February 06, 2008


Over the years, Nick Coleman has treated us to some of the most head-scratching nonsense ever penned, and yet he continually manages to outdo himself time and time again, coming up with column ideas that would confuse even the most dedicated schizophrenic.

But this one is so bizarre, it's almost frightening:

During the final minutes of Super Bowl XLII, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning ran in circles like a chicken trying to escape the ax while somehow managing to stay standing and evade the brutes trying to pulverize him as he threw footballs that fluttered (just barely) into the arms of his frantic teammates.

That's a pretty retarded synopsis of the Super Bowl. Sure, it kind of, sort of, captures that one play--the Manning to Tyree connection--but generally speaking Manning's last winning drive was one of poise and control. But, this being a Coleman column, we're treated to the insight of a man who sees gloom and doom around every corner and who can't enjoy a Super Bowl without trying to glom onto the "BIGGER PICTURE," even when one doesn't exist.

It was a thrilling and exhausting performance that may have seemed familiar to millions of workers. Except for the new Cadillac and the MVP award Manning picked up, it looked a whole lot like just another a day at the office.

I'm sorry, but Super Bowl XLII didn't look ANYTHING like another day at the office. ANY office. To even make this kind of leap in logic is ridiculous right out of the gates, and yet here we are. It can only be a Nick Coleman column.

In fact, one of the best Super Bowl commercials was an ad called "Queen of Hearts" from careerbuilder.com. The spot featured an office worker's beating heart literally leaping from her chest and landing on her keyboard with a splat.

I'm sorry, where were we again? Scrambling chickens? Super Bowl?

In an environment where many workers fear they will leave their jobs carrying a pink slip or being carried on a gurney, a heart exploding from a chest is the visceral sum of all fears.

Times must be tough at the Strib, methinks. . .

But in the ad, the heart gets up on little feet (as its startled owner watches) and marches into the office of the lobster-eating, TV-watching, feet-on-his-desk slob of a boss.

My God, it's almost as if Coleman is TRYING to get canned.

Then the heart pulls out a sign: "I quit." The ad ends with a message steering viewers to careerbuilder.com and a more basic message:

"Follow Your Heart."

It's good advice, too.

How far are we into this column, and we have yet to encounter any sort of point whatsoever? You know what would make this column relevant, particularly to Minnesota readership? A reference to a British study!

According to a new study that surveyed 10,000 British white-collar workers for 12 years, workers are 68 percent more likely to die of heart disease or suffer heart attacks if they experience long-term job stress.

Or, hey, how about just LONG TERM STRESS? Did you know stress can lead to health problems? Even heart disease? It's true. It's even been reported for, oh, I don't know, several decades or so. But, this being a Nick Coleman column, it's apparently groundbreaking news.

And it isn't the older workers who are most affected. It is the younger ones, who have to put up with the stress for longer periods of time, while older workers retired.

Won't somebody think of the children?!

Job stress has become such a worrisome problem in the United Kingdom that Friday was designated Stress Down Day in Scotland, where a quarter of the workers are so stressed out at work that they dream of leaving the U.K. and moving abroad.

Uh, who doesn't dream of moving abroad? And why are we still talking about the U.K. here? Wasn't this originally about the Super Bowl? What the fuck is going on here? Editors! We need editors, STAT!

When even workers who live overseas dream of moving overseas, you know the workplace is a health danger zone.

Great. First they banned smoking in the workplace; now Nick Coleman is apparently advocating banning working in the workplace. Or something. It's so hard to figure out the point in many of his columns. Finding a point is like locating Waldo most times.

And according to the Associated Press, many businesses are reporting that "employees' stress levels are rising" as worries about a recession, the stock market and a collapse in housing values spread through the workplace. In that context, maybe it's no surprise that vital organs were hitting the floor during the Super Bowl.

That was, perhaps, the most nonsensical paragraph ever written.

In previous years, Super Bowl ads for careerbuilder.com featured the frustrations of working alongside annoying monkeys. But the ante has been upped: The American workplace is in do-or-die mode. And studies seem to back it up: Job stress is on the rise, and job satisfaction is on the decline.

Look, Nick, job stress is ALWAYS reportedly on the rise, and job satisfaction is ALWAYS reportedly on the decline, thanks largely to monkeys such as yourself, who are determined to spread the gospel of despair. You can ask practically any working Joe, myself included, if they'd like a different job, and until you reach the door of Bill Gates, chances are 80 percent or higher you'll get results that indicate people would like more job satisfaction. In an ideal work world, my job description would include Silly String wars in the hallway and roller coaster rides every half hour. Unfortunately, it's called WORK for a reason.

Over the past five years, the average workweek has grown by five hours -- an hour a day -- for both men (who work an average of 45 hours a week) and women (who average 40). It means less time with the family, fewer family meals, more junk food, less exercise and higher blood pressure for workers suffering stress on the job.

Oh, horrors! A 40 hour work week! Whatever shall we do? As for less exercise, I don't know what's stopping the rest of the working drones of the world, but I manage to take a time-out each hour or so and press out between 30 and 50 push-ups, and I don't really care who sees me. Junk food? Aside from my reliable Diet Pepsi, I leave the vending machines pretty much alone. It's about personal responsibility. Perhaps Nick's heard of it.

Various studies in recent years have shown:

I love when a journalist cites "various studies" without getting specific; it just engenders such trust.

• Forty percent of workers say their job is very or extremely stressful.

I'll say that, too, if I think I can wiggle a raise out of it.

• A quarter of the workforce feels burned out on the job.

Only a quarter?

• A quarter has felt like screaming while on the job.

Sounds like a pretty scientific study Nick was reading there.

• One worker even threw a telephone at a wall. OK, that was me, about 15 years ago. But I had a good reason.

Probably because he couldn't make the switch from radial to touch-pad dialing.

Today, the workplace is under pressure from a stumbling economy and corporate cost-cutting: Many companies have fewer employees to do the work. And workers, hoping for promotions, fearing for their job security or needing to earn overtime to make ends meet, are working longer and longer days.

Yeah, it's called a job, not play time. And it's not a right.

Longer days mean shorter nights. And sleepless ones.

According to Nick Coleman, who knows stuff.

And while workers toss and turn, they can fret about the rest of the economic picture:

Annnnnd, cue the pabulum you've been hearing for pretty much your entire lives:

Home prices are down, gas prices and the cost-of-living are soaring, the stock market is wobbly and the dollar is weakening. But relax, workers!

The government is going to give you a tax rebate to help jump start the economy. Why, a family with three kids could get as much as $2,100 back - just about 20 percent of the long-term bill for the war in Iraq that they will pay later.

And there it is! An Iraq war reference! From Eli Manning and the Super Bowl and scrambling chickens and eight gazillian other unrelated tangents, all the way back to the Iraq war! It's like trying to read "The Da Vinci Code" backwards, in Pig Latin.

Oh, well.

Breathe deeply. Eat healthful meals, exercise and enjoy life.

Thanks! I will! I do! Perhaps you should do the same, you moping, fear mongering grouse. What was your point again? Oh, that's right, you didn't have one.

Before your heart shows you out the door.

My heart's just fine, thanks.


Posted by Ryan at February 6, 2008 08:06 AM | TrackBack
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