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Doin` time in Social Security`s purgatory

Between the Lines

My friend Maslin cruised into town a few weeks ago. He was heading back to Texas by way of Starkville and Jackson and that stretch of interstate in Louisiana that we all hate to drive because, well, it’s in Louisiana. Mas was on his way home to Houston after a project he was working on in Australia wrapped up, and he decided to stop for lunch and tell us a few stories from his days in the Land of Oz.

It was a great Sunday morning — just before noon. The Wife, the Kid, Mas and I sat under an umbrella outside at Que Sera on State Street. Junk cars and SUVs rumbled by as we enjoyed the omelettes and po’boys.

“Local color,” I said through a muffler’s reverberation. “How’s it feel to be back home?”

And you could tell Mas didn’t mind — particularly — being back home, but he was still thinking hard about his southern hemisphere days.

He told us about flying vintage airplanes, catching a classic car race — MGs and Jaguars piston to piston, hiking, biking and sea kayaking. He explored national parks, jogged through Perth, and on a jaunt to New Zealand, worked in a little whitewater rafting. Along the way, he also had a leech encounter, went diving on the Great Barrier Reef and sampled a microbrew called, simply enough, Brewski.

Maslin didn’t mention the work. We did talk about the people.

“What’s an Aussie like anyway,” I wondered.

“Most laid-back people in the world,” he said. “You bump into someone on the street, you hear ‘No worries, mate.’”

In fact, “No worries,” is something of an Australian mantra.

Jump online and you’ll find “No worries” on countless Web sites dealing with the Down Under. And doesn’t “No worries” beat to Hades Americanized Aussie-isms like “Shrimp on the barrrrr-beeeee” or “A dingo ate your baby.”

In fact, “No worries” might make a pretty good way to do business. Think about it:

• The market drops a gazillion points on Tuesday.

No worries, mate, buy now, and Thursday, we’ll be back in the stratosphere.

• You actually opened that “I love you!” e-mail attachment and your PC is toast.

No worries, mate, buy an iMac. Trust me, it’ll make you happy.

• You’ve been fired.

No worries, mate, pick up a little HTML, XML, SAP or C++ and you’ll be set for life.

And you could go on. Really. Think of a situation — something unpleasant, annoying or not too profitable that tackles you in the office. Now think, “No worries.” Wrap your answer around that philosophical nugget and you’ll find yourself — and the day — perking up.

When I did ask Mas about the Job, he was reflective. Long hours, stress, corporate politics — you know the drill. We’ve all been there. (You’re probably there now, aren’t you?) But not all bad. A few more hours out of the office, on the course, in the boat, with the kids or just cutting the grass, and maybe life won’t seem so out of control.

“No worries.” Not bad but I’m still getting used to it. Pass me a Brewski though, and we’ll see what happens.


Jim Laird is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is jlaird@msbusiness.com.

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