Thursday, January 18, 2007
White Collar Pet Peeves In China
Apparently, being a white collar worker in the People's Republic of China is no picnic either. Nonetheless, some artifacts of the white collar world annoy the Chinese more than others. Here is their list of the top four most despised "modern inventions":
1) Punch machines - Many white collar workers are required to punch time-clocks in China. During my early days in the working world as a retail worker and a card-carrying member of the RCIU, I used to insert my time card in the punch machine upon both arriving and leaving. That little thwonk would punctuate my day. I had never had to punch a time-clock during my days as a, ahem, "white collar worker" - but the Chinese apparently do. Perhaps it's because they're more straightforward over there, and don't pretend that white colar workers aren't wage slaves just like everybody else.
2) Noodles - Chinese white collar workers eat noodles for lunch, and most deplore it. The cheap but non-nutritious recourse to noodles should ring a bell with any American who - like my wife - has ever subsisted on a ramen diet. Supplement noodles with fast food or vending machine nacho chips, and you get the typical lunch hour fare of the Western corporate shill. I can't help but think that the noodles diet, consumed on the premises while one is at one's desk, is a by-product of the tyranny of the time-clock. Why bother to go out for a decent meal if you have to punch out and then punch in again?
3) Mattresses - This one threw me for a loop. Apparently, Chinese bosses allow white collar workers to keep mattresses in their cubicles or offices so that they can catch a few Z's during their long workdays. I wouldn't mind a mattress in my cubicle, to tell you the truth. I have mastered the art of falling asleep while seated on a swivel chair, sort of like Mr. Ed in his stable. The problem with a mattress is that it could be way too seductive, and no manager wants an office full of somnolent IT consultants getting paid by the hour, conscious or not. The Chinese seem to dislike having mattresses at the office because it gives their managers an excuse to work them around the clock to the detriment of their health. What puzzles me though is that, if Chinese white collar workers are so dependent on the time-clock, that implies that they, too, are paid by the hour - and why would their bosses want them to spend any of those hours snoozing? I guess you have to punch out when you get sleepy, and then punch back in again once you're awake...
4) Cellphones - The ubiquity of cellphones is a universal phenomenon, and kudoes to the Chinese for despising them. The twist here is that Chinese have identified something they call "mobile phone elbow", a repetitive motion injury that arises from holding a cellphone to one's ear for four hours at a time.
"White-collars' hated inventions" from China Daily