The mystery of the daytime idle

The mystery of the daytime idle: Why aren't you working?
Because look out your window. Who are these people? At any given hour on any given workday, well, it turns out it's not a workday at all. Not for these hordes roaming free, anyway. By rights our parks and movie theaters and stores should be minor ghost towns between 9 and 5 -- chanced upon by the occasional tourist or late-night bartender but otherwise peaceful. Instead, they're inexplicably packed. I didn't doubt that the packers had sound explanations. I just wanted to hear them.

BY THE WAY, I am not interested in how you spend your day. Sheesh.

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28 Responses:

  1. nightrider says:

    Ok... you're starting to freak me out a little. I was just finishing that article when I decided "hey, I should check LJ".

    Jinkies, Scoob!

  2. twiin says:

    This reminds me of a newspaper article I read from the 40s where the editor went up to all the 18-24 year old men wandering around time and demanded to know why these SLACKERS weren't in the army serving their nation.

  3. ammonoid says:

    During the year I spent out of work I wondered exactly the same thing. I would be out getting coffee or looking for bargains and see tons of people, not working. Couldn't figure it out.

    • korgmeister says:

      Exactly the same here.

      It's actually kinda cool to learn that this whole Mon-Fri 9-5 thing isn't actually all there is.

      Which is lucky in my case, because that world wants nothin' to do with me despite my best attempts to break into it.

  4. ammutbite says:

    Personal explanation-I'm a free-lance translator. This means days of idle time-wasting interspersed with rush jobs and not leaving the computer for 48 hours straight.

  5. Maybe they all decided to burn some bridges.

    And off I go to a cafe.

  6. browse says:

    As one of the "daytime slackers", I'll chime in.
    My salary/expenses balance is such that I can afford to only work half time. I highly recommend it.

  7. mackys says:

    What, no "I blew my dot-com stock riches on a nightclub" explanation? ;]

    (Of course, I'm only complaining because I'm jealous...)

  8. stellaspike says:

    It's that some people finish work really early or really late. The best way to avoid outside world crowds on week days is to do everything (errands, shopping) before noon or after 7 pm. I reget it everytime I break this rule.
    I have told over folks about it, and they too, notice the difference.

    • I'll chime in --

      I just finished with graduate school, and I have just enough tutoring gigs and freelance editing work to keep me fed through the fall.

  9. pygmalion says:

    Having worked in bars and clubs for over a decade, I have come across the confusion a night schedule causes in 9-5-ers.

    They find out I don't usually get out of said bar till hours after it is closed because of cleaning and closing and they always say things like "If you are not out of here till morning, then when do you sleep?" When I tell them "During the day" they are absolutely flabbergasted. They can not comprehend. Then I explain things like "You go to the grocery store or gas station on your way home from here, when do you think those people sleep and do their errands and go see movies? And the hospitals and the fire stations and the police force - staffed with night workers who live opposite schedules". It always struck me funny how speechless this leaves many day people who have no comprehension outside their usual.

  10. lifelike001 says:

    hell yeah ill chime - im a useless piece of street grease on a disability pension. and i walk the streets 9-5 looking for people to verbally assault or rob. ok some of that was just what i WISH i was doing with my life.. which makes me an even bigger loser. i aspire to suck.

  11. gordonzola says:

    I can't believe people are still writing that same article. The Bay Area is a mix of post-industrial service economy and tech, duh. I've worked a weekend day my entire adult life.

  12. keimel says:

    The real wonder is why this writer is so bloody out of touch that he has to wonder who these people are. Is he that fscking clueless that he wonders? Or could he simply be playing dumb for the sake of the article? Among the daytime people I end up talking to (I'm 'consulting' now) are newspaper writers, college students, people who simply don't NEED to work anymore, retired people, etc. There are a few that are 'night crew' people too, but they're only the afternoon, not morning people that I see.

    I shake my head at writers like this.

  13. carbonunit says:

    I recently switched to a 3 day working week. I was earning far more than I need to live on, all my thrills are cheap, so I decided to trade money for time and reclaim a couple of days a week from The Man. Today, I'm decanting a gallon of home brew orange wine and trying to sew a leopard print velvet smoking jacket. Sometimes I walk around town, or build bookcases out of recycled lumber and old wooden doors. I'd rather live a bit cheaper now doing all these fun things, than lie dying of stress related diseases before I'm 70 wishing I hadn't wasted so much time sitting at work.

  14. nathanrsfba says:

    A lot of them might be working jobs in retail where, not only do you not necessarily work 9-5, but you don't necessarily even work monday through friday.

  15. prog says:

    Two years ago I quit my last salaried job to launch a startup. After about a year of money failing to materialize from the air, I subsidized its continued operation by selling my services as a hacker-for-hire, specializing in web applications - the same work I'd been doing for a paycheck since 1998. Though I have a weekly quota of hours to meet, I still work whenever I bloody well feel like it, and there is no better office space than my own apartment and neighborhood.

    So most any day, there I am walking around in broad daylight with the rest of Slacker Nation. It is a lifestyle I would recommend to anyone who shares my skills, experience level, and loathing for having a boss who is not oneself. The startup is optional.

  16. skreidle says:

    Ooh.. I went to the same high school as the author of that article, and have a signed copy of the book mentioned in the author bio, though I haven't read it yet.

    As for me, I'm daytime idle because I work on call, and as long as I have my cell phone and am not more than an hour or so from home, I'm available for work. :)