Out Of Focus: Going La La On The Job

Version 2

You’ve got to feel a little bit sorry for the chap from PWC who, apparently (allegedly) too busy tweeting out insider pics of Emma Stone, failed to provide the right envelope for the subsequent Best Picture award at the Oscars.

He’s only human, right?

That said, he also only had one job to do, not the most complicated one one would imagine. Twenty four envelopes. Twenty four presentations. It might be the highest profile awards ceremony in the world, but it’s far from the most complex (just try the Sheen Lions Football Club Awards some time – that’s truly epic). 

Of course, when you turn your attention to the La La Land team, you’ve got to feel a lot more sorry for them (even more so having made those lifelong rehearsed speeches before having their moment of glory so unceremoniously swept away).

No wonder the Academy is now searching for the appropriate level of retribution.

It’s all it takes, isn’t it; a split second, a little lapse in focus, and BAM! – you’ve sent the wrong message, you’ve liked the wrong tweet, you’ve stepped out in front of the bus, you’ve handed over the wrong envelope.

There’s almost nothing that makes me crazier (the curse of my hyper-vigilance). The screen-scrolling colleague in a meeting; the waiter who fails to look up and scan the room; the barista who is more interested in catching their reflection in their shiny coffee machine than allowing you to catch their eye.


The worst, the very worst, the service encounter absolutely guaranteed to bring me to boiling point is the distracted taxi driver. Usually the object of the distraction is a red top newspaper (I have also encountered a cab driver who was playing some kind of World of Warcraft type game on a propped up iPad, no less).

Now, first off, taking a black cab in London is never a cheap option. Every second costs, whether you’re moving or not. So, when someone keeps missing the lights because they’re failing to look up from their paper in time, or is happily static in traffic when there’s clearly a clearer alternative route available because it gives them the chance to mull over the commentary on Claudio Ranieri, my blood pressure starts rocketing up faster than the meter.

It was the World of Warcraft guy that really got me. Having not only missed about three sets of lights in a row but also only narrowly avoided killing a couple of cyclists, if I hadn’t been so pressed for time (and, perhaps, if it hadn’t been raining) I would have just got out. Less inclined to that option, I went for retribution instead.

“Excuse me,” say I, “can I tell you what I do for a living?”

“What’s that then?” he replies.

“I’m a heart surgeon,” I lie, “and, one day, when you’re on my operating table and your heart is in my hands, you’ll be glad to know I’ll be fulling focused on my job and not simultaneously flicking through a magazine. Right now, my life is in your hands and I’d really appreciate you paying me the same courtesy. After all,” I add, “I am paying for it, aren’t I?”

He looked at me, in all fairness, a little shame-faced, and, rather than screeching to a halt and unceremoniously dumping me onto the rain-soaked street, said, “Fair point Guv, fair point,” and, for the remainder of my journey, didn’t look to the iPad screen once (I wonder if he wondered why I wasn’t being dropped near any hospital, but my lie remained unchallenged; my point had been made).

I don’t suppose I really made any difference, but I did feel satisfied that I’d made my point (and I have, in fact, used the same ruse again to equal effect).

Maybe it’s right the Academy makes an example of Ruiz, Cullinan and PWC.

The lesson: put away childish things. Focus. Concentrate. Do your job. You’re an adult. That’s why you have to have a job. Do that job.

If you don’t, you never know what price you – or others – might end up paying for your going a little la la on the job. Waiting a little longer for a coffee or the cheque might be a minor inconvenience. Watching a cyclist get mown down in front of you, or looking at that achingly gaping space on your mantelpiece for the rest of your life, may be of more major significance.

2 thoughts on “Out Of Focus: Going La La On The Job

  1. Hyper-vigilance is another quality we share…although to be fair to the barista, waiter and taxi driver, we are doing work we love and I am guessing they are not. Unfortunately, I’ve heard one too many stories about botched surgeries to think the culture of distraction only exists in the realm of menial labor. While technology has definitely opened the door to constant (often dangerous) distraction, a-way back in the olde days when I was waiting tables, I was also a hyper-vigilante waitress while many of my colleagues were decidedly NOT. So there is a an aspect of personality at play as well–it is meaningful that you and I would describe ourselves as “hyper-vigilant”, yes? But ultimately I suppose it boils down to simply being present…which your game playing taxi driver wasn’t. And he was behind the wheel of a deadly weapon. Much more serious affair than the poor chump with the wrong envelope, frankly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chump – I love that word. The perfect word for this guy! But you’re so right, it’s about being present. Paying attention was clearly something wired (or drilled) into us and I think I can honestly say, whatever job I’ve been in, I’ve always assumed I’m being paid to pay attention (I think some people, in all sorts of jobs, can easily forget this and think they’re paid to just show up!). Terrifying to think of the surgeons out there whose concentration frequently waivers.

      Liked by 1 person

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