 3 dollars. Going out, you aren't expected to tip the bartender a dollar for every drink, and you won't pay 8-10 bucks for a single drink at the bar. Top shelf resteraunts are just as expensive, but the quality of food you get at your average resteraunt blows away what you're used to getting in the U.S. And, to top it all of, as a way of subsidizing resteraunts in France, most employees get these vouchers called 'Ticket Resteraunt' that cost $4.50 each and have a face value of $9.00, which is just perfect for lunch at a resteraunt. Most resteraunts have lunch 'menus' (think of it as a gourmet version of McDonald's #2) that typically consist of something equivalent to a steak, a glass of wine, and an after dinner coffee at this price range. (For an additional buck or two, they throw in dessert.)

        But, of course, for the geeks who want to know about the gadgets. I just bought a 120GB hard drive and it cost me 80 Euro. Blank DVDs are around 50-60 cents a piece (as opposed to the 25 cents thats starting to be common in the U.S.) SFF computers will run you about 320 Euro, and yes, these all include tax, and are all a little bit more than you pay in the U.S.

        Music is much more expensive (unless you shop iTunes Europe), and DVDs definitely run a little more expensive, though the bargain bins get to be as low as 3.00 each. All in all, I make less then I did in the U.S., but I live as comfortably, and I travel a lot more. (I've been to Spain, Ireland, and Italy already this year.)

        Well, that's France for you... A bit off topic, but maybe of interest to see what it's like to live over here...

  • by jkiryako (643156) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:31PM (#9983145)
    "...if you don't like your job, you don't quit, you just go in every day and do it really half ass, that's the American way." - Homer Simpson
  • by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:32PM (#9983151) Homepage
    If you just walk around with a bit of paper in your hand you look busy and can make sure you achieve nothing.

    Rus
  • The Stint (Score:5, Interesting)

    by havoc (22870) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:33PM (#9983173)
    There was a time when factories ran around the clock and would then close down for months on end until all their stock was sold. The workers had a great solution to this problem called "The Stint," an agreed upon rate of production that no worker would go over. To quote Joanne B. Ciulla:

    Employers were constantly trying to make employees work faster. Most workplaces had a stint, and those who failed to maintain it by doing too much or too little were ostracized. Workers who upheld the stint despite the curses of their boss earned reputations as "good men" and trustworthy masters of the trade. The worker restriction of output symbolized "unselfish brotherhood," personal dignity, and "cultivation of the mind." One reason why the stint was important is that workers wanted control over the amount of time that they worked. Businesses at this time often ran factories around the clock and then shut down for months at a time.

    Another interesting part of the workingman's moral code was having a "manly bearing" toward the boss. In the nineteenth century this popular expression was an honorific signifying dignity, respect, and egalitarianism. A person earned his honorific by refusing to work while the boss was watching. It is useful to reflect on the difference between only working when the boss is watching and not working when the boss is watching. They are both gestures of defiance, but one is about keeping one's job and the other is about keeping one's dignity. The first says, "I don't want to work, but I will, because you are watching." The second says, "I'll work because I want to, not because you are watchingThere was a time when factories ran around the clock and would then close down for months on end until all their stock was sold. The workers had a great solution to this problem called "The Stint," an agreed upon rate of production that no worker would go over. To quote Joanne B. Ciulla:

    Employers were constantly trying to make employees work faster. Most workplaces had a stint, and those who failed to maintain it by doing too much or too little were ostracized. Workers who upheld the stint despite the curses of their boss earned reputations as "good men" and trustworthy masters of the trade. The worker restriction of output symbolized "unselfish brotherhood," personal dignity, and "cultivation of the mind." One reason why the stint was important is that workers wanted control over the amount of time that they worked. Businesses at this time often ran factories around the clock and then shut down for months at a time.

    Another interesting part of the workingman's moral code was having a "manly bearing" toward the boss. In the nineteenth century this popular expression was an honorific signifying dignity, respect, and egalitarianism. A person earned his honorific by refusing to work while the boss was watching. It is useful to reflect on the difference between only working when the boss is watching and not working when the boss is watching. They are both gestures of defiance, but one is about keeping one's job and the other is about keeping one's dignity. The first says, "I don't want to work, but I will, because you are watching." The second says, "I'll work because I want to, not because you are watching."
  • No loafing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Burpmaster (598437) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:36PM (#9983217)

    Seriously, have these businesses considered a no loafing [homestarrunner.com] sign?

  • by Neo's Nemesis (679728) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:36PM (#9983220) Journal
    I am living in India's capital, New Delhi. And the condition of government departments here is stagnating. According to the official hours, you work from 10AM to 6PM. But the schedule goes something like this:

    10AM - Crowd bundles up at the office
    10:30 to 11:00AM - The staff arrives
    11:00 to 12:30PM - Work!
    12:30PM to 1:00PM - Closed for Lunch
    1:00 to 1:15PM - Getting-all-the-gas-out break
    Then it is followed by some work, lots of bribery, lots of chatter with friends while the common man waits for his turn and so on...

    On paper, its actually 40-45 hr weeks, but in reality its much less. And thats the situation in cities. In villages its worse than anything. No work for days, and that too only thru bribery. And OTOH, the private sector employee works his ass off till night to make himself and country proud (and also to pay off those heavy bribes). Sad and sic!

    Venality and slackness would kill Indian dreams.
  • by panurge (573432) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:40PM (#9983275)
    Scott Adams famously was an economist working for Bell on ISDN, who concluded it would flop because it was just made too difficult to understand. So he created Dilbert...which is all about dysfunctional corporate culture. I spent 10 years of my life being Dilbert before becoming a PHB, and Dilbert is still so true it sometimes hurts.

    So a Frenchwoman, an economic adviser to the electricity industry no less, does something similar and it's:

    • Jokes about the French (rather than useless management) on /.
    • A disciplinary hearing.
    My conclusion: We're all much the same. And my other conclusion: I hope she makes as much money as Scott Adams. It would go some way to show there is some kind of justice in the world.
  • by HorrorIsland (620928) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:44PM (#9983334)
    Who do I sue?

    Aw, forget it - too much work.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:45PM (#9983337)
    Could a translation find a Silicon Valley audience?

    Have you seen Office Space?

    Of the Bobs: Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately.
    Peter: I wouldn't say I've been 'missing' it Bob.

  • Fuck you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hard_Code (49548) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:51PM (#9983392)
    Slacking must be principled. If you have a pointless job and are going nowhere, ok, slack. On the other hand, if you have a white collar job that allows you to sit in a padded adjustible height chair and browse the internet, you are probably already better off than the vast majority of humanity. It means that some other chump has to pick up the slack because you decide to take out your ennui about the dismal nihilism of life in your workplace instead of confining such gestures to solitary binge drinking on weekends, like the rest of us schmoes do.

    And if you are going to slack, slack productively! Become an activist or a political grafitti artist or something so the rest of us slobs have something amusing to look out on through our windows.
    • Re:Fuck you (Score:3, Insightful)

      by idiot900 (166952) *
      On the other hand, if you have a white collar job that allows you to sit in a padded adjustible height chair and browse the internet, you are probably already better off than the vast majority of humanity.

      Just because someone else's life sucks worse than yours doesn't mean it's wrong to be unhappy with how things are in your own life, and want to change them for the better. If calculated slacking does that, then great.

      This "sit down, shut up, and be thankful for what you have" attitude has always bother
    • On the other hand, if you have a white collar job that allows you to sit in a padded adjustible height chair and browse the internet, you are probably already better off than the vast majority of humanity....And if you are going to slack, slack productively! Become an activist or a political grafitti artist or something so the rest of us slobs have something amusing to look out on through our windows.

      "Oh, yes, and sir, the VP of international business development is out spraypainting our walls with 'Terro
  • Rot (Score:5, Funny)

    by e.m.rainey (91553) <erik&rainey,name> on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:12PM (#9983639) Homepage
    So her point I guess is a mental strike. Instead of fixing the rotting system from the inside by working harder and going nowhere, accelerate the rotting by doing nothing. Either they will have to give up on their socio-political HR poilicies and start basing promotion, hiring and firing on applicable indicators like skill or die by their own hand.

    I'm suprised, France, that's very capitialistic of you. And here I thought you didn't swing that way.

  • by GreenCrackBaby (203293) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:46PM (#9983955) Homepage
    When the annual review comes up the people that take pride or work hard will move ahead.


    A few years ago my job (programming) started to suck very very much. I started to slack, and I pushed to boundaries a little more every day. Over the coarse of a year I dropped from an 8-hour work day to 5-6, and most of those hours were spent surfing.

    My manager called me into his office out of the blue, and I figured the time to answer had finally come. Instead, he gives me 1,000 stock options, a certification that said "Keep up the good work", and a 5% raise.

  • damn slackers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by austad (22163) on Monday August 16, 2004 @04:59PM (#9984764) Homepage
    I'm all for trying to look busy and impress the boss, but IMO there's too much slacking going on.

    I work my ass off, I'm trying to get somewhere and do a good job at what I do. When you are surrounded by lazy people who do just enough work not to get fired, it makes it hard to get my stuff done when I am relying on other people to finish their portion of it, and it also makes others pissed at you for making them look bad.

    The job I have now is fine, but a previous job was a nightmare. 60 hour workweeks could have been 30 if others had done the job they were paid to do. Not to mention, there are a ton of incompetent people out there that should not be in the positions that they are in.

    I'm definitely not a model employee, but I want to get my work done and have a life outside of work. I make an extra effort to learn things that are useful to my job, and I expect my co-workers to do the same. Being the bad guy because you have a deeper understanding of a particular product or concept sucks.

    One of my old roomie's books from college on business management said that you can't motivate employees with more money, but you can certainly demotivate them with not enough. Maybe that's the problem, I don't know. But, in any case, if I was in a position of power at a company, slackers would be scared. Slacking off not only hurts the company's bottom line (which most people could care less about), but more importantly, you are making more work for your co-workers, hurting morale, and possibly providing the company with ammo to get rid of your lazy ass.

    Personally, I find it harder to stare at a cubicle wall than to actually just do my work that needs to get done. I've been at quite a few different jobs, and now that I think about it, the jobs that were very strict on hours were the ones that I saw the most slacking. If it takes one 2 hours to finish their work for the day, they should have the freedom to go home, go to training, etc. If they are making you be there 8 hours, and you are done with all of your work, it really doesn't give one an incentive to get it done. I guess if you treat your employees like children, they will act like it.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

Working...