Thursday, May 17, 2007

Worked To Death - Literally

An article was released today stating that “a record number of Japanese people literally worked themselves to death last year, despite campaigns to ease the country's notoriously long office hours. Some 355 workers fell severely ill or died from overwork in the year to March, the highest figure on record and 7.6 percent up from the previous year, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour said.”

You have to hand it to those Japanese business types; they really dedicate themselves to their jobs. Gotta drive that capitalist bullet train, ya know. Capitalism was our main contribution to the Japanese after we blasted the hell out of them in WWII. Call it a sympathy gift from one evil empire to another. We should have seen it coming, what with the extreme dedication the people of Japan have to their work ethic and sense of social unity.

According to the article, there has been an increase in part-time positions manned by people in their 20’s and 30’s. With youth comes greater energy, and the young are less likely to feel pressure and energy-drain from having kids and mortgages and such, factors that, I assure you from personal experience, slowly drain the energy from you like a Sith lord. There have been plenty of days I thought my kids and my job were killing me. Any day now I expect my coworkers to come in and find me collapsed onto my lab bench, the victim of work-induced heart attack, my dead-lab-rat drool mingling with spilled reagents. All those young people and their wicked energy means the older, more closer-to-death workers have to pump up their effort to compensate. Many of those who died were killed by stroke or heart attack, and I already have a heart condition.

But it’s not just the older Japanese who are suffering. Even the 20- and 30-somethings are seeing an increase in mental health problems. In short, they're being driven crazy by their work load.

A potential antidote for overworked Japanese? HERE

Let’s hope the Japanese work ethic doesn’t come here. I remember a few years ago, one particularly horrible slavemaster – I mean boss – that I had at the time actually suggested that we STACK lab benches, with one person working at the bench on the floor and another person on an elevated platform at a higher bench “like they do in Japan.” I’m not sure if he was telling the truth, but I shiver at the idea, even if it was do-able. Around that time an HR person, who was equally evil, proposed that the R&D teams go to nights shifts, too. Luckily they are both gone, now.

Lately I’ve been rebelling a bit and haven’t come in much at night or on the weekends. I just haven’t had the energy. I thought I was slacking, but now I have a legitimate excuse. “Sorry, boss, but I can’t come in this weekend. It may kill me!”

Did my heart flutter? Ooh, my arm just went numb. I'm . . . I'm . . . Gaackk! . . . .

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