The Lazy Co-Worker

I’m sure you’ve all worked with this person once or twice in our lifetimes, and if you haven’t, then odds are pretty high that you’re the person I’m about to rant on. This is the man or woman who does nothing during the business day except make your own job harder.
While I’m usually a pretty tolerant person, today I have to blow off some steam or else I’m going to blow up at my current Lazy Co-Worker. Let me start by telling you a little bit about my job.
I work on a support desk. (Yes, it’s as thrilling as it sounds!) We man the phones and the incoming calls rotate through us. This rotation is simple. The person who has been idle the logest takes the next inbound call. Calls lead to work orders, and each employee has their own queue of work orders that need attention. Should a call come in while all four of us are unavailable to answer, it rolls over to the dispatch group and they put the work order in a group queue.
I’m the top closer on my team. (Oooooh. Who wants to touch me?) This isn’t really a huge deal, because I’m not very far ahead of the guy in second place, and the other two behind us are both relatively new employees. My queue stays pretty clean, with an average of only four work orders in it at the end of the day. The other “veteran” keeps his queue around eight. The two new employees are pretty consisitently over ten each. In their defense, the job of support is notrious for having poor training. You can teach someone how to use the program, but it’s much harder to teach them how to fix it when it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.
So back to my original point, which is Mr. Lazy. Mr. Lazy was hired about eight months ago, and I was assigned to be his mentor. In the beginning, he was eager to learn. He was writing everything down on 3×5 index cards. He had a sense of humor, easy to get along with, and seemed to be the sort of teammate we needed.
Over time, I began to notice that he was asking the same questions. I’d help him, and he’d write up a notecard on it. Curious, I checked his notecard box while he was at lunch one day. The notes were correct, but he had about five or six notecards for each problem, each of which had the same procedure on them. He hadn’t been referring to his notecards at all before asking his questions. Why look it up when you can ask someone else to walk you through it?
So I drew up a quick index of the issues his library of cards covered, and made my own note (mental, of course) to ask him to refer to his index cards next time he came to me for assistance about one of those problems.
This worked for about an hour. Then he just stopped asking me for help and went to the other long-timer. At the end of that day, I let the other guy know the trick, and we agreed to back each other up in requiring a card search before offering assistance. The next day, when he was sent to his box of help, he made a visible effort to find the card for an issue I knew existed in there. He looked up after a minute and said he didn’t have that one. Now, having made an index, I knew it was in there, so I went over and looked in the box for him, found the card, and handed it to him. He gave me a look that still makes me laugh when I think about it. IT was the look of someone who knew they’d been caught in a lie.
Being a creative lazy person, Mr. Lazy moved on to new methods of loafing. Three bathroom breaks in the morning, for example, and then his “official” fifteen minute break. The morning is the busiest time for inbound calls, and each time he walks from his desk, he has to set his phone on Not Ready. This means when he returns to his desk, he becomes the last in line to receive a new call. We started monitoring this bathroom behavior, and the results were not surprising.
When the first three calls come in and are answered, making him next to receive a call, he would go to the bathroom. During the lunch shift, he modifies this slightly, because there’s only one other person on the phone (me). So when I answer a call during the lunch break, he goes to the bathroom.
Once we were wise to this new scheme, we began waiting for him to return from his little strolls and then we other three would click our Not Ready buttons and immediately turn them back off. This way, he still gets the next call and we’re all still ready if more than one come in.
Yet another fun part of working with Mr. Lazy is that a lot of our work orders require obtaining faxes from our customers. I keep these faxes neatly organized in two folders. One folder is for work orders currently open. The other is for work orders closed within the past two weeks. (In case someone calls back about the same issue.) His filing system is quite different. I call it the “Where the Fuck Did I Put That?” filing system.
Mr. Lazy’s desk is literally covered with faxes. There are no piles or stacks. It’s just a tablecloth of papers upon papers. He doesn’t throw any of them away, so there are faxes from four months ago mixed in with faxes from today, and the single pages of multi-page faxes are never grouped with their mates.
Now it’s common for customers to call and request the status of an existing work order. When they do this, we will look at that work order and see if it’s something we can help with. (After all, if you can close an extra call, it makes your numbers look better. And top closer gets a handy-dandy tote bag! Who wouldn’t want that?) When his customers call back, we no longer even try to look for the fax. We just ask them to fax it again.
So to all you hard workers out there, know that you are not alone. There are Mr. and Ms. Lazies everywhere you go

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