Nobody is buying anything these days. Workers are idle, but they want to look productive. That leads to busywork. Great idea for a trend piece! Turns out busywork won't save you. You are doomed.

Retail workers refold shirts over and over, office workers clean their desks obsessively, and some just give up and spend their time goofing off online, which can look productive as long as the screen is not visible to the boss. And that's really the way to go. You can read blogs, keep us employed, and enjoy the bitter dwindling moments of the American empire. Trying hard—like this lawyer did—only leads to disappointment:

His time sheets increasingly read, “professional development.” Earnest, but nonbillable. He volunteered for the firm’s diversity recruiting program. Law firms have an ethical obligation to take on pro bono work, so he explored that, too.

“A lot of partners who were anti pro bono used to say, ‘If you do that, find another job!’ But they’re the ones who are sitting at their desks, twiddling their thumbs and doing pro bono to keep busy,” the lawyer said. He even read to a class once a week at a public elementary school in the city.

“I was busy not making money,” he said. “But because I was out there trying to do things for the firm that were valuable in a different way, I thought that might be enough.”

Three weeks ago he was laid off.

[NYT. Pic via]