I used to work in social services with a man I will call Bill Mars. (Not his real name.) Bill Mars was out-of-this-world! when it came to avoiding work. What a master! I was junior to him, so I had to go along with his choices.
Part of our job was helping people with various problems—or at least point them in the right direction to solve their problems. If Bill Mars could not find a way to avoid contact with people, and he had many ways, then he had a favorite line he would use. His facial expression never changed while he was working. It was always long and dour. He kept the same facial expression whether people were emotional, or calm while explaining their problem. When they finished, he would say, “So? What do you want me to do about it?”
His question always confused people because they thought that we there to help them. We were, but not according to Bill Mars. We were there to avoid work.
How amazing the lengths Bill Mars would go to avoid doing any work! He used so much energy finding ways to get out of helping someone with a problem. He would have used far less energy simply doing the job.
The only time I saw Bill Mars working was when he made coffee for our boss. He would smile around our boss, too.
It has been years since I left that job, but Bill Mars came to mind recently watching how a librarian avoids doing anything. Her method is simple: she stares at her computer screen, or looks off somewhere in space where nothing is happening. In other words, she avoids eye contact. Even when she walks from the office to the Reference Desk, she looks in directions where nothing is going on. If she does not see it, then it isn’t there.
I do not know her name, but I call her Bill Mars. When you see Bill Mars at the Reference Desk, you know that she will only see her computer screen or some obscure place in the air. You also know that if she has to help you, then she will avoid getting up from her seat. She will make you wait when you walk up to the desk to ask her something. I presume she is hoping you will go away. Other librarians will get up from the desk and deal with a noisy person or some other problem that requires intervention. Not Bill Mars. She sits there staring somewhere safe pretending nothing is happening.
The screen went blank on a computer I was using. Other librarians get up to see whether they can solve the computer problem. Usually they do. Not Bill Mars. I reported the blank screen to her expecting her to get up and investigate. As usual, it was a long time before she looked up at me to find out why I was bothering her. I told her. She remained seated.
“Find another computer to use,” she said, “and you don’t have to worry about it” Then she returned to gazing at her computer screen.
Bill Mars would not get up from her chair if World War III happened in front of the Reference Desk. Wait a minute. Perhaps she would get up as long as she did not have to do anything.
Librarian Bill Mars does not look anything like the man I used to work with except for one thing—a fat ass. Both have a fat ass. I wonder why.