Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lazy: Welcome to Grad School

“How can you eat that?” she asked. “It’s stone cold. All you needed to do was put it in the microwave for fifteen seconds."

“Still warm,” I said, mumbling between mouthfuls. “No problem.”

“You are the laziest person I have ever seen,” she said.

“Do you know the difference between strategy and tactics?” I asked.

“Oh, please,” she said.

“I’m not strategically lazy,” I said. “I’m tactically lazy.”

It’s true. From Wikipedia:
Strategy and tactics are closely related. Both deal with distance, time and force but strategy is large scale while tactics are small scale.

Exactly. In a large scale sense, I’m a hard worker. On the small scale, though, I am the laziest person alive. I’m like a diorama of lazy.

Here’s one more example. Today, for lunch, I wanted something I could snack on while I wrote the column, but I also wanted some kind of meat. I put some crackers on a paper plate, then opened the fridge and tore off a hunk of cheddar cheese. Still, though, I wanted some meat.

“Maybe I’ll get some ham,” I said to Gloria. That way, I could make kind of an at-home version of a Lunchables. When I opened up the drawer in the fridge, though, I saw that it was thick-sliced ham, not deli style.

“Man,” I said. “Thick-sliced.”

“You can cut it up,” Gloria said.

“If I take out a knife and start cutting that ham into squares, I might as well be making a pot roast,” I said. “Doesn’t anyone make tearable ham?”

“Oh, good grief,” Gloria said.

“I think I’ll just have a package of peanut butter crackers,” I said. “Those are already made.”

You might think I was born this way, but you’d be wrong. It’s not a gift. I’ve studied for many years. You have to earn lazy, because lazy is just too lazy to come to you.

That’s when it hit me: this is what I know. I’m a subject matter expert. I’ve always wanted to teach, so why don’t I teach what I know?

Sure, some of you probably think you’re already lazy. Not so fast, my friend. You may have an undergraduate degree in Lazy, but this is lazy at the doctoral level.

I promise you this: I will teach you more than you ever believed you could learn, just so you can do less than you ever believed you could do.

I believe in a real-world, gritty approach to teaching, so for today’s curriculum, let’s examine a common situation and its laziest possible outcome. Yesterday, I ate two Pop-Tarts as a snack while I was in my study. The Pop-Tarts were resting on a paper towel on my desk. My favorite way to eat Pop-Tarts is to break off pieces and eat the pieces individually.

Less to lift, obviously.

However, I noticed that after I had finished the Pop-Tarts, there was a residue of crumbs on the paper towel. Given the light weight of both the paper towel and the crumbs, there was a high probability of these crumbs winding up on the floor—if I didn’t do something about it.

So what should I do?

Let the crumbs fall to the floor.
Sorry, you must have walked in here by mistake. This is Lazy post-graduate studies, not Slob. Besides, if the crumbs wind up on the floor, you will eventually have to vacuum the floor. That’s one step away from stripping and refinishing them. Doctors in Lazy never avoid small tasks if they create larger tasks for later.

Lick your finger, pick up the crumbs with your damp finger, and eat them.
Look, I know that you’re all proud of yourself because you get accepted into the Doctorate Lazy program, but these are advanced studies. Do you want to excel? Of course you do. And if you want to excel, you have to think outside the box. This does get rid of the crumbs, but it just takes way too much effort.

There are other answers—all bad ones—but let’s cut to the chase here, because doing so is the laziest possible way to present this material.

Lick the crumbs off the paper towel.
Now that’s just beautiful. No fingers, no lifting, just direct mouth-to-crumb contact. That’s how the elite lazy handle this situation.

I know. Some of these concepts are cutting edge. I’m not regurgitating the old wisdom—I’m pushing the theoretical boundaries of lazy. It will all be worth it, though, when you’re awarded your doctorate and then skip the graduation ceremony because it would take too much effort to attend.

I’ll be so proud.

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