It’s like the ancient Greeks knew what the 21st century workplace would be like…

Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the tale… that may strike a lot of people as an uncannily accurate metaphor for their average workday.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Sisyphus. This is a Greek myth, so we may assume that he was not the nicest gentleman ever to walk the face of the Earth. Accounts vary on exactly what he did to anger the gods but, again, this is a Greek myth, so it may not have been much at all. After all, this was a world where being a better weaver than Athena could get your turned into a spider…

Sisyphus was cunning, tricksey, probably a little too big for his own britches (once more, Greek mythology), and the gods were ticked at him. According to some versions, his sin was hubris, or blood-lust, or insulting the gods. In some, he tried to use his wile to cheat death. Whatever his crime, though, his punishment reminds us that the Greek gods had a little bit of a fetish for disproportionate retribution.

“If you could just carry this over there for me? There’s a good boy…”

Upon finally arriving in the Underworld, Sisyphus was given a task. All he had to do was roll a boulder to the top of a hill and all would be forgiven. Easy peasy…

Except that the Greek gods, as we may recall, are massive jerk-asses, so of course it wasn’t that easy. Zeus enchanted the boulder in question, as if to say “ooh, who’s clever NOW?!?!” And so, every time Sisyphus neared the top of the hill, the boulder would slip from his grasp and roll right back down to the bottom. And, heaving a sigh over it being one of those kinds of days, Sisyphus would trot back down the hillside, grab that damned boulder, and start pushing it up the hill again.

And again.

And again…

“No, no, don’t– we’re almost there…”

And so it continues to this day. The poor guy almost reaches his goal and then something happens that sends him right back to the beginning of the task. For all eternity. And, if he could just wait on his lunch break until he’s done, that would be great…

I was reminded of this myth today for some reason. I can’t imagine why. And, somehow, a little voice in my ear told me that I might not be the only one to relate to a guy trying futilely to just get his job done. So, here’s to all us working stiffs out there. We’ll reach the top of the hill one of these days.

Just another day at the office

All images are taken from Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain.

PS, in no way is the above entry a complaint about my job in particular, more an observation on the nature of modern workplaces in general.

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