Monday, June 23, 2008

The "Busyness" Fallacy

I have several theories about people who always claim to be “busy.” First, however, I’ll give you a rather cryptic version of the situation that motivated this little screed I’m about to offer.

A month or so ago, I wrote this post about a friend of mine who was being treated unfairly. Unfortunately, I have nothing new to report, because he’s still being treated unfairly. Because I can’t get into specifics here, I have no real way to get across how much it galls me to see this happening. This is one of those cases where everyone can see that what’s going on is wrong, yet there’s nothing anyone can do or say to change things because there’s only one guy pulling the strings of unfairness, and his decision to act entirely for his own benefit – disregarding the “needs of the many” - has already been made.

What bothers me most about this situation is that there’s little I can do to help, other than calling attention to the fact that the guy who’s screwing over my friend is a corrupt asshole with no regard for anyone but himself. Even this – the process of calling attention – has proven to be difficult, because in trying to enlist the help of someone who’d actually expressed some interest in rectifying things, I unwittingly ran headlong into the time-vortex of the sort of person to whom I like to refer as a “busy guy.”

A “busy guy” is someone who’s constantly lecturing you on how little time he has to do anything – which would be fine if the “busy guy” in question actually had a job that entailed having serious responsibilities. With busy guys, however, this typically isn’t the case. Most busy guys I know have no responsibilities at all. They just try to make you – and everyone else, including themselves - think they do. A friend of mine recently called this phenomenon “settling into a life of busyness.”

It’s a trap. The “busy guy” trap.

The “busy guy” in this instance is a member of the media who’s responsible, two or three times a week, for approximately two typed paragraphs of information in a local newspaper. For this, he went to college.

I could do this blindfolded, with a pen strapped to my penis, but I’m still working the door of a nightclub. Go figure.

I was told by this very busy guy that he needed to wait until he had a day off before he’d have time to call me regarding this matter, despite the fact that he’d written an accuracy-free article about it the day before I first contacted him. I found this strange for a variety of reasons. First off, I’m what you might call “a source,” so you’d think it’d behoove a journalist to contact me during his working hours – especially since the information to which I’m privy has direct relevance to something he’d published.

It’s the “busyness” angle that really fascinates me, though, because I’ve been running into it a lot lately with people I deal with. I can only think of two reasons why someone would claim to need a day off to engage in a ten minute phone call:

1) Because they really are engaged with work, full time, eighteen hours per day. From the moment they wake up until the moment they fall asleep, this man’s life belongs to someone else. If this is the case, I have a ton of respect for the amount of work he’s doing in order to pump out those precious six paragraphs each week. Proportionally speaking, each word in his articles must require a minimum of an hour of research. This, my friends, is truly impressive.

2) He doesn’t care.

Since I’m not mentally retarded, I’m well aware that option #2 is the case here, which pisses me off because it’s fraught with dishonesty – both to me and to himself. Why can’t people simply come out and tell you they’re no longer interested in what you have to say? I mean, I know I’m always full of unsolicited advice on this website, but here’s some I think you should take:

Don’t do this.

When you avoid contact with people by sanctimoniously lecturing them on how busy you are, it’s disrespectful. What you’re saying, in essence, is that the person to whom you’re speaking has no understanding of what it’s like to be as “busy” as you are. This, to me, is a defense used by people who have no idea what it’s like to actually work for a living. They don’t know shit about shit, and they project their ignorance on us, assuming we don’t know shit about shit either.

What kills me about these types is that I know people who actually are busy that don’t do this. One of my friends is a very prominent surgeon here in New York. If you know me personally, you’ll know to whom I’m referring. How anyone could possibly work more hours in a day than this person does, I have no idea, yet she has never once, in over a decade of knowing her, used “busyness” as an excuse for not getting back to me. She pretty much just returns my calls.

In other words, I know fucking trauma surgeons with more free time than some of the dime-ass, small-timer journalists, personal trainers and bouncers I know.

And yes, asshole, this is directed at you.