By Cecil Hoge
I was an only child and that may be part of the problem. My parents gave me quite a bit of freedom to do what I wanted and that allowed me to decide what I did not want to do. I did not have sisters or brothers to take up my valuable time, to play with or to ask me to do things. And that also gave me more leeway to be lazy.
Early on I developed a lack of interest in making my bed and cleaning up my room. When going to school I quickly learned that you could work hard or you could just coast. I chose to just coast.
I will say I worked hard to develop some skills. I liked to work with clay in class, build small wooden forts, drop water bombs out of our apartment window and raise my hand to attract taxicabs. My mother taught me early on how to hail taxicabs and I have been a fan of that up until the era of Uber. I have since adapted to the use of Uber by allowing someone else to input the needed instructions on their cell phone. That has a double benefit: they do the work and they pay.
I grew up in New York City and that encouraged an early use of taxicabs and a dislike of subways and buses. That is not to say that I was an inactive boy. I liked to ride my tricycle on the sidewalks near our apartment on East 92nd Street…that is until I took my tricycle down a hill and I found myself traveling faster than a tricycle should. The result was not pretty: I hurtled over a curb at the end of block, went airborne briefly, almost ran under oncoming car and acquired seven stitches in my chin.
That experience was an important life lesson: Watch your speed!
That did not mean that I sometimes did not make great efforts to accomplish important tasks. As an example of my grit and determination, I once walked 60 blocks as a young boy, buying 12 boxes of Cracker Jacks in an effort to obtain one Captain Video Ring. Success was obtained on the 12th box. This also taught me an important life lesson: Persistence can pay off!
When I got older and went to college, my father remarried and I acquired a brother. That worked out well since my brother stayed in New York while I spent six years trying to graduate from The University of Virginia…two years to flunk out, two years to get back in, two more years to graduate. As you can see from this last sentence, I did learn the value of persistence.
And here I have to say, I also learned another important life lesson. You can coast through college, but you can’t cut two thirds of your classes, party 5 days a week and avoid flunking out. In other words, I found out that there were limits to laziness and sometimes you must apply yourself if you wish to accomplish something. Of course, that did not teach me what I might want to accomplish, but it did teach me how to finish something.
It is is true that I have worked continuously for 54 years and there are some people under the impression that I work hard. And it is true that I work hard on the things that interest me but I am only able to do that because I delete or reduce many other tasks that other people consider important.
Considering the fact that I am inherently lazy, I had to develop a system of laziness. There are many self-help books, articles, and websites devoted to telling people how to avoid gout, catch fish, make money, lose weight, grow hair, invest in stocks, be wise, have clear skin, but there are no books or literature or information online devoted to tell people how to improve and refine laziness. I thought I might correct this omission and explain my system of laziness.
I would like to point, while it may sound simple, being lazy is a kind of art. The trick is to do as little as possible and still be able to accomplish some important things, like, for example, supporting yourself and your family.
Now there are people who are very successful at being lazy, but not at supporting themselves or their family. But I say, where is the percentage in that? Being lazy is quite uncomfortable if someone is trying to take back your car, delete your cell phone service, cut off your cable service, kick you out of your home. No, laziness is of no benefit if you cannot enjoy your laziness. And that means simply that you must have some way to get by in life without being a burden on yourself, your family or your friends.
In truth that means you must either be able to financially support yourself or get enough income from a liability lawsuit or a carefully planned marriage or well-designed prenup to be comfortable. And that should include all family members – your wife, husband and/or children – because who wants a whole bunch of people complaining all the time. Laziness is something to be savored, something to be enjoyed, it should not be impaired by other more mundane difficulties.
Considering the times that I have passed through, it is not always easy to employ my system of laziness. You have to be able to twist and turn and make adjustments according the times.
I have to insert here, when I was a young man I learned something very important about manufacturing efficiency and this proved helpful in refining a system of laziness. I was working in my father’s warehouse producing something called “AutoCast Fishing Rods”. There I found the secret of avoiding ”lost motion”. That is, I discovered that you could do the same thing two different ways and one way could be far slower and harder while the other way could be far faster and easier.
This taught me to always choose the faster and easier way.
When it comes to aches and pains, they say that motion is the lotion. But when it comes to efficiency, the less motion you expend in accomplishing a task, the better. When working on the fishing rod production line, I found the more economical your motions and more direct your actions, the more fishing rods you produced. I have since applied that technique in the pursuit of laziness.
Now, recently, a new development has occurred. The Pandemic came. While the Pandemic certainly had many terrible aspects, in one way, it proved to be a blessing in disguise. It truly upped my Lazy Game. Because the Pandemic altered many aspects in the way we work and live, it also opened new vistas in how to be lazy:
- Working from home. Oh, let me count the many ways and opportunities that little change made.
- Now, because you do not have to get up and drive to the office, you can sleep 30 to 60 minutes more. Even better, in most cases, you do not have to brush your teeth, shave your face or take a shower, although your partner may object to that if you do not shower after several days in row. You only have to dress from the the waist up – that saves a good 10 minutes a day. Yes, if you have some important Skype, Zoom or Microsoft meetings, it may be necessary to present yourself a little better – 2 or 3 strokes with brush through your hair should do it. Wear a shirt that appears to be clean and crisp. Maybe a swipe or two with an electric razor. Remember, some stubble looks sexy these days.
- And of course, because restaurants and bars are less well attended, all you have to do is eat and drink at home. That saves a whole lot of lost motion and keeps many a drinking person out of jail. Takeout: I have been a fan of takeout long before the Pandemic. For years, we provided significant income to some of our local eateries and delis by buying takeout. Recently, because of the Pandemic, local restaurants have added an excellent refinement. It is called ”Curbside Service”. Now, you can call in your takeout order, drive to a parking space just outside the restaurant, call the restaurant to let them know you are there and they will bring the order directly to your car door. Wow. That saves an easy 30 minutes a week. Now you may ask why not take this one step further and ask the restaurant to deliver the takeout order to your door, but here I must state there are limits to the benefits of laziness. Specifically, this invites the likelihood of the food arriving cold and clammy. I hate cold and clammy food, so I make the effort to pick it up while it is still hot and ready for consumption.
- Starting work in the era of Pandemic has been made easy with cell phones, PCs and laptops. In my case, it is just short and quick journey from my bedroom down the thirteen steps to my living room. I have taken over my favorite lounge chair in the living room as my office. It has an excellent view through large glass picture window out to my front lawn, my dock and the bay beyond. All that is necessary is to power up on my various digital devices and flip on the VPN. Voila, I am at zee office monitoring e-mails, reviewing incoming orders. Added perks – should the tide be rolling in and the weather conditions amendable, I can be out on the water paddling or just drifting on bay soaking up sun in just minutes. Should someone need to contact me cell or Skype, I can turn down the bluetooth speaker blasting some cherished rock song, pick up my oblong and say, ”What the hell do you want?” Actually, I am far more polite than that, but the point is that I can stay in touch on land or sea.
- There are some drawbacks to working from the comfort of my armchair… other people talking in the background can muddle an important call, my VPN, provide by our rotten cable service, has a tendency to drop out 5 or 10 times day. Here, I have to take a little blame. So far, I have not complained to the rotten cable service because I am too lazy to pick up the cell phone next to me.
- And of course, when working from home, you can schedule your own time. That means you can eat or drink when you want, put a log on the fire, take a sun break on the porch, go to the hardware store when you want, fix that loose doorknob when you want. These days they call that multi-tasking, but in my mind it really is improving work efficiency while being as lazy as possible.
- The Pandemic allows you to refine your diet while reducing time and effort. I would like to suggest the following 3 diet solutions for a quick and easy lunch – 1. P&J (aka, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) – open 2 jars, smear some of each on 2 pieces of bread and you got yourself real meal, 2. grilled cheese – alas, you do have to clean the frying pan, but preparation is quick and easy, 3. cereal – pull out a bowl, fill it up with cereal and pour milk, add sugar as needed. These simple lunch solutions are quick and easy, tasty and nutritious and clean up is almost simple as preparation. Plus, they not only save you time, they save you money. They are the proverbial Win, Win.
- The above are just a few of the ways the Pandemic has upped my Lazy Game.
But one should not forget the classics, so below I mention some other important classical methods to reduce and delete unwanted work:
- Wear a hat – Why? This avoids the necessity of combing or brushing your hair, since your hat safely hides the state of your hair. If you are not going to an office to work, you can complete many important trips to grocery stores, hardware stores, marinas and outdoor bars without ever removing your hat and revealing you are a disheveled slob.
- Never wash your car. It is best to depend on the Good Lord to send rain and do that for you. Should your car need more than the Good Lord’s assistance, take it to the local car wash. The time spent at the car wash reading magazines may to lead to some important discoveries about miracle diets, hair loss cures and new restaurants.
- Never mow your lawn. It is said that there is much pleasure to derive from keeping your lawn green and trim. That surely is true, but there is more pleasure in watching someone else mowing your lawn and keeping it green and trim.
- Do things in circles – instead of getting up to do one thing and then coming back to sit down, try to remember some of the 58 things your wife asked you to do and do one or two them on your way back to the chair. After all, if you are expending some energy to do one thing, it is not terrible to do one or two things more on the return trip. A good example of this is: if you are getting to bring your empty dinner plate back to the kitchen sink, remember to pick up a spoon and a pint of ice cream on your back. It’s a Win, Win.
- Do not do anything that may extend your efforts without added benefits. Using the example above of returning from your trip to the kitchen with a pint of ice cream, you may consider that you may not want to eat a whole pint of ice cream. If that is the case, you may ponder taking out a clean dish and a ice cream scoop to download a smaller serving of ice cream. Banish that thought. You have already acquired the tools you need to accomplish your task. Simply return to your chair, pop off the ice cream lid, dig in with your spoon and eat as little or as much of the pint as you wish. Of course, this does require a trip back to the fridge to put the remaining ice cream safely away. But as they say in exercise, ”no pain, no gain.” And remember, by following my advice, you have avoided the task of pulling out a clean dish, dirtying it up and later having to wash it. Trust me, your wife will be much happier about that.
Yes, the Pandemic has provided the lazy with many opportunities to up their game. And the fact that some activities are not always practical to do, such as dining indoors during a plague or going to Disneyland, is not as bad as it may sound. These are really just self-economizing opportunities to save gas, time, money and up your Lazy Game.