About the Author
Michael Feldman is the creator and host of Public Radio International's popular quiz show Whad'Ya Know?, which originates from his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. He is also the author of Glad You Asked, Wisconsin Curiosities, Thanks for the Memos, and Something I Said?: Innuendo and Out the Other.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Excerpt from Whad'Ya Know?
Whad'Ya Know About People?
Statistics Don't Lie
or Do They?
I know, we're people, not statisticsbut can't we be both? Isn't it somehow reassuring to know that your every habit, behavior, and taste is smack dab in the middle of the mean of everybody else's in your demographic? We are, after all, information that walks, every man Jack and Lady Jane an Encyclopædia (Your Name Here)-ica. Comes a stiff breeze, the pages flip open to reveal:
- 53 percent of American workers feel they work "with a bunch of monkeys." What the monkeys think, we don't know.
- 77 million American workers say they are burned out. There are 100 million American workers.
- Psychologists are much more satisfied with their jobs than roofers.
- Over half of all office workers intentionally dress like their bosses.
- Only 1 woman out of 100 wears 4-inch heels or better every day, but God bless her.
- 3 out of 4 cell phone users store texts they prefer others never see; about 1 in 3 have pictures that are even worse.
- 54 percent of Mexican workers are emotionally invested in their jobs; 29 percent of Americans and only 3 percent of Japanese workers are.
- While 91 percent of adults pick their noses, only 1 in 12 eat it.
- 1 American in 3 says lack of intimacy is the reason for lack of intimacy.
- 85 percent of all men would not enjoy a nice manicure.
- 83 percent have steered with their knees.
- Statistically, everyone but women are getting fatter.
- 2 out of 3 are with the man of their dreams.
- Out of 117 small cities, La Crosse, WI, is 110th in stress.
- Casual Fridays cause individual office workers to burn an additional 25 calories.
- More Americans experience creative thinking in their cars than their beds.
- In a crowd of 100 Americans, 7 can play the clarinet and 11 the organ.
- The average American man's head is a 7¼.
- 1 in 3 women is traumatized buying a swimming suit.
- 65 percent of Americans make an effort to eat vegetables in the cabbage family.
Confessions of a Workavoidic
I'm a workavoidic, the flip side of the workaholic coin. Homer Simpson is my patron saint. Work has always been a priority for me, just a low one. In order to work at all, I have to trick myself into thinking it's a game, which goes back to my first job at Auto Parts and Service, Inc., where I spent the best part of a working day hiding from the muffler moguls in the tailpipe bin. Needless to say, by the end of the day I was exhausted.
Workavoidics are the paranoids of physical effort. We think people are out to get usto work. And what's worse, for them. Workavoidics are idealistic: the notion of working for "superiors" flies in the face of our democratic ideals. It's not that we're too good to work, it's that we're not good enough. Years ago a guidance counselor (who, I realize now, was a closet workavoidic) diagnosed me as a perfectionist unable to deal with the shoddy work I produced. Torn with inner conflict, I feel compelled to take the afternoon
off and go home to snake the toilet. Beehives of activity give me hives. When I see a guy leaning on a shovel, I want to go over, prop him up with a two-by-four, and shake his hand. George W. Bush had the right idea: five hours a day in the saddle, topsany more and you end up being tied to it. I've thought about forming a support group for workavoidics, but it hardly seems worth the effort. Instead I've put together some tips for fence-sitters who really would like to be sloughing off but haven't gotten around to it.
I call these The Four Shortcuts:
- Delegate authority. All of it, if possible.
- Avoid pressing concerns unless your pants are involved.
- Use your time efficiently. Take a working lunch and eat as much paperwork as possible. Keep in mind the paperless workplace is a stepping-stone to the workless workplace.
- If you must work, remember that work equals force times distance: take a little work and make it go a long way.
Remember, no one ever got rich through hard work. If you insist on working hard, you do so at your own economic peril.