Beware The Potty
by Mad Dog
Lord knows it’s easier to make workers stand around
fidgeting with their legs clamped tightly together than it is to design
small, reliable, reasonably priced cars that get great gas mileage.
||If you work in Ford Motor
Co.'s Michigan Truck Plant you’d better hope you don’t get diarrhea.
A memo was passed around last week saying supervisors are going to start
keeping an eye on how long workers spend in the bathroom. One can only
hope they don’t mean that literally. They’re also going to make sure
workers have hall passes from their teacher if they’re walking around,
wash behind their ears every morning, and look both ways before crossing
the street. Hey, you’re never too high on the corporate ladder to
treat those beneath you like they’re, well, beneath you.
The reason they’re trying to take
the “rest” out of restroom is that the parents of Ford executives
tried to potty train them too young. Just kidding. Actually they’re
doing this because they say workers who spend too much time in the
bathroom are slowing down production, and considering Ford’s North
American automotive operations lost $1.2 billion last quarter, they need
to do something. Hence the “Potty Less, Profit More” program. Lord
knows it’s easier to make workers stand around fidgeting with their
legs clamped tightly together than it is to design small, reliable,
reasonably priced cars that get great gas mileage.
Hourly workers at the Ford plant are
allowed 48 minutes per shift for bathroom breaks. That averages out to 6
minutes per hour, which is barely enough time to read the sports
section, better yet get to the op-ed page and Ann Landers. I’m just
guessing, but I have a hunch managers can spend as much time in the
restroom as they like. Hell, they can probably read the Wall Street
Journal cover to cover, call their stockbroker, and still have time
to gripe because they can never find the comics, all without anyone even
considering tattling on them. Chrysler says it’s not going to follow
suit because it would be, in a spokesperson’s words, “too anal,”
even though their workers get 2 minutes less per shift. And yes, there's
an “f” in that last word.
"In the old days in France, they had beheading of
people who commit heinous crimes," he said, safe in the knowledge
that people aren’t decapitated anymore for poor grammar.
Ford isn’t saying what the punishment will be for lingering too
long in the loo, but hopefully they won’t take a tip from Las Vegas
Mayor Oscar Goodman. The former mob lawyer turned mayor recently
demonstrated once again why he’s better suited for his previous career
by declaring on TV that anyone convicted of defacing public property
with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off. On live TV. Don’t be
surprised when his city changes its slogan to: “What gets cut off in
Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.”
I have no doubt a new reality TV show
called Thumbs Up! would be a hit — in fact, it could be
sponsored by Wendy’s chili and would have to be endorsed by Ebert and
Roeper — but there might be a teeny tiny constitutional question about
the punishment fitting the crime. Not to mention that it wouldn’t be a
direct deterrent. After all, you can still use a spray paint can if you
have no thumbs. And a slot machine, which is probably why Goodman
isn’t too worried about losing customers.
Goodman actually has another plan,
one that he thinks will result in fewer thumb choppings. And lower
Nielson ratings, but hey, you can’t have everything. He says whipping
and caning children should be brought back. "In the old days in
France, they had beheading of people who commit heinous crimes," he
said, safe in the knowledge that people aren’t decapitated anymore for
poor grammar. Be careful what you wish for, Mayor. Don’t forget that
in old France they had a nasty habit of beheading rulers they didn’t
like. Remember Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Louis’ sister
they can stock up on Imodium AD and not drink water all day. And yes,
they can work on their abs of hard-to-read steel. But they’ll still
need to worry about what scheme management will dream up next.
The Ford memo didn’t say how they’ll be monitoring bathroom
usage. They could mount cameras over the door, but they’d need face
recognition software that could tell people’s faces apart when
they’re all wearing baseball caps. They could set up time clocks
inside so workers can punch in and out, or go high tech and give
employees a Fastrak-type responder like is used on toll roads and
bridges. Or they could check their stomachs to see if they’re lying.
That’s right, their stomach. In a
speech before the American College of Gastroenterology (motto: “The
way to a doctor’s new car is through your stomach”), researchers
from the University of Texas revealed that by monitoring the response of
a person’s stomach muscles they could accurately determine when that
person was burping. I mean, lying. They think this could turn out to be
a better indicator than the current polygraph, but before we get too
excited let’s not forget that at one point scientists thought the Sun
revolved around the Earth, lead could be changed into gold, and that
humans evolved from monkeys. Scientists can be so silly.
All this doesn’t bode well for
workers at the Ford truck plant. Sure they can stock up on Imodium AD
and not drink water all day. And yes, they can work on their abs of
hard-to-read steel. But they’ll still need to worry about what scheme
management will dream up next to save a few bucks. It’s enough to make
your stomach queasy. I sure hope you haven’t used up your toilet time
©2005 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them while holding it in.