Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Case for a 4 Day Work Week

The economic crisis has led many corporates and others, mostly the suited and booted with serious smirks as if they have the astute powers to handle such situations (well, they haven't!) variety to re-look at their strategies to stay afloat. The bigger ones have more cash in their bank accounts and make a lot of noise about it to belie employees' notions that their employer is soon going to seek refuge under the small print of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. Some of the bigger ones were not (probably still not) in a state of financial liquidity to boast such things, as the money which they made in earlier days at a rate which was faster than the gestation period (fastest) record shared by three marsupials viz. the American and rare water opossums and the east native cat of Australia, approximately 12-13 days (which technically speaking is not fast, but its the parallel which is being drawn which is to be noted) whizzled out of their fingers as they counted the moolah at a rate faster than you could say WIP, which incidentally in certain officialese means 'work in progress' and if your basic numeracy is on a holiday half away around the other side of world let me take this moment to bring it back by stating, the aforementioned scalar quantity is faster than the previously established gestation period of three varieties of marsupials.

Anyway the fact is a lot of people have had to readjust their strategies to 'align themselves with the marginal drop (works out to more than 30% which could also tend towards 100% in preliminary back of the envelope calculations) in demand' or 'explore cost cutting measures (read as, "Thanks we think you have had a fair bit of fun at our expense, now its our time to laugh, so sod off!") keeping the best interests of all parties at stake' (quite naturally the HR teams have the highest stakes), 'rationalise annual performance benefits' (commensurate to the common name of that member of the legume family, Arachis hypogaea) and other such efforts by the top brass to satiate the ever edacious essence of shareholders with wolfish tending to piggish appetites for profits and such.

Creativity has also had a fair bit of airplay. One such piece of what I would call tremendous surge of activity in the right side of the cerebral cortex was witnessed or rather is being witnessed till the end of the calendar year at my current employers. Why might this excite me despite loss of one day's pay per month? I get a day off for each day's pay per month foregone. There were complains at the start, a readjustment in monthly expenditure, a cut in dining out, lets go to the theatre but lets not have the bucket of popcorn and cokes, that shirt looks good-looks even better on the mannequin and so on and so forth. I on the other hand was relieved. Here's one more day in a week to do a lot more things I always wanted to do but couldn't plainly because I had only the weekends to do whatever I had in mind.

The term used to describe this phenomenon of a day off to all employees was furlough. According to the dictionary a furlough is:
a. A leave of absence or vacation, especially one granted to a member of the armed forces.
b. A usually temporary layoff from work.
c. A leave of absence from prison granted to a prisoner

I rather liked option c for being brutally frank. I first came across the term in a Beetle Bailey strip where Sarge had out of desperation and a malicious fondness cuts short Beetle's furlough. Beetle returns long faced and wrathful. Now that I was facing it, I would probably react in similar fashion. The furlough days were well distributed to time around a Friday or a Monday with a festival in the near vicinity. This ensured extended weekends and more so on the other hand, shorter work weeks. Weekend getaways took a whole new dimension with an extra day to laze about or explore them. So did socialising, especially if the nights turned out to be all nighters fueled by sufficient amounts of that third favourite beverage on Earth, whose patron saint is Gambrinus. These extra non-working/nonpayable 24 hours per month also brought in benefits such as time to -
a. philosophise
b. sleep
c. philosophise and then go to sleep
d. sleep, wake up and then philosphise
and permutations and combinations of whatever you like best to do in such situations. Anyway the point of all this meandering is to drive home the point- that work is good, it occupies you, it helps you earn a living, it brings the bacon to the table, the clothes you wear and the roof under which you sleep; but despite this it isn't as important as to let go and relax, chill, loll, bum around, wake up at 12AM and go back to sleep. (of course if you sleep at 6AM its perfectly fine to go back to sleep at 12PM) So all you lazy lads and lasses reading this post, that's my case (rather weak I must say, on re-reading it) for the four day work week.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Getting back on one's feet...

...not that I didn't use the bipeds. The last couple of months I have started to walk more than I would normally exercise my feet. I get off some three stops before my scheduled cab drop point and proceed home, with a what now seems regular pitstop at a bakery to meet a friend for some chai and exchange of ideas, news and general banter on subjects varying from the latest offering by James Cameron to a brand of bread called Manna. The original idea to walk the distance was a) to get off my ass (this is the only form of exercise I indulge in, apart from Garfield's favourite, deep breathing) and b) never mind the b(it never came out the way I thought it would, or maybe I thwarted it at a rather early stage).

Many might lunge at me questioning, at my age how am I justifiably claiming to gain exercise (read as loose a few inches of the waist) out of a walk. And a full 15 minute one at that. I gently riposte with a quick reminder of my days in those most hallowed of sweat pits-the gym. The one I frequented or less frequented for the one month's fees which I had deposited with them was called Athena, and how cruelly she must be turning in her mythical grave, a goddess of wisdom, peace, strategy and a whole lot of other things[women being better multi-taskers, so is the claim of management books] relegated to the basement of a slightly dilapidated building to roof grotesque machines which when pulled or pushed would make your body ache, all in the name of shaping your physique! Add to that discordant songs of this variety, it was surprising that I didn't get physical with the DJ, who incidentally was also the instructor, leaving me with options to a) quit and b) quit really fast. There ends my story of any kind of body sculpting.

I have been at the end of many a joke about my, what i call rectangular physique. The latest being when the colleagues in office feel that the AC has been cranked up and feel rather chill while I don't, because of the extra lining of fat that I have endowed myself with since I developed pinniped like capabilities of subcutaneous storage of lipidinous substances. I shrugged at their attempts to get me to do something about it. I am naturally big-boned, I cant attempt to come in natures way!

Sometime back a friend who visits one of the more upmarket sweat pit generating institutions referred me to a site, which I promptly surfed for, explored and erased from my memory, until now of course. That was to bring it to your attention! I might subjugate myself into following its instructions seriously, one day, maybe tomorrow. Maybe not...

But in the mean time, I shall continue to walk. Its more enjoyable and less of a strain on the muscles, not to mention of other benefits of observing the world at a leisurely pace or having ideas (mostly unproductive, nevertheless Ideas, its the thought that counts at such moments, of being grateful for a semi-functional grey cell container) popping up every other minute. More on that in a separate post, for now I need to deep breathe in a state of dormanZZZs.