The Working Dead

My former co-worker took personal calls on his cell phone while at work. His conversations always started the same way:

Co-worker: Sup?

Caller: Sup. What ya doin’?

Co-worker: Nothing. Working.

Both answers were accurate.

That’s because at this job, doing nothing was still considered “work” if you were on the clock. In other words, the main requirement for this job was simply being there.

For some people, such an arrangement would be paradise. For me, it was not. I was bored. I was depressed. I was an unhappy member of the Working Dead.

To me, the Working Dead are the class of people who waste their lives away one day at a time at jobs where they accomplish nothing. I was made aware of their existence in the summer of 1997.

I had just started my first job at the age of 14. The objective was for me to recognize the value of a hard day’s work as early as possible. The problem was that I didn’t witness much work — because this was government work.

The full-time workers received their daily assignments and then paired off with the part-time help. I was picked up by a guy everyone in the garage called “Webby.” Per his instruction, I grabbed some tools off of the wall, tossed them into the back of the truck, and climbed into the passenger seat. He finished his cigarette and then we were off.

I would say “and then we were off to complete our assignment,” but that’s not what happened. Webby drove past the patch of trees we were supposed to trim up, made some comment about how it was “an easy two days of work,” and continued driving until he found a good hiding spot. He parked the truck on a dead end street, adjusted his visor so the morning sun wouldn’t burn his face, then glanced in each of the mirrors. Content with our location, he turned off the engine. He turned to me and announced “Nap time.”

I sat in the truck while Webby slept against his window for an hour. When he woke up, he smiled at me and said “Break time.” We met the other men from the garage at 7-eleven — the designated meeting place for the 9:30 break. Most of them had a smoke and drank coffee. Webby devoured an 89-cent hot dog smothered in free chili and cheese. Once finished, he drove us back to the same dead end street for another nap. I rolled down my window when he began to fart in his sleep.

That was my first work experience — my first glimpse of the Working Dead. Little did I know that it was only a preview of things to come. For the rest of my adolescent life, I worked with (or for) people who pretended they were working instead of actually working.

I entered the computer industry at the age of 16. The organization stuck me where they probably stuck all their summer help: The back corner cubicle. You know, the one used for storage during the other nine months of the year.

The old guy in the cubicle next to me spent most days talking on the phone. He talked about his most recent fishing trip and where the fish were biting. He talked about how well or how poorly his stocks were doing. He talked about his upcoming vacation and how he couldn’t wait to retire.

The young guy in the other cubicle next to me spent my first day voicing complaints about my squeaky chair. He switched it for a different one the first chance he got. I think he spent every day after that looking at porn.

His behavior was not unique. My job involved fixing computer problems wherever they turned up, so I spent a lot of time walking around the facility. It was common for me to pass a series of cubicles and see something like: Solitaire. Solitaire. Solitaire. Porn. Solitaire. Solitaire. Solitaire. Porn.

At a computer consulting company two years later, I was surprised at how honest my co-worker was about ripping customers off. “Today you’re going to learn how to look like you’re working for two hours,” he explained. “We’re under contract that requires us to be here for ‘routine maintenance’ every month, but there’s really not much to do.”

I spent the two hours looking over his shoulder as he ran the Windows 98 Disk Defragmenter Utility (Show Details, Maximized) in the background on one workstation. He also had a MS-DOS window ready in the foreground. He typed “dir /s” and hit enter every time someone approached us.

To a non-savvy computer user, this ‘routine maintenance’ performance must have looked convincing. It certainly wasn’t worth the $100 an hour they were being charged, though.

Admittedly, these examples are a select few from personal experiences that span several years. I’m not suggesting that everyone who works is only acting like they work — and even those who do can’t do it all the time. This doesn’t change the fact that the first Corona I ever had was on the job: When the big boss cat was away on vacation, the worker mice shared a six pack.

My point is that I’ve met a lot of different people at different jobs, and most of them liked getting paid to do nothing. Many of them are honest (and proud) about their situation, saying things like:

“I get paid to watch television all day.” — “I get paid to stay in an air conditioned office all day.” — “I get paid to play solitaire all day.” — “I get paid to browse the Internet all day.” — “I get paid to babysit a phone all day.” — “I get paid to attend meetings all day.” — “I get paid to watch the clock all day.”

In other words, they like thinking “I get paid to do nothing all day.”

They’ve accepted it, they’re comfortable with it, and I’m willing to bet that they wouldn’t like it any other way. Personally, though, this “do the least amount of work possible” approach was something I didn’t enjoy.

I prefer to actually do things. Specifically, I enjoy creating things. I get so absorbed in the creative process that I become impervious to interruption and lose all sense of time. In other words, it’s my paradise.

The thing is, being a member of what I call “the Working Dead” is someone else’s paradise. Understand that “the Working Dead” is only a personal label, and not a concrete label. It’s how I feel about jobs that lack creativity. In my mind, it’s the opposite of paradise. It’s hell. In short, it’s no way to live.

So who do you think are “the Working Dead,” and are you among them?

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171 Responses to “The Working Dead”

#1 umar on 24, Oct, 2007 at 6:45 am

that’s the way it works pretty much all around the world. I wonder how it used to be before computers and internet was common. Anyway, out of 9 hour long workday, the actual work-related work that I do is 4 hours or less. That also depends on the workload. There have been days when I was working (means real work) non stop from 9 am to midnight (except for lunch break perhaps). So in short I am not scared of working. But on slow days I don’t mind doing other stuff.

#2 Gerhi Janse van Vuuren on 24, Oct, 2007 at 7:52 am


sad to say I’m dead at least half the time I’m at work. The boredom is excruciating.

I don’t believe people start of with the idea that they are going to play possum at work. I believe that most people start a job with every intention of doing a good job this time around. But then they lose their way, can’t seem the point anymore and eventually just park of.

For myself a big part of the problem is having to be in the office for set hours no matter what your workload, biorythm etc. Or as my work contract says, I have to be in attendance from 8 am to blah, blah, blah. Once your name is ticked of their is nothing else to motivate you.


#3 Jinno on 24, Oct, 2007 at 8:46 am

Aye, I would have to say that I am a member of the working dead. Not even really my choice half the time, the pizza business is just really dying out, and as a 17 year old, finding another job willing to pay me $7.25 an hour would be hard to do. Whenever I actually get to do my job I enjoy it, otherwise I bring my Zune into work and I listen to some comedy sketches. This, I also enjoy.

But I do agree with you, I like to create, I like to refer to things as my masterpiece. That’s why I enjoy my job, I like to see my pizzas looking beautiful as they come out, ready for the customer to enjoy.

It’s for this reason that I want to go into the video game industry. I’d be spending all of my time doing something that would end up creating a beautiful product that plays well, and go out the door for a customer to get their money’s worth.

#4 Bob on 24, Oct, 2007 at 9:22 am

I’m part of the working dead at a K12 school district. I never would have believed this before I started 5 years ago. One of the first things I did was enforce “executable protection” where the users couldn’t run programs unless I added them to a whitelist for each of them. A teacher came to me and complained that he comes in to school early and stays late so he can play solitaire. I explained that he could could take that time for himself at home and play before he comes to work or after he gets home, enjoying the time away from the classroom. He stormed off. To my surprise, I was approached by his Principal, asking that the games be added to his whitelist. After almost 6 months of fighting, I was informed by my superiors to add the games for the teachers. The day after I added it, I was walking down the hall in his school and noticed his class taking a test. Instead of proctoring it, guess where he was… that’s right! Playing solitaire.

The teachers in the computer labs fought to get games for the kids so they could play “in the last 5 minutes of class”. That ends up meaning “play the whole period, kids, happy and quiet kids are easier to manage than kids we actually have to teach.” Some kids try to surf porn, and when I catch them, they get punished. The teachers revolt. I try to use logic: If a kid reached under his/her desk and pulled out Mousetrap, set it up, and started playing in English class during the last 5 minutes, would that be acceptable? What would happen if the same student pulled out a porno magazine and started leafing through it. Why is it acceptable for us to allow this to happen in our classrooms?

Needless to say, the problem is beyond the reach for the individual. I’ve spent 5 years fighting this stuff every day, and I’m like Sisyphus, and ignorance is my boulder. I can’t change the people that can’t see the problem and, unfortunately, unless you’re a total screw up or a pederast, teachers are there for the duration.

Good topic, good post. Always look forward to your writing.

#5 Loren Steffy on 24, Oct, 2007 at 10:54 am

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#6 JP on 24, Oct, 2007 at 11:56 am

The dude complaining about your squeaky chair struck a chord with me. I work at a library where the staff has been “the working dead” for so long they don’t realize how petty their beloved gossip has become. They spend their workday complaining about how “Rachel from circ always waives the patrons’ fines” or how “Alex always gives girls free printouts.” It’s as if their daily lives are so boring that they need to voice their opinion about anything they dislike, no matter how trite.
I mean really, if a squeaky chair is your biggest concern when it comes to prioritizing your workday, then you must have one hell of a boring workday.

#7 LJ on 24, Oct, 2007 at 1:02 pm

I just had a live altering experience which made me realize I am part of the category, I’m stalling in The working Dead. I do not want to be here.

Most of us think we’re invincible, that we have all the time in the world to do what we want. Thats not true. not even remotely close. We don’t have tomorrow, we don’t even have the next 20 minutes. Do we want to die saying I did absolutely nothing for a living, or do we want to die and say, I was a part of something great.

I want to be a part of something great. If people are truly satisfied with doing nothing with their lives, then so be it. That is their happiness. That is their great.

I am proud of you.

#8 spike on 24, Oct, 2007 at 2:21 pm

The great secret of the Working Class is that it doesn’t like to work. The Managerial Class is the one that likes to work, and doesn’t understand why the Working Class doesn’t. From there, we get coercion, fear, etc..

The whole of Modern Life is based on a series of lies, the biggest one being that Work is somehow enobling and desirable. On the contrary, it is an evil neccessity to most of the Working Class. The Managerial Class, thinking itself superior, has willingly drunk the KoolAid.

Congratulations. Sounds like you’re destined for the Managerial Class.

#9 cecilia on 24, Oct, 2007 at 3:58 pm

(what i did/do) find a job where everyone else knows more than you and spend every spare second learning what they do. it makes the time go quicker, and… it’s fascinating.

#10 Vai on 24, Oct, 2007 at 4:12 pm

I’ve resorted to digitizing my pre-med books so that I can look at them on my computer. That means I rip off the spine then break them apart page by page, scan them and save them on my computer at work. That way I can at least study while I’m at work. But yes I do work with the “Working Dead.”

I too listen to people who complain about their work day. They also complain about their problems at home and then they stay late at work! Whoever finds the drug that allows people to recognize when they need to change for the better will be a millionaire.

#11 bk on 24, Oct, 2007 at 6:30 pm

I’m a member of the Working Dead.
But I’ve found its the perfect way to work on stuff you want to do.
Let them pay me to do homework if they are so inclined. . .

#12 Big City Hippie » Links on 24, Oct, 2007 at 8:28 pm

[…] Working Dead are the class of people who waste their lives away one day at a time at jobs where they accomplish […]

#13 david on 24, Oct, 2007 at 10:11 pm

It’s more or less impossible to get fired from the place I work, and so you can imagine that doesn’t lead to many really productive days. I’ve recently discovered that this unfulfilling boring job was making me depressed and irritable at home. I’ve found that the time I used to spend surfing and stumbling at work is a great way to learn new skills. I’ve got plenty of time to learn new skills so i can get into a job that’s not full of working dead.

great post, thanks!

#14 Business Finance top DIGG news » The Working Dead : People Who Waste Their Lives Away - One Day at a Time on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:15 am

[…] read more | digg story […]

#15 anonymous on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:25 am

Wow, what an excellent article. People around me at my work did that so much I quit my job and totally lost faith in all corporations.

Bravo I say.

#16 ald on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:36 am

I find this disappointing and very true. We, as a workforce, have all this wasted time and energy that is not being used effectively. The idea of shorter workdays could help remedy this problem as people would have to spend more time doing their job because there would be less time to do it. I have worked in these environments and it’s depressing to see this after only being in the workforce for a few years. I would like to find a company that would have things for me to do that would aptly challenge me instead of wasting my time. I think that this is a big reason for the Working Dead. People are not being challenged or being used to their potential. When I find myself slacking off it seems to be because I am not being challenged by my work, not because I want to be lazy.

#17 Eric on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:49 am

While my job may not be creative, mentally demanding, or even that important in the grand scheme of things, I am busy more or less the entire time I am at work. I repair televisions / dvd players / VCRs and what not in a warehouse for a japanese manufacturer. A lot of you probably have our products in your house right now (i.e. magnavox, symphonic, ilo, emerson, etc) Jobs I have had where all I do is sit on the internet, or “look busy” suck. The 4 hour shift seemed longer than my current 8 hour shift.

find a job that has an infinite amount of workload, and one that keeps you accountable (I’m told what my production numbers are everyday. Infact it’s almost a contest among us employees to see who can get the most units, the most repaired units, etc etc) and you won’t be a member of the working dead!

#18 redinsanemetroid on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:58 am

I’m happy to say that I am NOT part of the working dead.

But I must admit that for a while, I was trying to be in the working dead, trying to get a cushy job, learning how to pretend to work and get paid for it. It was fun for a while mastering the techniques and skillsets of the working dead. I even had discussions with various expert co-workers on different methods of achieving the grand master level. (ie., knowing when the boss takes breaks so you can too, leaving certain spreadsheets on the screen to look professional, get your fingers used to ninja alt+tabbing to hide your browser, nodding off at an angle so that your head never lops to the side or fall, timing your vacations to hit right on the busiest times of the year, etc. etc.)

However, I soon realized that the working dead wasn’t for me (nor do I think it’s appropriate for anyone else for that matter, except maybe for a select few) The main reason being is TIME. It’s our most precious commodity on this world. Sure, you’re getting paid to do nothing but think about it, you’re losing something even more valuable, and that’s your time. You’re just sitting there doing nothing, just wasting time away. If you’re young, you are then wasting your youth (which, trusts me, once it’s gone, it’s gone.) If you’re old, you’re losing valuable time in which you could’ve spent with family, friends, travelling, etc. Sadly enough, it took me a while to actually discover this and I wished I had realized sooner. But it’s never too late so I encourage everyone in the working dead to get out of it. Life can be a lot more fun!

#19 rltw on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:00 am

Do what I did. Dump your 90k tech job, get in shape, join the army, try out for rangers or special forces, get accepted, and never, ever, ever feel like you are not getting something accomplished every single day you serve. You will have the opposite problem, in fact. Times a hundred. And you will love it.

Then when your body gets too banged up to continue get out and go be a fireman or find some other way to serve the community.

#20 AD on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:22 am

This is the most common reason for a person to get bored from his job. My workplace requires me work for 9 hours, but there literally isn’t that much work. But we have to stay at workplace. That make life pretty boring.

I think primary reason for this phenomenon is that since your boss(or your company) is paying you, so they want to get maximum out of you in return. So they emphasize on long working hours. What they usually fail to realize is that straight long working hours are always stressful and boring even for the hard-working ones. I strongly feel that lesser working hours (5-6) can actaully mean happy and energetic employees and hence more productivity.

#21 Alex Toronto on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:26 am

When my dad started working here after immigrating he would go to the businesses and repair the machines in an instant.
In a short while the president of the company at his location(This was a huge US multinational company ) told him to stop fixing peoples machines in such a rapid fashion-the head office couldn’t bill the customers at what the other servicemen were billing them. So from then on he had to pretend to take more time to fix things. Nevertheless, the customers always asked for him to service their machines. Eventually, after several years and when the branch office was closed, he started on his own but only charged people a moderate fee.

In my experience, I too have heard all my co-workers who were in a really high paying job, criticize their jobs for boredom or for being in the business they were in. Some said they would leave if they were fired and got a package or they were were recruited by the competitors for more money. In the off moment of the day though people would be on the internet, reading magazines, gossiping across the desk or meeting their clients on slow days. Mostly though, when it wasn’t busy most people could say they got paid for internet, porn, solitaire, etc.

I also read all the city’s papers
every day and I also copied stuff to disks when the internet wasn’t up at work to read up on. However, you eventually get so bored of this that you can’t take it any more and you have to take drastic action.

#22 JF on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:31 am

Heard 90% of workers are unhappy with their job. Probably because 90% of all jobs sucks.

#23 John Koetsier on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:33 am

Great post. The simple fact is, no matter how much people protest to the contrary, the great majority of people cannot be happy and fulfilled while their creative and intellectual capacities are completely and utterly unused.

People who do this are cheating themselves out of an opportunity to matter.

#24 karlfest on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:48 am

god, what kind of companies have you been working for?

#25 Luke on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:10 am

I am a member of the Working Dead, and it frustrates the hell out of me. Most days I operate at about 5% of capacity – I mess around on the net, I do personal projects and I just generally run down the clock.

Why do I only work at a fraction of what I could be? Because any effort I make to try and actually stir the pot and get myself the resources and support I need to do something meaningful seems to result in my manager, and his manager, making an equal effort to stop me from doing so – tripping me up with internal red tape and other intangible but undeniable barriers.

Example? I started working on a project to try and centralise all of our technical documents into one, searchable, place. I did a pile of work in my own time, I got put on a “project” for 3 months to work on it within the office. After the 3 months of development, internal marketing, networking, etc. I ended up with nothing because the company wouldn’t provide me with a server. So for about $60-100K worth of work on my part (at freelance rates), for which I was paid about $20K (my normal wage), they refused to spring for a $15K server.

I’d love to be more productive, and to get out of this rut I am currently in, but the depression of my current job means I have fears about being able to get another job (or running into the same problems if I do). So, playing the long game, I am waiting out the remaining 14 months until my 10 years come up, saving money to go to Europe and reinvent myself, hopefully with a new direction in life.

#26 mark m on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:11 am

I work the night shift in a network operations center usualy alone from 8pm to 8am…basically I watch graphs and cameras watching the data centers…
the only difference between the john loch typing the numbers every 108 minutes in lost and me is that i press my button every 60 minutes so my boss and the security firm know i am awake/alive!!!
apart from that there is NOTHING else to do

#27 Phil on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:16 am

This is a point that I think all web workers are aware of. My personal thought is, well, if these companies want to keep hiring people like this, then let them. They will die off, and companies who hire real workers will take over.

The future won’t be televised or broadcast in any other way. The future is people figuring out what works and makingit work better.

#28 G man on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:21 am

There are to many people in the world with creative ideas that get unused, and thats the way of it. There are not enough creative jobs/productive jobs out there to facilitate everyone. The boring job is here to stay. We are all ants, we are all part of the infinite monkeys making the cooperate machine run. If you think otherwise, you are delusional and entranced as the ‘Working Dead’ are. Unfortunately, I have a saying. “Man’s gotta eat”. There are alot of people out there who are worse off, uneducated, unknowing, helpless who wish they had a job, period. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. In case you are wondering, my mental capacity for doing nothing is extremely limited and I only last a month or two at Working Dead type jobs. It irritates me to no end to listen to people complain and bitch about useless things. So I am NOT a part of the working dead and never will be. We all have choices to make, let cooperate America devour us or not. Just watch the movie Fight Club. We are meant as humans to be part of the Working Dead….

#29 Andy on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:26 am

My last job was full of the working dead. I was a janitor for a large hard-drive making company. Our shift was 10 hours, but our duties took, all in all, about 6 hours. The rest of the time was spent wandering the large facility, talking to other janitors, or hiding in any unused area. I remember hours spent sitting in a chair, looking out at the cars passing by. I made a little over $9 an hour. The weekends were even more unproductive, as nearly all of the office workers left and the assembly line people kept working. I got bored, tired, and downright lazy at work and at home.

I recently switched jobs to a mainenance (janitor) position at a fast food chain. It’s 8 hours, and I make over $10 an hour. I work with one other guy, and we work all 8 hours, with maybe a 15 minute break in there somewhere. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve had so far, and much more stimulating talking to someone near my own age and about things outside of work. And as a side note, we work the entire time to get our work done well, not because we are forced to not take breaks.

#30 G man on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:38 am

I meant, we are NOT meant to be part of the Working Dead!!!

#31 Curtis on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:50 am

I am among the working Dead for sure as I am a security guard and I hate it. Me and a fellow co-drifter talk about some business plans and such…lets hope it becomes more than just talk as here as very little to offer me.

#32 Cobwebs on 25, Oct, 2007 at 5:12 am

People like to do stuff, they like to make a difference. They like to create, they want to help others.

The working dead mentality arises when people are prevented from doing that. A working dead mentality arises when people work hard to create something and their manager decides to scrap it.

People turn into working dead when they are prevented from making their own decisions. When they are prevented from taking responsibility.

It is like having 10 people blabbering about some problem you know how to solve, but they think its more fun to talk than take a few seconds to listen to the solution.

As they blabber, you doze off, you “let them have it their way”, whatever…. and you become a working dead.

Then you start a company of your own.

#33 LD on 25, Oct, 2007 at 5:20 am

All government work is not about doing nothing all day, I drive a automated garbage route for the city I work for. residential sanitation is on the task system (essentially 10 hrs a day 4 days a week or until the task is completed) believe me, everyone is highly motivated to get done, no desire for lunch breaks or anything else. plus, driving a n automated truck is kinda’ fun, like playing a real video game! heck! the truck even has a joystick!

#34 Robert on 25, Oct, 2007 at 5:44 am

I have some working dead at my store. It piss’s me off. They come around bugging me while am working, telling me am working to hard, Telling me to pick up there slack AND THE FUCKING WINNER is when they tell me to do my job and that i could do more? OH AND MIGHT I MENTION GOLDEN FUCKING TICKET IS WHEN THEY PUT ME DOWN IN FRONT OF CUSTOMERS! WTF! Makes me want to punch babies when they do that! I guess they are to busy smoking, drinking, suffering the internet, ignoring customers, acting like they are busy when the phone rings, or just doing nothing. i enjoy my job. the hours are great, i get to listen to my music while i work and am doing what i like to do.

P.S. sorry for the rant but i hate lazy people.

#35 Tristan on 25, Oct, 2007 at 5:45 am

I try to not work at all. As long as I can afford to eat and pay my phone bill, I stay home as much as I can.

#36 jennifer on 25, Oct, 2007 at 6:02 am

This is exactly why I work for commission.

#37 Robin on 25, Oct, 2007 at 6:19 am

Holy shit. I get it now. This is why The Office is so popular!

I used to manage 12 different online stores, managed freelancers, and together we created the products pages and uploaded them. Every frickin month. Just one of the stores had 10k products. I quit that job because I wasn’t getting paid enough — a measly $48k. And I sometimes skipped lunch. I got shit done.

It doesn’t pay to be a good worker.

#38 Patrick on 25, Oct, 2007 at 6:34 am

Nice topic. I hope you’ll still feel this way in 10 years time. It’s so easy to slip into being a working dead. In the first nine years of my carreer I worked my ass off before realizing I actually didn’t have a carreer. Now, I can’t be bothered too much, and to the benefit of my performance reviews. I am now using my working dead hours to work on a start-up business plan – I really hope I’ll succeed in securing funds. If not, I’ll be a zombie by next year…Greetz – keep up the good spirit.

#39 Jeremy Duffy on 25, Oct, 2007 at 6:44 am

Good lord, your comment font is really hard to read.

“Every day when you get up in the morning, are you going somewhere you want to go?”

If you can’t answer yes to that question, you need a change.

I think that if you’re going to work for someone else, it should be a job that fulfills your personal goals and life mission on some level.

Basically, I agree with you.

#40 paul on 25, Oct, 2007 at 7:07 am

ya im also a member.

i get paid to answer the phone and help with simple pc problems but most of the day i sit on digg or read news or whatever else i feel like reading.

ive said before that i get paid to sit and be restricted on the pc. and somtimes i have to answer the phone and fix a outlook problem or somthing

relativly its boring. but im grateful for my job and can actually enjoy it for what it is.

it pays the bills, i work with ok people and we all have a laugh.

good article!

somthing that crossed my mind only this week.

#41 Patrick ALlmond on 25, Oct, 2007 at 7:32 am

Very well expressed. Like you I’ve known people like this also. But whenever I’ve ended up in a position like this I actually quit and move on. The fact that I own my own business came from the fact that the last company I worked for got to boring. No more effort. No more challenge. It was then time to move on.

#42 Edward McCain on 25, Oct, 2007 at 7:51 am

I *wish* I had such luxury. My work is hourly with production points tacked on – and they always over schedule work. I usually receive 10-12 hours of service calls, not including the drive time or lunch break. My days are bust-ass from 8am until 8pm and sometimes I *still* don’t finish all my service jobs for that day.

#43 Juggling Frogs on 25, Oct, 2007 at 8:00 am

I’m fortunate because (with the exception of one mind-numbing stint as a bank teller before college) I’ve been in interesting and hungry environments (start-ups, academic, research, my dad’s business, software design) where there was no room for the Working Dead.

Since then, I’ve been home with my kids for fifteen years. Sleep-deprived newborn months could be described as the Working Dead, but not for lack of what to do! After that, any time theft would be stealing from myself. (No trouble keeping busy with five kids.)

However, I appreciate your respectful tone when describing the Working Dead Fans (DeadHeads?)as those with a different “work preference”, rather than condemning them across the board.

There are people who can make productive use of the absence of productivity. I’m not one of them, but I know they exist.

The difference between your flatulent truck mate and Albert Einstein working in the Swiss Patent Office is that the former was dishonest about it. Einstein did what he was paid to do.

#44 Tom on 25, Oct, 2007 at 8:02 am

Finding a niche where you can feel great about what you do is easier said than done. Too many times we are inadvertantly or purposefully moved into a position of the inability to think, create or “be a part of”. This, naturally, moves us into a mental position of apapathy. Since we are getting a salary and benefits which allow us a compfortable home life, support of our families, we realize that “most men live their lives in quiet desperation”. It takes a lot of courage to take the risks when it comes to career moves. This is especially true for those who have families and large responsibilities. There are only a few that make the salaries that allow for major movement and risk taking. The rest of the working class drones continue to help enrich “the man”. Certainly, not all of us can be “the man”, so, we continue staring at the screen and dreaming like Walter Mitty. Don’t fool yourself, most of those who are playing solitaire want to be creative and productive, they just have not found the key to the door and no one is going to give them a clue as to where is is located. Besides, in most situations these days, the most productive are not rewarded any more than those who are napping under the shade tree. So it is definitely a personal choice. Certainly the unproductive, uncreative, bored-out-of-their mind types are usually the candidates for anti-depressants. And so it goes…

#45 sportsdork36 on 25, Oct, 2007 at 8:32 am

This article really hit home. I feel the same way day in and day out at my job. Working in the computer business I like how we get labeled that we dont do anything all day but talk on the ph and play on the computer. I take my job serious cause I love what I
do I want to make sure that I help the person out in any way. Sometimes I get looked down on for going the extra mile. But in the end I feel it is about the end user.

I really enjoyed the site. Can I add your link to my page?

#46 unclesamspuppet on 25, Oct, 2007 at 8:48 am

if the american public knew how much BS thier tax dollars were spent on they would rise up and proclaim a civil war against the government. why? yesterday bush signed the declaration (for the wild fire victims) that allowed the “funds be opened up for helping that disaster area”. ok- now on the average “we” are adding to the deficit (because of the war) 1.* Billion per DAY to the deficit. i can’tell you how many times in the last 5+ years (the war is in it’s 6th year) that i witnessed millions of dollars spent for BS programs that are politcally motivated. if i were in iraq with car bombs and bullets flying over my head i’d be severly PISSED. did you know that in the last 12 months there have been times where they had run out of ammunition? if you think the walter-reed scandal is something you should see what the other services are guilty of…why aren’t the citizens angry? apathy.

#47 unclesamspuppet on 25, Oct, 2007 at 8:50 am

oh yeah, i’m guilty of being working dead as well

#48 Brian on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:32 am

I guess it really depends on what your job is. Some days are very boring for me, but other days, there are not enough hours in the day for me to finish what I need to do. Because of this, I don’t feel guilty during my “down” hours. Being an operations engineer, my job is to make sure that everything runs without my involvement. If I was spending all my time fixing things, I wouldn’t be very good at my job, would I? My job is actually to make my job easier.

It’s not realistic to judge someone by taking a snapshot of a given moment on any given day. There are many times it may appear that I am part of your “working dead”.

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#50 Ron on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:36 am

I know exactly what you’re saying…I work in a Call Center, so, I’m actually working about 1 1/2 to 2 hours every day (out of a possible 8)…the funny thing is: some people believe that they would love to have this kind of job, and, maybe they would…what I miss is a challenge.

#51 Patrick on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:20 am

While it is not realistic for everyone to have their own business where you have employees, an established legal entity, etc. Anyone can still have an attitude where they have taken control of their situation. A few years ago life dealt a hand and going into business for myself was the best thing to do. A big part of my work is web design and I have a lot of competitors in the Greenville,SC market but my mind is constantly challenged, I’m less depressed and in some ways I feel more secure because I am not tied down to one employer. With a multitude of clients my “income portfolio” is diversified. Even if one is working for someone else they can still have the attitude of “contractor”. I know if I ever have to go back and work for one major employer I will still retain an attitude of innovation and service.

#52 Buzzy on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:21 am

I’m being partcularly dead right now on the job, and I feel rather guilty for it. The truth is that when I fist came here the place was so far behind… and now since they had an extra hand to deal with the backlog of work it’s gone. I would much rather be doing something productive, but I’m not supposed to be trained to do anything else (would take away from other folks jobs who actually get something to do). So instead of blitzing through +50 email replies a day I’m doing something in the ballpark of 2-5.

I take comfort in knowing that this job and my other one are only temporary until I have enough cash and get into university.

#53 Ryan on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:25 am

I’d have to say I have been a major part of the working dead for the last few months. I started this job with every intention of working my butt off. Now I do everything I can to work as little as possible. This isn’t what I want. Thanks for waking me up with this post. I hope I can get myself back on track.

#54 MR on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:28 am

I cry at work sometimes because there is nothing to do …I would love a better job but I don’t have the “experience” for now I am the working dead and I hate it, sometimes I eat paste and toxic things at work to help the day go by faster …

#55 Jason on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:38 am

you just inspired me to do something with my free time at work.

thank you.

#56 noizelarva on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:56 am

its the sad truth about alot of jobs. At the cd factory i worked at over the summer i spent maybe 3 hours out of a 12 hour shift doing any real work. The rest of the time i just took smoke/snack breaks and went to the parking lot to get high. It was damn easy work but i’d have to say i’m right there with you about how it is hell for anyone who has any sense of creativity. After 3 months there i could sense a marked difference in my own aspirations and thought processes. everything had become dumbed down in my head. But hey then i quit and haven’t had a job since! Free your mind and Screw the bourgeoisie!

#57 blinko on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:04 am

“In short, it’s no way to live.”

For you. Your judgement is your own. Your life is your own.

Your opinion is worth as much as anyones.

#58 » Blog Archive » The Working Dead on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:10 am

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#59 William Manning on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:13 am

I am happy to say that I am not part of the “Working Dead”, I know a lot of people that are and they think I am crazy. I have always worked in start-ups for that reason. I want to work with a bunch of people who are there for the same reasons. I am usually the first person in the morning and one of the last to leave. I still have a life and family, I have just learned the delicate balance to make sure I can have both. I am not one to sit idle, I need to work and have always worked. I know plenty of people who do “nothing” and get paid well for it but I never wanted to be those people. I life feeling like I have earned my keep.

#60 Matt on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:17 am

I’m at work now…. I am in the same situation as you… Except we don’t have solitare installed 🙁

#61 josh on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:18 am

Ironically enough I’m reading this article at “work”.

#62 Heywood on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:21 am

this guy sounds like a douche nozel to me. If you didn’t work at these jobs and wanted to, why didn’t he just leave and find something else to do. Nah he just sat there and did nothing about, now 10 years later he’s pissing and moaning about it. Which is worse a person who doesn’t work or a whiner???? HUM

#63 Heywood on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:23 am

LOL I missed the part about him wanting to be a writer. If there are any people on the face of the earth that do less than a writer. WOw talk about a hypocrite.

#64 Alfred Boosh on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:24 am

Dude, you’re what, 24? I, too, was like you at your age. After a few years of wisdom under my belt I’ve come to realize that some jobs, if not most, do end up being dead-end jobs–You end up there and die(or become a zombie as you so aptly put it). Such is our lot in life. I’ve also come to realize that work is just that–a means to bring home the money so I can enjoy other things–things more precious to me like spending time with my family, friends, relatives, living and enjoying life. Work for me is not life. I work to live, not live to work.

I hate to admit that Europeans have been more civilized than us Americans. Their work schedule is replete with days off for religious or national holidays. That’s how it should be–reward the country’s workforce with time off to pursue leisure time. What good is all this technology if you can’t enjoy it.

Yes, there are times when I do look forward to going to work but now that I have a new son I can’t wait to get home and spend time with him so my time at work is just a ticking clock as I count down the minutes to being with my family.

You’re going to have to ask yourself one of these days why you even work–the ultimate reason. For some people, creative ones such as yourself, need an outlet for your creativity so what YOU want to do may not be considered work. Others, in the research fields, are on a quest to find that cure. More power to you.

You’re young, vocal and opinionated. That’s fine but you’ll look back on this article in a dozen years and experience an epiphany. Your present state of mind and, your present position and level of life experiences won’t allow you to understand it so there’s no sense in trying to explain it. You’ll just have to wait and see.

#65 K.Muncie on 25, Oct, 2007 at 11:35 am

How true! I used to be part of this group. My excuse was that I was so good at what I did that I could finish it in half the time people would think it would take so I would take my time and browse the internet all day.

I eventually got sick of it, because like you said its a living hell. It was a good stable job but my health was suffering from it. It feels good to do physical work! Excellent article about this phenomenon.

#66 CR on 25, Oct, 2007 at 12:34 pm

I could easily feel like a member of the working dead, except for one key fact: I use that down time at work (time when no one is calling, or the workload is low) to do the things that I care about. In my case, this is designing the furniture I build in my free time, or researching other out of office projects. Granted, it’s not exactly ‘work’ but it’s productive in terms of my personal life.

I work late many days (on the real work that I get paid to do), but also have one of those “Be in from x to Y” kind of work schedules. It’s not perfect, but at least I feel like I’ve expanded my amount of personal free time without compromising my productivity at work.

#67 Jeff on 25, Oct, 2007 at 12:37 pm

I worked at a major computer corporation for 12 years. I was a technical team leader. I had a person on my team who didn’t know what he was doing despite having worked on our products for three years. I either had to do his work or spend grueling sessions trying to teach him basic computer skills despite that he claimed to have a BS in computer science. Towards the end of my time there, this guy would just talk on the phone to his friend all day long. I couldn’t tell what he was saying because it was in his native language, but I knew that there wasn’t anyone else on our project that required him to talk that long on the phone and in that language. I even caught him lying about work he claimed to have done. After I kept logs about his “work” and submitted them to our personnel manager, the manager promoted him and gave me a mediocre performance review. I finally gave up and quit the company. It seems some companies not only look the other way when people are “The Working Dead”, but they reward this kind of behavior.

#68 sinr on 25, Oct, 2007 at 12:39 pm

I worked for 3 and a half years at a Motel 6… around 2 of those full-time graveyard shift. my routine when i got in was clock in around 10 (usually a few minutes early), make sure stuff was balanced, set up my laptop and play World of Warcraft until roughly 5am, at which time id do paperwork, then go back to WoW until next shift came in around 6ish.

got fired from there cause of customer complaints, now i work at a Wal-mart overnight stocking shelves, and i think i love this job… sitting behind a desk all night playing WoW and getting payed for it is great… but theres no sense of accomplishment at the end of the day except “i got my paperwork done, everything’s balanced. yay.” now i can say “My work here for the night is done, i did a damned good job all things considered”

#69 Emma on 25, Oct, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I never understood the point of working somewhere that made you dread your alarm every morning.
I got my first job when I was 13 — I worked in a children’s park, putting on free plays four times a day. It was probably the best job I’ve ever had — my co-workers were my friends and we spent time together off of the clock. Plus, what’s better than getting paid to sing and dance in front of a theater full of enthralled six year olds?
My next job happened when I was 16, and I was hired to work in a chocolate and candy factory. Seriously, tell me that isn’t everyone’s dream-job. Despite the occasionally mundane tasks of wrapping truffles, packaging caramel popcorn and stamping insignias into chocolate coins (yes, folks, all of those coins are individually stamped..painstakingly), I still got to enjoy the benefits of a botched batch of chocolate-raspberry truffles and fudge that ‘blossomed’. I loved going to work. The customers were always happy to be there, too.
My last job was working in a bagel factory, which was also quite enjoyable (but not as great as the candy factory).
I’m now an art student in my first year of college, so granted I’m probably terribly naive and jaded towards the ‘real world’, but I still can’t imagine settling for a dead-end cubicle job. I never understood striving for unhappiness.

#70 David on 25, Oct, 2007 at 12:53 pm

I am sort of part of the working dead, i do accomplish my job and it is going 9 hours a day. however its not something i need to constantly attend to, so in the meantime i browse the internet etc.. and read blogs like this

#71 sharon on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:02 pm

One the worst things about jobs like this is they take you away from the truly productive work you could be doing.

My actual job–its actual purpose–is probably about as silly as possible, even though it’s a service people will actually pay for. But the work I love is growing vegetables, doing carpentry projects, cutting and splitting firewood, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my kids. Bet most people who are getting paid for doing nothing would far rather be doing work they value–and would trade life in a cubicle for life in “Little House on the Prairie” in a heartbeat.

#72 Jay on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:16 pm

Problem is with the workday mentality. I could get all my work done in a quarter of the time I’m given yet I still have to be here, at my desk, the whole time. Where is the incentive?


#73 SC on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:20 pm

As a former member of the working deas, all i can say is GET OUT NOW. I started my own business doing the same thing i was doing “web design”. Now when I waste time, its doing stuff like living life outside of work. And when I work hard long hours, I see the direct benefit in the form of more $$. The real problem with working for the “man” is that who wants to go above and beyond just to make someone else rich. When you work for someone else, you fall into the “work as little as possible to not get fired” mode and resent the fact that your hard work is just going to make someone else richer.

#74 Kelsey on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:27 pm

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve heard people excitedly say things like “My friend says he can get me a job at the company where he works – he doesn’t do a thing all day!” … as if that were a good thing. It drives me nuts. Some days I don’t have enough work to do at my office, and I HATE it – being shiftless and bored is terribly unpleasant. When I have plenty of work, my day speeds by and I feel a sense of accomplishment – mind you I don’t do anything earth-shatteringly important, but it feels good to *earn* my money, to get something done…

#75 Brian’s Blog » Blog Archive » The Working Dead on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:33 pm

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#76 Jason on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:37 pm

I can related on some level with all of you. But mostly I find myself in college working on a degree that is essentially ‘Majoring in minimum wage’ I just know that in the place that I am, I am heading for a $10 job, sitting at a desk, doing an hour of work over 8 hours. It scares me to know that before I am even there. I guess since I am young I figure I have all the time in the world and that I just feel this way now, that things will change. But from talking to a lot of people, and now, reading this article…Things aren’t going to get any better are they?

#77 » The Working Dead on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:38 pm

[…] post on the “working dead.” I can totally identify with this, though for me at my previous job it was achaea. There is […]

#78 Brandon on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:38 pm

One of the lies we’re told is that as adults, people enjoy working and love their jobs. This is largely false, since as you discover later there is a reason its called ‘work’: because if you weren’t getting paid, you wouldn’t be doing it.

While the nature of the work might be more or less enjoyable than other types of work, in the end you are performing a task/service that results in you getting paid in order that you can participate in a society in which money is the major motivator. I enjoy my work for the most part, as much as anyone can enjoy working since I have my own biz in the creative field, but even still, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have do. I’d rather be writing or traveling, but this is the nature of things.

In the end, work is work, its not life. If work is your life then I think you’ve merely entered another type of working dead, the type that looks back in 20 years and says ‘I wish I had enjoyed my life more instead of working all the time.’ Especially working for other people. You have one life, use it as best you can…

#79 jane on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Im a part of it and hate it too. Luckily this is only a temp job and my real passion and future is performance arts…but I often get scared out of my mind that life will get in the way and I will be stuck in this phase forever. I am not happy looking at articles like this all day on the internet…well…back to ‘work’.

#80 torawashi on 25, Oct, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Why do so many people define themselves by what they do for a living? Your job does not define your existence, it’s simply what you do to keep a roof over your head. If you don’t have the luxury of having a creative, stimulating job that keeps you occupied (and if you’re like most people, you don’t), are you a failure as a human being? Of course not.

It’s what you do with your whole life that defines whether you’re “dead” or alive, not just what you do from 9 to 5.

#81 deadright on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:02 pm

The job I currently have could be described as the working dead. I’m a receptionist/coordinator and spend 6 hours out of 8 surfing the web, reading articles like this with hopes that one day I will make money in a job that appreciates my effort and skills. I love the place I work, friendly people, creative environment and enough money I could live comfortably. My only complaint is that I’m stuck behind a desk answering phones when I’d much rather be editing/mixing/producing. I’m still young and am new but I hope that things progress, I’d hate to be surrounded by opportunity and let this all pass me by.

#82 Robmeister on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Great article! Keep up the good work. Maybe it will be contagious.

#83 WorkingDeadAlive on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:20 pm

I also am part of the working dead. I’m getting paid right now to write this reply. But I also agree that a lot of times it is boring. That is why I do a lot of independent learning and programming while doing nothing at work. Overall, it is a good place for me right now, but I won’t be doing this the rest of my life because I don’t plan on being worthless my entire life.

#84 Jared on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:24 pm

When I’m not at school or studying I’m at “work” (read: physically at place of employment). Because my job entails to simply to be there incase a total server meltdown occurs ( or a keyboard gets unplugged). I thought it would be great for school, you know get paid to study for 4 hours. After about a week my manager approached me and informed me that she had received some complaints about me not “working”. She recommended that I “My-Spaced” instead of study. As I do not have a myspace site, I have taken to scanning the chapters I plan on reading and putting them on a flash drive, in lue of becoming a member of the working dead. Excellent article, I will be using that term to reference the blissfully board from now on.

#85 Mike on 25, Oct, 2007 at 2:52 pm

A friend of mine drove a truck for a living with his father’s bakery. He picked me up once from a friend’s house. I remember we sat in front of a loading dock for two hours waiting for the cargo. Every time after that when I called him at work he was asleep in his truck. I too have succumbed to the enticement of the Working Dead. I work every day to try and reverse its hold.

#86 Chinat on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Fire the lot of them, these working stiffs. Let them taste real unemployment and hunger and despair.

#87 jeremy on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I think corporate policies have a lot to do with it too; they force us to become the Working Dead. For example, I’m a computer programmer, highly trained and eager to come up with some cool new code. I do it on my free time, I do it at work – it’s something I enjoy doing, but at my job every line of code has to go through a code review and then a change request and then a once-a-week maintenance window on Sundays (of all days) where we can actually implement what we do. I code for about 4 hours on Monday, ship it off for a review and then just sit and wait. It’ll get approved, and I doubt they even really look at it anyway, and then I have absolutely nothing to do until Sunday when I login and move my code into production. So needless to say during most of the week I’m excruciatingly bored and end up surfing Digg and emailing my friends all day. It’s a nature of the beast, at least here it is.

#88 roboninja on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:20 pm

I find it very ironic that you lament over how so many people are paid to do nothing, and then at the end of the article, you ask for donations so that you can continue to write. If you are writing and not getting paid enough to continue, what “thing” is it you are doing?

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#90 Pallum on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:27 pm

I think our president found out about the lack of work getting done and took away our cubicles. Seems to be working…

#91 heath on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:32 pm

this is interesting. i do not know if i have ever had a job like this. i know, sometimes you see people who act like this. or we have moods when you are slower than you should be. but i have always had a job where i am doing something.

i do hate it when a manager catches you talking. as if we are not social beings. and it is not like we talk any longer than 2 or 3 minutes at a time. well, i hope i do not anyway. =o)

or a manager may see us with coffee in-hand while waiting for work to be given by co-workers. and you seldom see that manager do anything. not to say they are not working when you are. but it is not seen.

#92 Imke on 25, Oct, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Maybe an USproblem? A friend of mine who worked there saig americans always said europeans had it easy as they have mote vactions and free time than you. But she saw that they worked less during the workday. Presence seem to be the credo of US work.

#93 The working (un)dead on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:03 pm

I am resisting the urge to be a member of the working dead (even now, as I’m responding to this article instead of working). When I started my job 2 years ago, I tried to be a superstar. I came in early, I stayed late. I volunteered for the projects nobody wanted, and I even created databases for the company which completely changed the way work flowed around here. I was underpaid and I believed that by doing all these things, someone would be impressed and I would get a raise to a salary that I actually deserved.

Over the course of the next year I realized that my productivity didn’t really matter. I would get the same pay no matter how much (or how little) I did, as long as I just showed up regularly and on time. Eventually I just lost the incentive to work. I started taking longer lunches, etc. My productivity has recently picked up again, but that’s just because I’m trying to pad my resume so I can move on to a place where I’m recognized and appreciated!

#94 John on 25, Oct, 2007 at 4:45 pm

Thank you!

I’m not alone. I’ve been working these living dead jobs for years now. I usually finish any work they have for me long before it’s due, and then they have nothing left for me and just expect me to show up and sit there for a certain amount of time.

I hate it.

I absolutely hate it. I can feel my life slowly wasting away. I feel like all my value is just being completely wasted and it angers me that my company allows it to happen and almost seems to encourage it.

So I’ve started to do something about it. I’m slowly building up my own business outside of work. Once I get a steady cashflow from it, I’m going to quit my day job and move onto more productive and happier times.

Thank you for this though, because for a long time I felt like it was my fault. I felt like there was something I should be doing that I wasn’t doing and that was the reason I had nothing to do at work. I had heard of similar situations from my friends but I just couldn’t believe that it was what is really going on. Now I know the truth.

#95 BarelyWorkingEver on 25, Oct, 2007 at 5:04 pm

The thing that sucks is that these people are really suffering for guilt. They think they need to work and they need a regular schedule and they need to make X amount of dollars to justify their lives. Then they go and stare at the wall at work and think they’re getting away with something.
But what are they justifying? Who is it being justified to?
I work about ten hours a week. I guess that’s quarter time. I live way out in the boonies in a house where I barely have to pay rent and I cook all my own food. The one extravagant expense I have is a rockin’ Net connection. It’s fucking paradise!
I’ve been living like this for years now. I sleep when I’m tired and I get up when my body naturally wakes up. That alone is absolutely priceless to me now that I have tasted how good it can be.
I study a dozen subjects in excruciating detail and with Open Access journals I can stay up-to-date on genuinely cutting edge research on almost any academic topic. There is simply no end to the entertainment value of a simple Net connection.
I eat incredible slow cooked meals every day and my house always smells like heaven from either slow roasting bread in the oven or garlic and chiles roasting on the stove. I have time to make yogurt at home. I make my own beer. I have better food at a lower cost than you can possibly buy in any supermarket in even the ritziest neighborhoods.
I have all kinds of time to cook and clean and work in the garden and do maintenance on the car to the point where I have very little reason to spend money at all. I go into town once a week for a few days and enjoy the city life and then it’s back to heaven for the rest of the week.
We could all live this way without the need to leave the urban cores if we just woke up as a society and realized the advantages of a flex schedule system. With that and by splitting up all our existing employment into about a third of the hours people are working we could have universal employment. Economically, it’s doable and socially it’s utterly sensible and yet most people just aren’t ready for it.
The real problem is not market forces or any other bugaboo macroeconomic fantasies. The problems is much more personal and difficult to face. The problem is simply that people are waiting for someone else to tell them their time is valuable instead of seeing it for themselves. This is so obvious and it is also so obviously tied into the problems of depression and obesity.
Some of us however, have woken up long ago and know how precious and wonderful this life is. I certainly feel that I am the wealthiest and luckiest person I’ve ever met and yet I hardly have any money at all. But boy I have a nice freakin’ life man.

#96 markus on 25, Oct, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Oh hell yeah I am one of the working dead!

I work as a security guard (basically a glorified night watchman) where I basically babysit a building alllllll night. IF i did my job completely “by the book” I would have had to kill myself years ago. Its a hellish mind-numbingly boring job. Imagine walking around a building inside & out all night, jiggling doorknobs & basically being “observant & aware” & worrying about the possibility of getting killed by some POS that wants to rob the place you are guarding. Now do that for years on end & imagine trying NOT to commit suicide every hour that slowly creeps by. That is what it would be like IF I were to do my job perfectly by the book.

Actually, I hardly ever do my rounds at all … perhaps the bare minimum at least. Most of the time is spent online (I bring my own laptop to work & use dialup) reading websites/forums, playing online checkers or pool or watching TV & basically doing anything else I can to distract myself from the hellishly boring job I have.

The point is that with miserable jobs, killing time doing something else is just about the ONLY way to do them & maintain your sanity.
ANd before you say “just get another job!” I have worked plenty of other jobs & have hated every single one of them. I have come to the conclusion that I would not be content with ANY job. I have never had a “passion” for anything I could concievably do to make a living at, so… being one of the “working dead” is the next best thing.

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#98 u on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:20 pm

I am a member of the working dead. I would always tell people about how little I do, yet in the same breath I would complain about how little I get paid.

My friends became quite aggravated over this, since they would do “real work” (READ: Manual labour), sometimes get paid less and not get full time benefits.

However, this came down to, I want to work, I was complaining about my salary since my boredom carries a huge premium. If I can’t get interesting work that I want to do, you’re sure as fuck going to pay a premium for my services.

As a consequence I am retraining myself and taking more risk. People that remain in those working dead circumstances often don’t take on enough risk, or don’t care about doing anything but.

Either way, soon I am out of my status quo hell.

#99 Antonio Cangiano on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:23 pm

Very nice write up, Shaun. Having read a few of your articles, I’m convinced that you are going to make it.

#100 Infaereld on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:23 pm

Yep….. i agree, doing nothing is hell. Your brain slowly rots away and you lose all ability to think critically and creatively. I am workong as an ALT (assistant language teacher in Japan). Now don’t get me wrong I have my busy days but I’s say i spent at least 50% of my day surfing the net. Some might think this is paradise but i hate it. I can’t wait to marry my gf and get back home so I can do a “real” job. I mean i think this job is ok for a year or two but i can’t understand the wankers that stay in Japan doing this kind of crap for years on end. The days i feel best are the days I am busy. I actaully get more tired if i’m doing nothing. Anyone else do a job like this? i participate in some classes but other times i just stare at the walls while the Japanese teacher blabs on aobut grammer. It’s driving me nuts but there’S not really any other work I can do in this town. Anyway that’S my rant . I never had the time to write on forums before this job…..

#101 Lawrence Tureaud on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:27 pm

Underneath the article:

Related Articles
Gunman Shoots 3 In Troy Workplace

The Working Dead… Riight….

#102 Scott on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:33 pm

Cute article. I like at the end where you ask us to give you money so you can keep your writing career going. Sorry Kid, Being a beggar is worse than the Working Dead. Get a job 🙂

#103 scott on 25, Oct, 2007 at 9:56 pm

When I think about how much we waste on taxes and government spending, I always want to say CUT EVERYTHING, CUT 80%!! And the counter argument is generally: what will all those people do for work?

It’s been my experience that they aren’t doing much as it is, let them get a real job for once.

#104 kelly on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:06 pm

I’ve looked high and low for about the past 7 years for a for a job where this situation doesn’t exist. What I’ve found is that this is the norm. No matter where you go, you’re hard-pressed to make a difference. What a waste. I was hired at a company making $96K annually, literally to put a butt in a seat. I wasn’t expected to do anything at all. I got bored one day, and walked across the parking lot to a computer store. I bought a laptop and wrote a couple of applications on my own. I left that job when my contract ended and got another one which was actually kind of fun, but the commute was hell, and the pay sucked. So I left for a job at an insurance company. It was full of the working dead. I tried to stir people up and get them to do something, and it didn’t work. I got frustrated and left. I very carefully considered my next position. I asked all the right questions, got all the right answers, and thought I had finally found the “right” job. But guess what? This one, where I am now, is the worst of all. My boss is the coolest, but the company itself is a horrible un-funny joke.

I refuse to participate any longer. I’m going to be the Working Dead for awhile longer. I have to feed my family and pay for my house, so I can’t just walk out. But I’m building up a “go to hell fund”, and someday I intend to use it. I’m starting my own company. And when it’s up and running, it will be a cool place to work. Come hell or high water, I WILL ENJOY MY JOB.

#105 FascistUSA on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:12 pm

Fight Club. Ever read it?

This is what the whole damn book is about : YOU. “Jack” develops another Personailty to deal with being a WAGE SLAVE in a Fascist, Elite-Owned Corporate Country.

The Braindead. The Non-Thinkers. Wage Slaves. Soulless. Without Conscience. It’s YOU.

That was what Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand was also about. YOU.

#106 john on 25, Oct, 2007 at 10:59 pm

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy sunday afternoon..


#107 Dave Child on 26, Oct, 2007 at 2:15 am

This happens when you have poor leadership. No shared goals and no vision of the future demotivate people. Bad leaders will try and resolve that by offering financial perks, which are actually demotivating too.

I enjoy what I actually do, but it’s perfectly possible for me to be demotivated as a result of poor management and leadership above. It’s happened before, and I’ve ended up doing the minimum. But the jobs where leadership has been good have been the ones where I’ve worked hard – for myself, because I wanted to.

#108 jak on 26, Oct, 2007 at 2:28 am

In many ways schooling prepares us for such a “working” dead lifestyle.

Read (or listen to) something by John Taylor Gatto to understand this better.

#109 shook_1 on 26, Oct, 2007 at 3:35 am

@Kelly who said he’ll start his own company

Guess what, you will need employees how will inevitably turn into ‘The Working Dead’, and the cycle repeats itself

#110 Orbyne on 26, Oct, 2007 at 6:37 am

This is sadly very familiar and resonant to my own experience. I found there to be three types of people in workplaces.

1) People who just want to do the least and get paid the most, (the majority is seems)

2) People who want do the best job, deliver excellence, execute well etc. (fewer but make up the numbers in a lot of “pro” workplaces) [Don’t rock the boat, non-disruptive] Investment Bankers, IT/Management Consultancy and so on.

3) People who want to be creative, who want to make something themselves, who want to do something in a new, novel way, solve a new problem or an old one in new way etc. (very rare breed, not too welcome in most workplaces, with relatively few opportunities open and very very rare that they will be recognised for their efforts.)

3 normally try to make some kind of compromise and decouple themselves as much as they can from those environments while still being in the money flow. Freelance, Entrepreneur, good work/work for money balance…

#111 Software Success (an essay on true love) « Toasted Code on 26, Oct, 2007 at 11:14 am

[…] the last 12 years I’ve worked with a lot of software developers that would fit this description. Totally bored with their job and willing only to do the bare minimum: just enough to get […]

#112 The Working Dead « prompt2 on 26, Oct, 2007 at 11:28 am

[…] read more… […]

#113 Horsefug.Com » The Working Dead on 28, Oct, 2007 at 4:20 pm

[…] wrote an interesting post today on The Working DeadHere’s a quick […]

#114 Chris on 28, Oct, 2007 at 5:10 pm

I think that’s just what happens when you work for a very large company. My dad used to work for a large beer company, he would always come home complaining about how boring it was over there and how his boss was an asshole. Everyday. I think if you work for a small company, that’s just starting out or you start your own business you wouldn’t find any dull moments such as that.

#115 | The Working Dead: How *NOT* To Have a Career on 28, Oct, 2007 at 8:44 pm

[…] is an excellent article along the lines of the […]

#116 connectqz » Blog Archive » The Working Dead on 28, Oct, 2007 at 10:16 pm

[…] You can read more here […]

#117 John in Missouri on 30, Oct, 2007 at 11:19 am


Sad, sad news. I’m glad to say that I am not one of the working dead. I enjoy my job and look for opportunities to challenge me. I pity those who just perform busy work; their life is worth the effort they put into it. Unfortunately, civilization is tilting in the direction of a dishonest day’s pay for a dishonest day’s work. I recognize it, and it saddens me. In fact, I suspect that we are more likely to smother ourselves in lethargy than blow ourselves to the next century in war.

#118 discarded lies - hyperlinkopotamus on 31, Oct, 2007 at 1:17 am

Are you one of “the Working dead”?…

Are you one of “the Working dead”?…

#119 tim on 31, Oct, 2007 at 11:04 am

It’s the natural result of very high productivity nested in a nineteenth century model of worker organization. I think people accept the system and rationalize it because of the futility of any attempt to change the system.
There are not any Henry Fords around to revolutionize the factory floor. Remember, Mr. Ford introduced a $5.00 a day wage and limited working hours at a time when people worked 12-14 hours a day for $2.00.
Such a revolution today might allow workers to come in and do their work for twice the wage and half the time, or to do twice the work for twice the pay full time. I’m talking about actual work, not placeholding. This could introduce increases in worker productivity and company profits enjoyed by the Ford company at the time of the $5.00 day.
In my company, the same thing occurs across the board from the lowest to the highest level. People killing time at work. Despite this “fact”, worker productivity in the aggregate statistics continues to rise.

#120 Peterwrites » links for 2007-11-02 on 02, Nov, 2007 at 11:20 am

[…] The Working Dead Obviously related to the saddest-cubicle contest: The Working Dead are the class of people who waste their lives away one day at a time at jobs where they accomplish nothing. (tags: work productivity living) […]

#121 More Jack’s Business » The Working Dead : People Who Waste Their Lives Away - One Day at a Time on 02, Nov, 2007 at 2:59 pm

[…] read more | digg story […]

#122 links for 2007-11-04 at DeStructUred Blog on 03, Nov, 2007 at 10:17 pm

[…] The Working Dead · (tags: Articles Blog Career Job Life productivity) Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

#123 sam on 05, Nov, 2007 at 5:32 am

Yes, I am among them. But I can’t stop.

Somebody help me.

#124 Jeff on 05, Nov, 2007 at 6:14 pm

Very similar to my industry right before I got here. A lot of loan officer babysitting a phone. And know what, it rang!

It doesn’t anymore. Bottom line, they would have a hard time being self employed. In fact, they would starve except for those pesky food stamps. Thank you for the blog!

#125 mirko’s blog » The Working Dead on 07, Nov, 2007 at 7:03 pm

[…] la légende urbaine ci-dessous, mais si vous cliquez sur ce lien, vous allez découvrir un troublant phénomène concernant le monde du travail tel que beaucoup le voient (et certains en […]

#126 The Working Dead | on 08, Nov, 2007 at 8:12 pm

[…] at Life Reboot wrote a fascinating article about “The Working Dead.” In it he describes the working dead as a “class of people who waste their lives away […]

#127 Indulging in my Own Pleasures » Blog Archive » The working dead. on 10, Nov, 2007 at 5:01 am

[…] Source […]

#128 It’s Not My Job! on 23, Nov, 2007 at 9:46 am

[…] at wrote a fascinating piece of work in “The Working Dead.”  In this article, he writes about an experience with his very first job, the purpose of […]

#129 The clocks news blog » The Working Dead : People Who Waste Their Lives Away - One Day at a Time on 26, Dec, 2007 at 6:56 am

[…] read more | digg story   […]

#130 fayea on 27, Dec, 2007 at 12:22 am

I actually didn’t know this was a phenomenen around the world. I thought I was weird complaining to my boss that I have nothing to do.

#131 beautiflowers on 08, Jan, 2008 at 12:04 pm

OH MY GOSH!!! This is so me. I guess I better get on the ball and find out my ‘paradise’. Thanks for the encouragement. – beautiflowers

#132 Gary on 17, Jan, 2008 at 12:40 pm

While I was in the govt, (22 yrs, Retired) Active Duty, I watched several members who were ‘the working dead’. It is accepted for many members who were deemed difficult to work with or together. Some of them have a unique skill, been in a job for too long, and or are close to retirement. Their supervisor or bosses do not want to rock the boat and relieve them of their duty. I had always recommended saving the govt money by firing those members. Well, that never happened, and yet the ‘working dead’ still plagues the military today. HINT…that is why many of us retire before we are ready. We are tired of trying to help and produce while the working dead are awarded.

I have witnessed many occasions where members were awarded for not producing anything. In fact, I witness a member awarded an ANNUAL award for Senior Leaders. This award was choosen by reading a written list of accomplishments. These documents began with the member’s supervisor and was edited and reviewed by their senior leaders. I was one who ‘reviewed’ these award letters, though for this one I did not get a vote on the winner. So, the winner for our squadron; this member did absolutely nothing. He produced nothing, saved nothing, and helped nobody. Yet, this award document made him sound as if he saved the world. In fact, he even bragged about it after winning the award. It amazes me that five different folks who reviewed this award document never challenged their acclaims. Again, they did not want to rock the boat. Well, I say rock it…How do these folks make it?


#133 “Stephen Hopson Interview” with Shaun Boyd Coming Up! on 18, Jan, 2008 at 5:41 pm

[…] If you’ve been part of the Adversity University community for some time, chances are pretty good you’ve seen at least one or two stories by Shaun Boyd of LifeReboot because I’ve “Stumbled” and given out link love for some of his articles including ”The Working Dead.”  […]

#134 Interview with Shaun Boyd of LifeReboot - Part II of II on 30, Jan, 2008 at 6:00 am

[…] The Working Dead […]

#135 Billy Joel - The Angry Young Man on 21, Feb, 2008 at 12:41 pm

You’re still young kid. Wait until you’re 40 and you may see things a different way. When I was younger I thought all this and that about what people were doing to themselves and others. Now I unmderstand a little more, and accept a little more.
There’s a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl,
He’s always at home with his back to the wall.
And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost,
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.

Give a moment or two to the angry young man,
With his foot in his mouth and his heart in his hand.
He’s been stabbed in the back, he’s been misunderstood,
It’s a comfort to know his intentions are good.
And he sits in a room with a lock on the door,
With his maps and his medals laid out on the floor-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.

I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
I once believed in causes too,
I had my pointless point of view,
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.

And there’s always a place for the angry young man,
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand.
And he’s never been able to learn from mistakes,
So he can’t understand why his heart always breaks.
But his honor is pure and his courage as well,
And he’s fair and he’s true and he’s boring as hell-
And he’ll go to the grave as an angry old man.

#136 soundboy on 21, Feb, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Being a member of the working dead is how I found out about this site. Yup, I understand your pain. I try very hard to fill my time with something useful, that might one day get me a job I can actually do something with.

#137 Dallas S. on 21, Feb, 2008 at 5:18 pm

It’s no fair. I want to join the working dead. I’m obviously working way to hard for my money. I build houses. You know something society actually needs. Something useful and productive. Yet somehow you people can sit around all day probably making more money than me. It must be nice. As far a government employees go. If your sitting around all day doing nothing your a parasite.

#138 nothing happens :: well, never mind (the job hunt chronicles) part 2: halp raet on 28, Feb, 2008 at 3:51 pm

[…] the day, yet have accomplished, in my own estimation, very little, I'll start to feel like the Working Dead, I'll hate my job and start surfing stupid shit at work because I can't get focused on […]

#139 Magpie on 12, Mar, 2008 at 8:32 pm

I’m absolutely fascinated by this blog. I’m absolutely fascinated also that this particular article is STILL generating feedback.

I too am just another voice lost in the hurricane of The Working Dead.

You’re distilling some fabulous concepts here, and your style is becoming neat and concise. You ARE becoming a writer.

Best of luck to you, and I too hope to some day break out of the “Dead” Zone.

#140 DJ-Mindwarp on 21, Apr, 2008 at 3:13 pm

quote Spike:(The great secret of the Working Class is that it doesn’t like to work. The Managerial Class is the one that likes to work, and doesn’t understand why the Working Class doesn’t. From there, we get coercion, fear, etc.. )

not true the managerial class for the most part now days sucks they are just like the working class you describe for the most part except they can get others to do work for them so they can sit on there ass all day.

what you describe is the true working class you know those few for some reason get picked on at work for doing there actual job i guess the managerial class dosent like to be outdone by the very incompetent working class or so they thought. sure the managerial class you describe is the way it should be but for the most part i havent seen it.

#141 nikola on 19, May, 2008 at 5:20 am

I actually didn’t know this was a phenomenen around the world.
Great article.
Thnx for share it…

#142 scott on 27, Sep, 2008 at 5:50 am

?hat’s the way it works pretty much all around the world.Everything is the same.

#143 scott on 27, Sep, 2008 at 5:50 am

That’s the way it works pretty much all around the world.Everything is the same.

#144 Kriisi on 01, Nov, 2008 at 6:40 pm

The sorriest types of the Working Dead I’ve seen are the ones, who have at some stage been driven to part exhaustion so that they spend half their time doing nothing or playing solitaire/browsing the net because they are unable to start with what they are doing. Rest of the time they’re working their asses off because they’ve wasted a lot of good working time – which in turn increases the exhaustion. Seems to actually be more common in creative jobs. I guess they are so tired their creativity has been paralyzed and they need the adrenaline rush of being in a big hurry to get the creative juices flowing and get the job done. But it’s an evil circle which feeds on itself and sooner or later the well runs dry.

#145 Dick Schwab on 25, Nov, 2008 at 4:12 pm

Spammy, redundant, no different from the same people you criticize. It seems that you found yourself in a few working situations that were unpleasant, uninspiring, a reminder of where you’re at and what you don’t want; which is fine, but to say that the working dead are unproductive pornies is a shallow statement of self- frustration.
They bring about balance, and without them, the world would crumble. And who are we to shed light onto their dark world of labor. People are afraid of suicide, so they decide to die their jobs/religion/drugs at an early age. Instead of wasting time putting down your old co-workers, maybe put yourself above all of that, figure out a why to use them, and raise an army. They need someone to follow and root for.
And why would you post this log blog, almost it seems to only take credit for the saying “Working Dead”? Jeff Buckley summed it all up with only a mention of the Dead in one of his songs.

#146 Brighteyed on 21, Dec, 2008 at 4:18 pm

I think being a member of the working dead is a necessity for the majority of people. If you don’t have enough work to fill an eight hour day, what are you supposed to do? Blatantly finish your work in two hours and sit for six? Sounds good, except that will get you fired. Maybe you should tell your boss you don’t have enough work. Then you run the risk of hearing “If there’s not a job for you to do, then there’s no need to have your position filled”.
I had a friend who clocked a 40hr week but basically worked a 15hr week. She was bored out of her mind, and gave herself all sorts of extra projects to do for the job to take up time. She liked the job and the company and all that, but she wanted to do something other than “look busy” for five hours out of the day, so she approached her boss and asked if he could shorten her workday, that she would still do all of the work of a 8hr day, but in 6hrs, which would save the company money. His response: to fire her, because it was a full time position.
Me personally, when I work in a job where there’s not enough work to last the whole shift, I do leisure activities out of necessity, to save my real work for when I’m being watched, not because I mind working, but because if I didn’t, I would probably lose my job.

#147 D D on 22, Feb, 2009 at 5:37 pm

At my previous job, I WAS essentially a member of the working dead – since I was front-line helpdesk staff, there wasn’t much else to do. My department head didn’t mind my personal web surfing too much (not porn – but historical research relating to technology) so long as I got what I needed to do, done and that I didn’t show up in the monthly “Top Ten” internet users submitted to the executives monthly. 😉 I could see the others in IT were up to their eyeballs in work, so I’d bug them to see if there was anything I could help them with – even though they knew I was more than capable of whatever they sent my way, I was often brushed off with a “No, that’s fine…” Frankly, I would probably still be there if I hadn’t become disgusted with the irrational sense of entitlement exhibited by the new COO – she managed to end up with FOUR PCs AND a laptop for her use – whereas her predecessor was perfectly satisfied with JUST ONE LAPTOP as her primary workstation. And to top THAT off, the CEO has only ONE PC (and VPN access, of course) – he is satisfied with that as well. I think it was a Good Thing ™ that I was already part-time at a previous employer that was after me about the chance of returning full-time. I made the job switch a few months back and I’m happy (although the new job does suck from time to time – what job doesn’t?). I actually take a perverse pleasure now in the other company’s slow slide into oblivion – I even told the CEO’s younger brother (who also works for that company) my honest opinion that I believe the COO would be that company’s downfall; he was taken just a little aback by that comment.

#148 Vesti Vijesti on 04, Jun, 2009 at 6:48 am

I didn’t know this was a phenomen around the world.
I like this article.

#149 Mikey on 10, Oct, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Good article. I love the ‘nap time’ bit! I actually laughged. I had a crystal clear image in my head, down to his rye smile, raised eyebrows and voice! lol

Some before mentioned that doing such a job is ‘wasting your youth’, our most ‘valuable possession’. Well im still a young guy and it got me all paranoid about me wasting my youth. But the thing is, what choice does one have? You need money so that you can go out and do the fun things you enjoy doing with your youth? Id say we’re wasting our youth (through no fault of out own) every minute that we are NOT out clubbing trying to pick up girls all playing football, personally. What should one do with their youth, work wise? I dont have a degree and am on and off of dead end (working dead) jobs and would welcome insight. Nothing has ever remotely interested me, ‘work wise’ hence the mess that my life appears to be in! lol

#150 I want out on 03, Nov, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Thank you for this blog! I came across it as I searched the internet in desperation and depression for insight to my own situation. I too have become a member of the Working Dead. I have been a computer analyst/programmer for over twenty years now. For the first fifteen, I had more work to do than time to do it. Our organization then took a step to de-empahsize “in-house” work and paid outside contractors to build a master system. For the last five years, my workload has dwindled to a point that now in a forty hour week, I have about six hours of actual work on average. There are many times I actually wish that the employer would simply fire me. The benefits I have earned in twenty years and the goal of eventual retirement keep from doing what my heart desires and just quit.

Nothing is more trying than getting up to go to a job where you know that you will be required to sit for eight hours with nothing to do. If it were not for the internet and books, I would have have gone insane quickly.The fear of survival is the only thing that keeps me going everyday. In truth, I feel like I am serving a prison sentence with weekend parole. I would gladly do any work in which I felt needed and had a sense of accomplishment. If I thought that I could survive, I would probably consider volunteer work.

It is a dark problem that we all face and I thank you for giving voice to this concern.

#151 ¤ Trading For A Living – Fool’s Paradise Or Realistic Possibility? ¤ on 18, Nov, 2009 at 1:44 pm

[…] The Working Dead · […]

#152 Il rumore on 22, Jan, 2010 at 6:33 am

It’s odd, there’s always some response about how “that’s just the way it is.” And suddenly it’s O.K. again to waste one’s entire life on what is essentially nothing. I’m serious, when whatever energies that cause this vast engine to run expire, it’s not as if our extra diligence, hard work and years of “keeping the nose to the grindstone” earns us bonus points that get us extra lives or a secret level (ever notice how video games are also monotonous and repetitive, even in our fantasies, mankind is boring). We only get the one, after that it’s lights out and in the dirt. I can’t say I’ve got some kind of solution, but it’s not O.K. for people to waste their lives this way.

#153 Kriste on 14, Feb, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I used to get paid for doing lots of nothing, so I can totally relate to this topic. ‘Job Security’ is overrated. And even though I was being paid well, I finally realized I was paying way too handsome a price just to ‘ride the clock.’

#154 vesti srbija on 09, Mar, 2010 at 6:41 am

Where I can find more article like this. I didn’t know this was a phenomen around the world.

#155 izrada web sajta on 23, Mar, 2010 at 10:10 am

I did not know this was a phenommen around the world.

#156 Pete Berwick on 16, Apr, 2010 at 12:11 pm

The only true satisfaction I personally ever recieved was when I finally starting working for myself. It is a different mentality when you are your own boss and are 100% dependent on you and only you to get the job done and pay the bills and expenses. Many people go in to work each day in a brainwashed hynotic dronelike state after their nightly dose of mind rot television, and their only creative thoughts are of how they can rip off the boss by wasting time. I would rather crawl through hell on broken glass then go back to the job world. I encourage everyone reading this, that if you hate your job and are miserable, then get off that damn chair and walk out right now. Screw the cushy insurance and benefits and stupid week paid vacation. ( I can take a whole damn year off if I desire.) Life is way too short to die unsatisfied.
The year I said 3$@# it and walked off my last day job I doubled my income. I am a full time entertainer and I perform every show as if my life depended on it, and in that I am living an adventure I will never regret.

#157 Truds on 19, Apr, 2010 at 7:51 am

I work amoung the living dead. I however choose to actually WORK amoung them.Work to me is part of life and as they say all work is noble. I found in talking and studing my co-unworkers they all have deep seeded reasons they don’t apply themselves. Some are just lazy, some don’t know how, some are depressed for different reasons but most are like cows they follow each other around in circles without a leader. From where I stand, companies just like the one I work for the passion to built and sucess must come from the top. And it is missing!

#158 Mooderator on 09, Jun, 2010 at 10:47 am

I’ve seen people collect overtime to sleep. And I’m reading and responding to this blog (fine job, BTW!) while I’m on the clock. That should tell you something.

#159 » Your source of everyday inspiration, gah! Early Retirement Extreme: — written by Jacob Lund Fisker, Freelancer on 16, Jun, 2010 at 2:04 pm

[…] past on the the 800+ posts I have written, there is everything needed to get out of a boring job or stop working unless you for some reason really want to. This means, essentially, that the […]

#160 M on 16, Jun, 2010 at 2:35 pm

On mondays I just stare at the computer screen

-Office Space

#161 A Midsummer Night’s Reading | Invest It Wisely on 27, Jul, 2010 at 4:04 pm

[…] Life Reboot: The Working Dead […]

#162 Casey on 19, Sep, 2010 at 3:44 pm

hmm… sounds like some people need to be told what to do at every moment in order to feel fulfilled.

#163 Working Zombie on 08, Dec, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I’m waiting for something to come along where I’m NOT the working dead. Most days I’m just happy to have a job.

#164 A Brief History of the Undead « uberless on 26, Mar, 2011 at 3:23 am

[…] I used to say that the one thing I never want to be in life was jaded. I thought that jaded people were unhappy people, cynical people, bitter people. I’m not sure I feel any differently about them, but I’ve changed my motto. Now the one thing I never want to be in life is oblivious. I want to be present, I want to be here, now. I want to be mindful of where my life is going, mindful of my actions or lack thereof, mindful of what I want out of life and determined to go get it. Oblivious people are zombies. They don’t feel anymore, don’t see anymore. They’re the walking dead. Or perhaps a more accurate description is The Working Dead. […]

#165 Rob on 10, May, 2011 at 12:25 am

This is pretty much the way it is at every single place I have ever worked. When I finished graduate school I got a job working for a DoD contractor and it was an absolute friggen joke. I was being paid $90K a year to manage program that the Army decided not to fund after they had let the contract. I asked my boss what I was supposed to do since all of the projects I was supposed to be managing were unfunded and the employees I was supposed to be supervising were never hired because they had diverted all the money to other stuff. The boss said “I don’t give a damn what the hell you do, but we have a contract with the DoD that says we must have a manager onsite at that base to manage that program. If they don’t fund the damn program so you can do anything that is not our f—ing problem.” “Then he said f— it just act busy, nobody in that office knows WTF you do anyway and they are paying us a s—load of money for this goat rope.”

Finally I got bored with that after five friggen years of doing essentially nothign but developing work plans, budgets and project proposals for a program that was not being funded.

I quit that job and got a six figure job with an engineering firm working on DoD projects. I figured that it would be different but it was the same thing. Half the time there was nothing to do so the boss told us what charge code to put down for all the time we spent surfing the net because there was nothing to work on. Usually he billed it to this seventy million dollar contract they had with the Navy.

The company didn’t need half the employees they had but they wanted people with impressive degrees and backgrounds because it looked better when they listed a bunch of highly qualified people on the bid proposal even if most did very little work. They could also bill the client for all these project managers, civil engineers, geologists, archeologists, botanists, soil scientists, limnologists, biologists, etc., etc. They were probably billing the client at nearly twice the rate they were paying us so just having us on the payroll was generating profit even if we didn’t do a damn thing.

#166 Himu on 13, May, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I am currently working at an educational institute as the Computer Guy. This is a private institue.. and hence run by my big boss who is the owner. Her son is the director managing everything. Anyway, when I joined I was very enthusatic to prove I can do it… you know. I tried to do everything as quick as I could. However, a few months later I was told by my boss that why am I being so quick in everything. If I do everything right away, then we wont have much to do later. That really stuck me. Thats true! Be slow.. and productive in his eyes rather than be fast and productive in my eyes. So I am now slow, bored, fucking depressed at work

#167 Mackenzie Peterson on 27, May, 2011 at 1:56 pm

How true and tragic this post is. When people join the “working dead”, sure, they may get to avoid exerting effort, but they are also deprived of experiencing one of life’s greatest pleasures: enjoying the satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work. If only more people could recognize the value that comes from actually getting things done and change the way they think about accomplishment in the workplace. . .

#168 Mo on 05, Aug, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I just now discovered your website.

People like those you have described make me sick! I, too, have seen them/worked with them.

I have never been this way. I love to work and I work hard. I do not believe in stealing from my employer. I am paid to WORK, not sleep, play on the computer or anything else.

It is so depressing to realize that lazy people like this continue to keep their jobs, while I have been out of work for four years.

#169 Brandon on 10, Oct, 2011 at 2:17 am

3rd shift. Mon – Thurs. Dead. > Waffle House. Smoking. Cleaning Same Thing. Cooking For Co Workers. Grill Op Cleans Everything 1st n 2nd didn’t do. > Work.

#170 Peter on 24, Jan, 2012 at 5:50 am


I discovered your wonderful website yesterday and came across this post, which sort of hit me like a frying pan in the face – this is me at the moment. Secretary in an office sitting in fronmt of a PC all day answering emails. I knew a while ago I needed to reclaim my life, but mortgage and kids meant I had to be sensible. But kids now grown up and mortgage nearly paid. So now at 48 and after reading this post (and various others on your site, I’m enrolling in a psychology coures with the Open University today.



#171 Utsuho on 01, May, 2012 at 3:32 am

Must be a nice problem to have. How do I get a job playing solitaire or WoW? Every job I’ve ever had usually had me overburdened and smothered underneath some retard riding my ass multiple times a day to get things done. Except of course when promotions come around or payday is due but the budget is low…then they’re nowhere to be seen of course.

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