You would never guess which occupation is the most popular and widespread in the whole wide world.
Hundreds of millions of people are involved in it every day, devoting endless hours to it. There is a lot of acting involved and a lot of effort going into it, to achieve a high level of authenticity. Some people start doing it in the morning and continue throughout the whole working day, sticking to it throughout the whole working week.
Go on, have a guess before everything is revealed here. What do many people do that sometimes takes more energy out of them than their direct responsibilities at work? Could it be chatting to others? Well, it does happen a lot but it doesn’t take that much effort, does it and no acting is needed? So no, it’s not that.
Eating? Nope, because most people don’t eat all day, do they? Although there are, of course, individuals blessed by a healthy appetite who chew something most of the time. Still, it’s not that widespread a phenomenon at the work place.
Thinking about sex? Nope, because it doesn’t really involve that much of an effort and, even if we believe all that so-called scientific research that claims that fascination with sex is supposedly overwhelming in humans, it still doesn’t require any serious dedication.
So, the most popular occupation at the workplace has nothing to do with eating, or talking, or thinking about sex. And it has nothing to do with browsing on the Internet or playing computer games, by the way, because, first of all, not that many people have uninterrupted access to computers at their workplace and, secondly, it does not really take a lot of effort to do both of these things – browse on the Internet and gaming, I mean.
Do you give up? OK, I won’t hold you in suspense any longer. The most widespread occupation in the world is pretending to be doing something while actually doing nothing. Yep, that’s the most widespread occupation in the world and people of all profession are involved in it: from the top executives in multinational companies and banks, politicians and senior civil servants to clerks, secretaries, company managers, policemen and – lower down – to builders, shop assistants, waiters and even street cleaners. It’s such a wide group of people that you’d be right in thinking that we are probably talking about two thirds of the world’s population, or maybe even more.
Pretending to be busy needs a lot of effort. In fact, sometimes, it needs more effort than carrying out the job itself. Because you really have to be very good at it to convince other people that you are actually doing something while in reality you are not doing a thing.
A large proportion of big businessmen and bankers, who claim to be overwhelmed with work, are in reality not that busy at all. And the same thing goes for many other ‘very busy’ people, including hundreds of professions. Obviously, politicians lead the way in this, closely followed by government officials of all levels, top military brass and many others.
And lower down the social ladder there are millions of people involved in hundreds of professions who are renowned for their ability to pretend that they are busy. Shop assistants are very good at it when you need them. They always seem to be ‘serving a client’ when you approach them. Waiters are also very good at having that purposeful look in their eyes when you are trying desperately to attract their attention. Builders are notorious for pretending to be building something and many secretaries have perfected the skills of pretending to be busy all day while actually not doing much at all. Even cops nowadays are so busy that you don’t actually see them anywhere any more. They are so busy fighting crime they have become invisible.
There are, of course, people who can’t really pretend to be busy. These are nurses and doctors in hospitals, teachers at schools, workers at factories, miners, transport workers, printers and owners of most small businesses. And that’s why I’d like to salute them and wish that they never ever acquire the talent of pretending to be busy.
Let’s hear three cheers for these people.