RE: Stupid tasks (was Re: NEED HELP..PLEASE RESPOND)

Subject: RE: Stupid tasks (was Re: NEED HELP..PLEASE RESPOND)
From: "MM Deaton" <mmdeaton -at- mmdeaton -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 16:26:21 -0700


I owned my own business for six years and hired technical writers, editors,
developers, designers and others. We expected people to take turns tidying
the kitchen because they all used it. And people who drank coffee usually
made more coffee if the pot was empty. They never did this because I told
them to. They did it because it is polite. I NEVER asked people to do
janitorial or clerical tasks unless I was paying them to be a janitor or a
clerk. It was not a big company, but if menial tasks needed to be done, my
partner and I did them, not our staff. I hire a writer to write, not make
coffee or empty the garbage. I hire other people to do that.

I think it is an insult to professionals to order them to do menial chores
around the office.

Mary Deaton
Deaton Information Design
New jobs page at:

Dick wrote:

Sharon Burton-Hardin wrote:

>Always do stupid tasks badly with a smile. You will not be asked again.

Excuse me?

Look. The coffee needs to be made. The recycling bins need to be wheeled to
the loading dock. The sink needs to be wiped out. The juice cooler needs to
be restocked. [Intentional and appropriate use of passive voice going on

If it is beneath your dignity to take your turn at these tasks, just whose
dignity is it above?

I am so fed up with the Not My Job attitude I could scream. Everywhere I
have worked (at least in the last decade or so), some people pitched in and
some people didn't. Each group crossed gender lines, job categories, and
organizational status levels. CEOs, VPs, managers, and worker bees all split
into both camps--doers and shirkers. Next time you want to use a
transparently passive-aggressive ploy like smiling and doing the task badly
in order to avoid being asked to do it again, think about the message you
are sending to anyone observant enough to notice.

Sure. We all want to be respected for our professional skills and the
quality of the work we turn out. And it is appropriate to resist
stereotyping. If someone says, "hey, you're just a tech writer. You should
be the one to make the coffee every morning," you have every reason and
right to resist. But to refuse on principle because you're too important to
take out the trash? Get off it.



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Stupid tasks (was Re: NEED HELP..PLEASE RESPOND): From: Dick Margulis

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