The point of pointless jobs

04 March 2012 - 02:15 By Ndumiso Ngcobo, Headline Act

Without car guards, would we ever get out of the mall?

IN today's column I will attempt to eradicate the scourge of rampant unemployment in our nation in one fell swoop. I will use nothing more than my keyboard and awesome powers of observation and persuasion.

Listening to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan deliver his Budget speech, and the president deliver his impressive State of the Nation address, the clear message that resonated with me was:"Create jobs or else." This newspaper seems to agree and launched the "Each One Hire One" campaign some time ago. I totally agree. Employed people are usually too busy pretending to work and taking smoke breaks to burn libraries or point guns at unsuspecting folk.

My first observation will be to point out that every essential vacancy in the economy is already filled.

To the contrarian shaking his/her head violently, no, the unfilled External Customer Activation Consultant vacancy in your department is non-essential. That's just your organisation inadvertently supporting this newspaper's "Each One Hire One" campaign.

Of course my observation does not extend to government. It only applies to organisations that would go under if targets were not achieved. Government has no such problems. When government goes broke, it merely digs deeper into MrTaxpayer's pocket. And if the taxpayer can't be fleeced, they "democratically" bulldoze car owners to pay for those permanent construction sites called highways using e-tags.

I call that a sweet deal.

That's my roundabout way of pointing out that the trick to eliminate unemployment is to create as many pointless jobs as we all can. Creating nonexistent jobs is not really new to us. In the words of the despot in the Vodacom TV ad: "We've been havin' it."

You don't believe me? Let's start with the most obvious futile job in the land, that of the deputy president (or, as I like to call him, "the just-in-case-it-hits-the-fan guy"). From what I can see, your job as deputy president is to go on trips to Dubai to stare at cranes all day, like Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, declare random public holidays or cut ribbons during the opening of new libraries to replace the libraries burnt down by the jobless.

These are your filler activities while biding time and sharpening your dagger, à la Brutus, in the event of a mutiny.

If I had to choose a Cabinet post, deputy president would be top of my list. It is no wonder, then, that I believe that a very close second on the obsolete jobs list is that of the newspaper columnist who pens columns about pointless jobs. And for this, I'm eternally grateful.

We are surrounded by examples that we're already halfway down this path of paying people to perform unnecessary duties. Look at it this way: Mother Nature has shown us the way by placing nipples on men's chests for no rational reason I can fathom.

Not that I liken them to men's nipples or anything, but why else do we fork out R5 to a scrawny dude so he can tell us that the most effective way of leaving the mall is to reverse out of the parking bay? Would we sit in the car dumbfounded?

The same goes for those other guys who perform the arduous task of snatching your ticket out of your hand and inserting it for you at the exit of undercover parking. One of my other favourite jobs is the ticket ripper at the movies. And you have to admire their ticket-ripping skills, too; perfectly down the middle, every time.

A good friend of mine once spent an entire calendar year working in one of our former homelands as a (get this) assistant deputy junior administrative clerk. After he told me what his title was, I was too busy hugging him to even ask what the job entailed. I always imagined he was that guy in a cubicle stapling sheaths of those thick documents that government departments produce.

As inconsequential as all these jobs are, you have to see the upside. At least they're not a bunch of fellows standing in the scorching sun on Rome's StPeter's Square in garish Chappies-coloured pyjamas, like those Swiss Guards.

Come now. They're Swiss, which makes them genetically pacifist. Who are they fooling? If an assassin were to threaten the life of the Holy Father, what would they do? Suggest a Geneva-negotiated truce with the assassin? Okay, I jest.

Speaking of creating employment opportunities, as I've shared many times over, my ultimate goal in life is to amass enough worldly wealth to afford a cheerleading squad to precede me everywhere I go, chanting my name: "Go Ndum! Go Ndum!"

In the spirit of "Each One Hire One", I have decided that when I make my first billion, I will hire a team of full-time songwriters, led by Johnny Clegg and Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Mshengu Shabalala. Their job will be to sit in a room all day and write war songs and poems in my honour.

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