Slacking Off

The author in her former barracks

The author in her former barracks

“Once a slacker, always a slacker.” Wait, that’s not the phrase. It’s “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” I have a bit of experience with both. Neither is desirable.

In terms of slacking, nobody was a bigger slacker than me growing up.

But that completely flew out the window when I got to boot camp in Illinois in the middle of winter. It was a flurry of women from all over the nation and outlying islands in big, long rooms with metal beds and lots of yelling. Everyone was assigned certain jobs based on the company commander’s assumptions of our abilities. I got a pretty good gig: I was the Master-at-Arms for the entire barracks. So when other companies graduated and moved on, my team would be in charge of stripping and waxing the floors and getting the room ready for the next group.

It was a great way to get the hell out of my own room, where less exciting jobs like pulling long socks over your arms and legs and “swimming” under all the bunks to collect dust bunnies (this is real) would be handed off to the proven slackers. Working outside of my bay, there was always stuff to do. If all the bays were occupied, we would repaint a stairwell, or the main quarterdeck where all the big important people walked across. (This is where I developed my reputation early on in my service that stuck with me until my honorable discharge as a bit of a nut. I liked to interact with everyone that crossed the quarterdeck, which often got me in trouble — trouble that often entailed a repetitive torturous combination of exercises six levels worse than “drop and give me 20.”)

We had a pretty cool team.

Back then, communication was pre-mobile technology. Thinking about how efficient we ran the barracks, we would have completely murdered it using Slack, a software application that facilitates business communication.

I admit that as someone who loves technology, I’m a bit late to the Slack party. Truth is I never used any real effective way to keep a group organized on a project. We’ve always stayed in touch via group text, which can get icky fast if the group isn’t all iOS. Slack, though, is so streamlined and helps me from getting too distracted when I’m checking my phone. Slack keeps all of your communication with your team in one centralized, searchable location — meaning that you can easily pull up that Dropbox file your co-worker sent you that one time, or check back on past brainstorming sessions.

Now instead of opening a Pandora’s box of group text pile ups and other messages I want to address right away, I can stay far away from that inbox and only work on the mission at hand.