Chances are you're doing it right now: Slacking. Procrastinating. Reading this Cracked article with your cursor placed on a work-related tab, prepared to click away should your boss walk by. We've all done it at some point -- but there are a few people who have taken the time-honored tradition of slacking and raised it to levels of epic proportions.
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The Job Description
Besides having the honor of sharing a name with a failed presidential candidate, Howard Dean was the food services director at the Department of Correctional Services in New York, running a facility that provided meals to 57,000 inmates. For nearly two decades, Dean put your tax money to good use by tirelessly feeding the hell out of those inmates, day in, day out, eight hours a day, four days a week.
Four days a week? Oh, that's right -- Howard Dean didn't do Fridays. Ever.
And Thursdays were the company "nap days."
The guy didn't just skip one work day a week for 17 years without telling anyone: To avoid getting caught, he also charged his employer (you know, the U.S. government) $240,000 in gas money for some nonexistent trips to and from the state's Food Production Center. And because pretending to travel long hours by car can get pretty exhausting, he also got paid for 75 bullshit hotel-room stays at the Quality Inn. All in all, Howard Dean's 17-year streak of three-day weekends cost taxpayers half a million dollars.
The most unbelievable part of this story? The fact that nobody noticed.
"That's Howard -- he's invisible near weekends, due to a gypsy curse."
In fact, all of this came to light only after Dean's retirement, when someone in administrative noticed that the $57,381 in state pension money he was drawing may not have been going to the most deserving of candidates. A criminal investigation was launched, and Dean admitted submitting tons of fraudulent time cards. We're not sure what's going to happen to him now, but at least he can rest assured that wherever he's going, he'll be well-fed.
And prison doesn't even have casual Fridays.
The Job Description
As a sales coordinator for Sheraton Hotels in Elkhart, Iowa, 25-year-old Emmalee Bauer was responsible for providing secretarial and administrative support, reporting directly to the director of sales and marketing, and handling all group inquiries either generated by the direct sales associates or by other booking channels -- riveting stuff. You could write a 300-page book about how boring this job was. While pretending to do it.
So that's exactly what Emmalee Bauer did.
As soon as Bauer realized that her job in sales coordination was not a good career fit for her, she did what most people in her situation would do: She began spending her entire workday writing about the fact that she wasn't working.
Since this is how many of us spend our workdays, none of us can judge her too harshly.
This method of procrastination turned out to be extremely effective, since the act of enthusiastically typing on her work PC about how much she hated working totally created the appearance that she was, in fact, working. She was effectively being paid for moving her fingers eight hours a day.
"Good job on having hands, Emmalee. Keep it up."
Thus, the 300-page Laziness Journal was born. That's 300 pages in single-spaced, regular-size font, not in bullshit "biology school paper" format. Day after day, Bauer came into work, sat down at her computer, opened her Laziness Journal file and mused on the subject of being a slacker while appropriately avoiding any of the work she was being paid for. An excerpt from the book:
"This typing thing seems to be doing the trick. It just looks like I am hard at work on something very important. I am going to sit right here and play Elf Bowling or some other nonsense. Once lunch is over, I will come right back to writing to piddle away the rest of the afternoon."
"Maybe I'll write slash fanfic about Elf Bowling."
Apparently playing Elf Bowling was not a safe way to goof off at work, because Emmalee Bauer was eventually caught and fired, with her Laziness Journal coming to national attention during her unemployment hearings. Yep, she actually had the nerve to go before a judge and appeal for unemployment benefits after writing 300 pages full of reasons why she didn't deserve them. On a work computer.
We don't know if Bauer has published her book yet, or if she ever will. For all we know, entire sections of it could be at the same level as Jack Torrance's novel in The Shining.
Except in this case, the "All work" part wouldn't really be accurate.
The Job Description
The Japanese agriculture ministry is responsible for overseeing the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries in Japan. We would be indulging in a tired cliche if we told you it is also in charge of giant robots fighting with one another, so we won't say that ... even though, for a while there, it looked like it totally was.
Between 2003 and 2007, an alarming number of the ministry's employees spent considerable amounts of work time on something completely unrelated to agriculture, forests or fish: Wikipedia edit wars. Most of them about the popular anime and toy series Gundam.
Giant robots: Way more exciting than trout.
Within that four-year period, one employee alone contributed 260 times to the Japanese-language Wikipedia entry on Gundam. Five other employees were verbally reprimanded for repeated contributions to other Wikipedia articles on subjects such as Japanese movies, local politics or typographical mistakes on billboards. Granted, if there's one government that should pay more attention to what's on billboards, it's probably Japan's, but this was still pretty ridiculous.
Meanwhile, the neglected fish the department was supposed to be looking out for
began to evolve and march on downtown Tokyo.
The Gundam guy was apparently the worst, but he was by no means the only one suffering from a severe case of Wiki-fever: Together, various other employees in the same ministry contributed to a total of 408 Wikipedia entries while at work. That's more pages than the website of the place they worked in seems to have. It got to the point where the minister of agriculture himself, Tsutomu Shimomura, had to step in and clear up what had apparently become a common misconception, publicly stating: "The agriculture ministry is not in charge of Gundam."
"That would be the transportation ministry. Come on, people."
Despite the minister's efforts, however, the Japanese agriculture ministry will forever be linked to Gundam, and vice versa, as demonstrated by the fact that they're both mentioned in each other's Wikipedia entries.
The Job Description
If we told you Joseph Winstead was the laziest mailman in the world, you'd probably assume he dumped the mail in trash cans instead of delivering it, or maybe took it home and burned it in a fire pit (like this guy used to do). You'd be wrong. Winstead went much further than that. He figured out a way to stay home all day, not even touching the mail he was supposed to deliver: fake jury duty.
In October 2003, Winstead was chosen for jury duty. He actually served on the jury for a couple of months -- getting a paid leave of absence from his job to do so -- but quickly found out that there were many days when the jury did not meet. It was on these days that Winstead realized another thing: His bosses didn't seem to notice the difference between the days when he was actually serving on the jury and the days when he was just sitting at home, getting paid to eat Doritos.
We, the jury, find this chip delicious!
And so, for the bulk of an entire year -- 144 workdays in total -- Winstead enjoyed a paid vacation from his job as a mailman, probably keeping his co-workers convinced that he was trapped in a yearlong version of the plot of 12 Angry Men.
We assume he's the one on the far left with the grease-stained shirt.
Winstead's scam went on without a hitch that first year, but then, since he'd done such a bang-up job the first time around, he was called for jury duty again. A huge fan of pushing his luck to unreasonable limits (and not so big on the whole "honest work" thing), Winstead decided to give his scam a second go. But this time, his supervisors realized something funny was going on and launched an investigation that ultimately led to Winstead being sentenced to prison. He was also ordered to pay the Postal Service $38,923.95 in compensation, a fair numerical measurement of how much his story pissed the jury off.
The jury's suggestion that the defendant should be forced to "eat a bag of dicks" was sadly dismissed.