Sep 19, 2022

Raising One’s Voice Over “Quiet Quitting”

Some thoughts on the latest sandbagging saga

By Ed Goldman

Quiet Quitting” continues to trend everywhere, from corporate offices to fast-food drive-throughs. It’s when people don’t physically leave their jobs but remain and do the bare minimum to hang onto them. 

This is new?

Edgy Cartoon

The Bounds of Silence

Have you been to any number of public sector offices in the past 20 years, from post offices to DMVs and business-license renewal counters? 

In the private sector, how about smoothie joints, mini-mart gas stations (especially the ones that advertise “Mechanic on duty”), outlet stores, hotels, car rental agencies and (God-save-me-from) title companies?

Have you found yourself negotiating start-and-finish times with plumbers, home-repair contractors and (gasp!) babysitters? (We had a lot to say about the latter phenomenon in the 9/14/22 edition of The Goldman State.)

Laziness isn’t new, friends. And don’t lay it all at the crippling feet of COVID and it’s symbiotic buddy, the blocked-supply chain. The fact is, much of America stopped going to work a long time ago.

When bosses are scared to death of HR and inclusionary rules, from the pronouns they use to the compliments they pay, something is definitely rotten in the cotton of our social fabric.

No, I haven’t gone MAGA, Libertarian or AARP-y on you. I’ve just contracted that rare condition known as sanity—the one I’m guessing most of you caught as our society went from being The Greatest Generation to Looney Tunes in just a few decades.

Even so, I try to stay not only au courant but also impossibly hip—and it’s in this esprit I now present 10 spinoffs and alternatives to Quiet Quitting, complete with notes:

  1. NUANCED NAGGING. Stop telling your domestic partner to buy a wristwatch if he, she, they or it is or are never on time. Instead, start making little comments upon their arrival like, “Oh, is it Thursday already?” and “Thanks for giving me the chance to grow my beard back/hair out, Hon.”
  2. TACIT TROUBLEMAKING. Start being a little subversive (but not noticeably too much) at work by leaving news clippings on your co-workers’ desks that indicate which office HVAC systems are known causes of Legionnaires’ Disease. Make sure you find at least one article that mentions your own office’s system.
  3. SUBTLE SANDBAGGING. Learn how to fall asleep while sitting up at your desk in front of your computer with your eyes open and your face resting in your laced fingers. You may want to record yourself making thoughtful grunting noises like, “Well, I’ll be damned!” and “Is that right?!” Just be sure you turn off the live microphone so your thoughtful grunting won’t compete with your blissful snoring.
  4. UNSPOKEN UPROARING. It’s not a bad idea, if you work for a company with offices scattered throughout the country, to mention in the break room that “They finally called in the riot squad at our Spearfish, South Dakota branch.” When questioned, you can say you “saw it on YouTube” and “can’t seem to find it again.” It’ll be hours before someone reveals that your company doesn’t even have an office in Spearfish, South Dakota—but in the meantime, productivity should reach a new daily low. Make this a goal.
  1. HUSHED HATING. This one’s simple: Just practice seething with anger and exhaling ostentatiously. One of your office mates will ask what’s wrong and you can say, “Like you don’t know.” Pressed to explain, just say, “I’m not ready to talk about this.”
  2. MUTE MELODRAMATIZING. Wear a bandage on your forehead and when a colleague inquires about it, say you cut yourself shaving. If the colleague persists in wanting to know how you could have cut your forehead while shaving, just respond with mock-embarrassment, “Okay, I’m not proud of this: I stood on a chair. Now can we just drop this?”
  3. DISCREET DISSING. This may sound like an oxymoron but the easiest way to do this is to pick out someone who’s not at work that day and ask someone else why. When you’re told something like, “I think he’s taking a vacation day” or “She has a cold,” just roll your eyes and say, “Okay, if that’s the story, I’m cool with it.” Then say nothing else. You’ll be a very popular employee for much of the day, as people drop by to pump you for details.
  4. PRIVATE PREENING. At one time or other, we’ve all been caught at work checking ourselves out in a pocket mirror or turning our smartphone cameras on ourselves to see how we look at, say, 10:45 a.m. If you’re apprehended in this act of vanity, pretend to wipe a tear from your eye and mutter, “It’s back, I guess.” People will want to know what’s back and, more important, will run to their own mirrors and cellphones to see if they, too, have whatever it is.
  5. CONFIDENTIAL CONDEMNING. If your boss is seen leaving with someone neither you nor the rest of the office is familiar with, start a rumor that your boss is (a) being audited by the IRS “and we’re probably next,” (b) having an affair, regardless of the stranger’s gender or self-identification or (c) a finalist for the Nobel Prize in button-factory management. For veracity, ask if your co-workers also thought the stranger looked “vaguely Scandinavian.”
  6. RETICENT RECALCITRANCE. If your supervisor asks you to borrow a pencil or stapler, hand it over but with obvious regret. You can throw in a whispered, “I was afraid this day would come” but by all means, don’t elaborate. Let the supervisor think the worst—that you hate him or her, that you have a bizarre sentimental attachment to your pencil or stapler or, worst of all, that you’re quietly quitting.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).