Slacking Tips for Work #8: Be Vigilant

Not this bad sadly…

Well look at that! It’s almost been two years since the last entry and that was when I working for an even shittier place than I was now. So I guess I’m moving up in the world…kind of? But at any rate, if I had the picture of myself that the company camera caught me in, I’d post it above.But given I didn’t think to take a picture, we’ll have to be more generic.

Mainly because that picture highlights the importance of vigilance when it comes to slacking. Whether you are sitting down, reading a book, on your phone or just goofing off with your co-workers. Whatever you’re doing or have decided to do next to make work go by quicker and less painfully you have to make sure you do so carefully.

It’s a paradox I’ve already discussed on this site before but slacking actually takes some effort to pull off. You can’t just be lazy about how you’re slacking. Sitting down while reading in front of a camera is bad slacking even if it’s a calculated risk. Even if, for example, you know they generally don’t check the cameras unless something major happened.

If you can’t tell, that’s how I got caught. It was a total fluke, a mistake, but I got caught anyways. The camera had me at some point a few days ago when the police needed to be called and I was reading or looking at my phone. This finally caught up to me yesterday when one of my managers talked to me about keeping myself busy.

Now, I’ll be fair to my manager. They didn’t lecture me too much and instead seemed to genuinely understand why I would read or want to slack off. He said that when he used to be a cashier he would get extremely bored and try to find something to do. But that I need to keep myself busy with tasks so the day can go by, not slack off.

Managers can almost be downright scared of slacking. They’ll assign to you all of this busy work (like stamping stickers for hours) just so they can either cover their asses and say they tried or just so you’ll be doing something. It may also be a psychological thing where the managers don’t want the customers to see their employees slacking off.

Customers may think (though this hardly ever happens in my experience) that the store is shoddily run or the management doesn’t pay attention to their employees. In which case managers want to prevent either of these perceptions or thoughts crossing the minds of customers by giving you busy work.

My mistake was in thinking I could rest my weary bones for even a second. At the time I was tired (lately I’ve just been fed up and looking elsewhere) and really wanted to sit down. I realized I could sit down at a chair behind the counter and also seemed away from the camera. I risked that I was far enough away that the camera wouldn’t catch it.

I was also risking it based on the belief that they’d never go back and check the cameras anyways. And almost no one ever checks the cameras while the shift is happening. Like I said before, footage is usually only checked if something major happens, e.g. the store was robbed, the police were called, money is missing, etc.

Unfortunately for me a co-worker and I was threatened that day as I’ve mentioned previously. Or…maybe we weren’t. as I also mentioned the customer was very vague and unclear about whether they were threatening us or if something bad was just happening to their EBT card (food stamps). I really don’t know and tended to give the benefit of the doubt.

In any event, that led to management playing back the footage and you can guess where my carelessness came back to bite me. To be fair, the camera is pretty shitty so they don’t have a clear picture of whether I was reading, on my phone or whatever else. But I kind of narrowed it down by telling them I usually don’t have my phone with me, so…

That said, they can’t tell (and I am not sure either) whether it was my book (currently Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and almost done, great read!) or I was on my phone. So they don’t necessarily know to check for anything such as a hidden book which last night I promptly used to my advantage and kept reading anyway as if nothing happened.

I told my co-worker that reading (and my phone sometimes) is what helps me stick with the job. It’s not that it’s inherently bad but customers make it a drag, my managers badgering me about how to talk to customers makes me feel anxious and worried. Even if they’ve almost never enforced it in any meaningful way, it still bothers me and gives me anxiety.

On top of that I haven’t been getting along with my favorite manager lately and I’m not exactly the most social person in the world to begin with. So this job just naturally burns me out at the end of the day even if it’s “only” 6 1/2 hours.

The basic takeaway from everything I’m saying is: Be vigilant. Don’t let your guard down or if you do, try to do it as little as possible. If you work in retail like I do, try not to have your back turned to customers while you are behind the counter and reading. Try to put your book or phone either in your pocket or (for books) the best place you can find them.

Recently I’ve had to put them under a counter that’s behind the counter just to make sure my books is never found like it has been recently (twice). It may make the book a bit dusty and get some cobwebs on it but hey, that’s the price you pay for trying to be a vigilant slacker, right?

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