It begins on Friday. “Got any plans this weekend? What are you doing? Are you going to the
big game big concert craft sale at the VFW? Will you be having a cookout party crawfish boil for the holiday weekend?”
And it ends, momentarily at least, on Monday. “How was your weekend? What did you do? Did you go anywhere? Did you do anything?”
It’s office small talk that allows people to appear somewhat interested in the lives of their fellow cubicle dwellers. More than likely, Glen in Purchasing could really care less that Carmen from Marketing is attending the Annual Furry Convention to be held in Pittsburgh (well, ok, that might intrigue him a bit…), but he feels the need to ask.
But I’ve noticed, throughout my working years, that this idle chatter can turn into yet another form of workplace one-upmanship. I’ve heard the sanctimonious inflection in a woman’s voice as she answered “I retiled the bathroom Saturday morning, applied weed-and-feed to the lawn, hosted a small gathering for 8 on Saturday night and then, after church on Sunday, tackled that smoked salmon w/ foie gras recipe I’ve been meaning to try. It was a light weekend.” And I‘ve witnessed the blank-stare and faintly disguised superiority from the questioner when someone (oh wait, that was me) answered “I did absolutely nothing.”
Perhaps it’s a cliché because it’s true when we admonish people to “take time to smell the roses.” Why must we feel the need to be doing-something-every-minute? After a busy, hectic and structured work week filled with meetings, appointments, phone calls and tasks, isn’t it just enough to stop, relax and not feel the need to DO?
In our quest to appear busy and engaged a
nd active and plugged-in we seem to have collectively embraced the viewpoint that just being in one place (i.e. HOME) for a span of time longer than it takes us to sleep and bathe is now seen as some sign of societal disengagement. Weekends spent cuddling one’s children on the couch under a comforter, reading a book for the pure enjoyment of it or even mindlessly watching VH1’s marathon of “100 One-Hit Wonders” are all perfectly acceptable ways to spend the weekend – aren’t they?
Yet, I’m convinced; we sometimes ask others how they spend their leisure time for the primary purpose of making judgments about either their lack of ambition or their lack of creativity.
Occasionally I pull my car into the garage on a Friday evening and don’t venture out beyond our property line again until Monday morning. I eat cold pizza for breakfast and cereal for dinner. I watch The Princess Diaries and Sex and the City reruns. I read Happy Hollisters books and pretend I’m in 2nd grade. I deep cleanse my pores. I take a nap in the morning and then, just for good measure, I take another one in the afternoon.
Then, come Monday morning, I go along with the small talk and ask my colleagues what they did over the weekend while I answer their queries as well.
And when I state “I did absolutely nothing” I do so with pride.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Robin Schooling likes gadgets, coffee, wine and football and insists upon surrounding herself with people who are curious and have a desire to try new things. After 20 plus years in HR, she is fully aware that HR is fun, frustrating, rewarding, maddening and important … and she loves most-every minute of it. You can keep up with Robin at her blog HRSchoolhouse.com and on the Twitter at @RobinSchooling.
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