There are, I suppose, some people out there who really love their jobs. I mean, they really love their jobs; to them, it's almost a shame to close up shop and go home. I'm sure these people exist somewhere. NewsChannel 37 (fill in the appropriate channel number for your television market) seems to have no trouble finding them for what are lately called "human interest stories". For all I know, there may be one or two where I work. But for the life of me, I can't get any kind of handle on this particular premise.

Not that I haven't tried. I suspect, though, that one of the obstacles to acheiving this blissful state is a built-in resistance to simplistic homilies of the sort routinely spouted by self-described motivation experts. For instance, there's that oft-repeated bromide, "The customer is always right." Maybe 80 percent of them are. I never hear from them. But it's the other 20 percent who keep you on the phone all day, and, fulfilling one of life's less amusing jokes, they're the ones who believe most fervently in the premise. Our server is pretty smart, but it's not so smart that it can go in and change stuff people have entered into an online form. But they'll never, ever believe it; it's always something we did, just for spite. Precisely how it's in our best interest to stick it to them, they can't explain, but bygod, they know that they are perfectly blameless. People like this shouldn't be allowed out of the house, let alone out on the Net. On the other hand, if we catered only to people with active brain cells, we'd probably be wallowing in Chapter 11.

I've never bought into the premise that people are supposed to hate work. On the other hand, I can't imagine anyone liking having to deal with people with room-temperature IQs. (Some of them, alas, are on the Celsius scale.) I don't for a moment believe that our particular passel of dimwit consumers is atypically horrid; surely even Jeff Bezos must occasionally let out a scream. But as the New Information Economy reveals itself as just an overpriced (and not any better-paying) variant of the Old Service Economy, I fear that we're going to have to deal with more and more people who know less and less. Apparently the number of clues on earth is a constant, and with the population increasing...well, you do the math. And if you get the wrong answer, please don't call me at work.

The Vent

#203
1 July 2000

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