Is there anything worse than new year work cliches? Yes – many things – among them child labour, Kyle Sandilands and nearly every jellyfish species. But nothing makes you feel more like a minuscule, barely-required cog in the clockwork of capitalism than being congratulated for spending Christmas “recharging the batteries”.
Even worse is the language that comes straight out of cosmetics ads: people asking you whether you’ve returned to work feeling “refreshed and rejuvenated”. All that’s missing is “alive with clarity” or “pulsing with radiance”… and who’s to say these aren’t the new year work cliches of tomorrow?
“Reinvigorated”, “revitalised”, “replenished” – so many words beginning with re lead us to actions starting with the same two letters, namely regurgitating food and reconsidering our love of life.
So, what do we do about this, dear readers? Well, here’s a new year’s resolution for you: this year, don’t cop it.
If someone at work asks whether you’re “ready and raring to go for a big 2015”, stare at them for as long as you can without blinking, then let out a short sigh that contains a profanity and walk away.
If someone tells you about their recently topped up power supply, quiz them on it: ask whether they take a standard alkaline or have upgraded to lithium-ion. When they laugh it off, persist with your questions; demand to know where they insert said batteries (perhaps make an upward motion with your middle and forefinger).
If someone says they’re “locked and loaded after Christmas”, concentrate your subsequent attack on the larynx.
Only by striking back do we stand a chance of defeating this insidious January evil.
An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
You can read Benign to Five in those papers every Saturday, and if you miss it, you can look it up online in the BusinessDay section of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, WAToday and Brisbane Times. (I now wankishly call myself a “syndicated columnist” on my CV.)