Monday, March 2, 2009

Institutional obsolescence.


When you've spent as much time in airports as I have you begin noticing things, petty stupidities that, for me, illuminate the larger stupidities that mark our life and times.

At virtually every airport there are doors and passage-ways that are intended for exit only. But, of course, if you're bent on bringing down a jumbo jet you could sneak in via one of those exits. So posted by those exits are "security guards" who are meant to make sure that no one sneaks in and then brings down the entire West by carrying four ounces of liquid.

Here's the question. Has no one heard of the entry and exit cages like we have in the NY City subway? Is is really so impossible to design a one-way door that we're better off having somnolent low-wage workers sprinkled throughout the airport? Or are we as a society willing to spend 10X to compensate for 1x's worth of infrastructure dumbness?

It occurs to me that in virtually every company there's a decent percentage of people who are employed in an analogous manner. That is they work to compensate for some structural dumbness that management doesn't want to address.

I guess there's some job advice here, something I learned early on in the business. If you're a creative, is your work on the agency's reel? Are you helping win business? Are you indispensable (or nearly so) to a client?

Or are you spending the day making sure doors don't work two ways?

3 comments:

Bob Hoffman said...

Geo:

You're missing a key point here. About half of America is currently employed in "sitting around" jobs. As you astutely point out, the epicenter of "sitting around" jobs is your local airport. This is a key part of our economic recovery package.

With no actual commerce to be conducted, "sitting around" is a vital component of the American economy which, thankfully, we are far better at than lower paid workers in India and, consequently, is not likely to be outsourced.

By the way, the other half of American workers are empoloyed in "standing around" jobs.

geo said...

I'm not going to take this laying down.

Anonymous said...

In Canada, our security guards aren't legally allowed to be armed. They carry a baton and some cuffs, but no guns. So it scares the living crap out of me when I visit the U.S. to see those great, big, bungling guards packing heat. They look like they haven't walked over 10 feet in 10 years, so lord knows what they'd do if they ever needed to pull out that gun...