Week in Drudgery

by Liz Cory & Lance Gloss

published February 18, 2016

Toils Not

Been considering the lilies? So has Joaquín García. And he’s had plenty of time to consider. 

Mr. García was employed as a water treatment engineer at Agua de Cádiz, a Spanish municipal water board, from 1990 until his retirement in 2010. He collected his paychecks all the while. But it seems that he had some trouble making it to work in the mornings. Says García, he grew sick of being bullied around the watercooler for his socialist politics. So, one day in 2004—or, according to some allegations, it was 1996—García didn’t show up for work. One day of leave became three; one week became two months. Cadiz got a new pump station; García read Spinoza. New employees cycled in and out; García took a bike ride. Nobody noticed his absence until 2010, when it was time to give him an award for 20 years of dedicated service. 

He could have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for the meddling Deputy Mayor, Jorge Blas Fernández. Mr. García was rudely interrupted from his leisure to suffer an extended court procedure which, last week, occasioned a fine of €27,000. Not bad, considering that this is only a year’s salary for an engineer at Agua Cadiz. Overall, it might be called a victory for persecuted socialists everywhere. And even with Joaquín García away from his desk, his department can proclaim that Cádiz “meets all State and Federal water quality standards for drinking water.” 

Anyway, garden manuals advise an inch of rainfall per week for most lilies. Given the proper climate, you don’t need to water them at all. – LG


Intelligent Recline

Are you sick and tired of pushing your own office chair back to the table? YEAH! Do you mourn the loss of precious energy spent literally just moving your chair a couple feet forward at the end of a meeting? UGH, TOTALLY!  Well, you’re in luck…introducing: “Intelligent Parking Chair” by Nissan, that generally ‘okay’ Japanese car manufacturer with way too much time on its hands.

We’ve all thought about it: wouldn’t it be great if my office chair could move autonomously? This week, Nissan released a YouTube video of the Intelligent Chair, a bulkier model of the ubiquitous office staple that showcases the “Intelligent Parking Assist” technology newly available in their cars. The chairs, much like the cars, are guided by a system of four motion-detection cameras positioned in each corner of the room that create a composite bird’s eye view image. Humans simply have to input their desired configuration for the chairs, and the Wi-Fi-controlled system will order each one back to its place when someone claps their hands.

Nissan’s explanatory video sets the scene: “The meeting is finally over, they are so exhausted that they forget about restoring chairs to their original state.” We watch from the viewpoint of cameras above as one man claps his hands and the quasi-robots whir straight to the table to settle in a perfectly aligned formation. Spatial harmony has been restored in the conference room. They may have a point: most real adult office meetings are so grueling they wipe your ability to remember that the thing you were sitting on like 10 seconds ago should probably be put back where you found it. Even so, one has to wonder: what’s the problem with chairs being left a little away from the table, anyway?

Shortly after the invention’s unveiling, Facebook was set ablaze with comments. Many bemoaned the product’s encouragement of laziness, while others wished Nissan would have pushed their tech further for a “self-making bed.” Several others pointed out the inevitable problem the whole clapping thing would pose any time someone concluded a presentation or expressed their appreciation for a company accomplishment. One man wrote, “If I see someone sitting on one of these, I’ll clap on purpose.”

Although Nissan thinks “office automation will accelerate further to support busy office workers,” some people worry it could be the insidious beginning of humanity’s demise. One woman exhorted “Get out of your chair and just WALK. The lazier our society becomes the more we will wind up like the movie WALLE! [sic]” Another man echoed her fear more explicitly: “Self parking office chairs are going to take our jobs!”

For better or for worse, it turns out these ‘intelligent’ recliners will not be available for purchase any time soon. They were merely Nissan’s way of saying “Hey guys, check out what cool technology our cars have!” It seems humanity will be just fine…for now. – LC