Dead Caterpillar

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What it means to be a slacker

Tuesday, Nov 23rd, 2010

I am a habitual slacker. Nearly everything in my life is a testament to that fact: my mediocre grades, my unkempt friendships (“I meant to call you back but I …”), my dead hamster. Even this very blog post.  It was supposed to be written and published by Sunday like all of my weekly dispatches. But it is Tuesday night and I am just now finishing the first paragraph. I slacked.

It’s not that I don’t care. Slackers do care, just not to an excess. Slackers heavily moderate their care. The best slackers care only minimally.

But we do care.

After all, my grades are mediocre but I’ve never actually failed a class. I do have some friends. And I fed my hamster for nearly an entire year before I became forgetful and apathetic, before … the tragedy.

Some believe that slacking — the minimalist approach to caring — means just getting by. But slacking is so much more than just getting by. There’s a science to producing D minuses and dead hamsters. Yes. Slacking is a science. Slacking is about milking the minimum effort for the maximum effect. Slacking is almost an entire decade of teen-hood. The time in your life when you neglect to mow — weekly — the same 10-square-yard patch of back lawn because it is well-shaded and hardly noticeable. (My Dad still hasn’t noticed. Does he read my blog? I will soon find out. And so will my precocious little brother who has adopted my choir along with my methods.)

Slacking is not about throwing all your cares out the window. Slacking is not about doing nothing. There is a clear distinction between the not-carers and the do-nothings. One cannot expect something to come from nothing. It’s simple logic. Minimal — not zero — effort  must be applied. At least. And if you’re a very skillful slacker, maximum results will follow. At most.


Allow me to explain.

Let’s say for example there are a total of 100 points possible on an exam. One student studies ardently. He puts aside all luxuries for a week to achieve optimal performance on the exam. Another student — the skillful slacker — takes the opposite approach. He spends his time as he pleases during the week before the exam. Only a half-hour before the exam does he begin studying.

The student who studied for a week receives a 95. The slacker who studied only at the last minute receives a 60. Which is the wiser?

Why, the student who studied and received a 95 of course.

And you are just as much wrong as you are theoretical, my dear reader who likes to think in italics.

It’s simple math. The skillful slacker only studied for 30 minutes before the exam and yet achieved 60 points. The unwise student wasted an entire week studying but only achieved 35 more points. That’s a ratio of 30 minutes of time for 60 points weighing against a week of time for 95 points. The slacker achieved more for less. His effort was more cost-effective. More for the money. It’s simple mathematics … economics, business! Whatever you want to call it!

That’s what it means to be a slacker. To be cost-effective. To get the most out of the least and not bother with trivialities, the things which separate A students from C students. Popular people from unpopular. Dead hamsters from live.

How does he do it?

The reader is intrigued.

How does one … slack so effectively?

I’ll tell you, dear reader.  I’ll tell you because I’m the greatest slacker there ever was. I’m the best. No one can match me in test-taking improvisation. No one can accomplish what I’ve accomplished with so little effort. I’m a master slacker.

The best.

I’ll share a morsel of my knowledge because I’m feeling generous today. Through years of being unprepared for tests, I have learned how to extrapolate answers from the words used in the questions. I can artfully make a priori knowledge appear a posteriori. The following is a short answer example.

Q: Discuss Christian hermeneutics and its impact on 20th century philosophy.

A (this is how it’s done a priori): For years historians were puzzled as to the correct interpretation of Christian hermeneutics and its impact on 20th century philosophy. Philosophy is by nature an abstract science and tracing the roots and origins of its schools of thought — developed over the course of a century — is a monumental task. The root herme comes from the Greek hermes which is the name given to the Greek messenger god. Although some historians have questioned the importance of [...]


Sometimes people go to great lengths to slack. To be economical, cost-effective. It’s almost as if they are diligent slackers.

The night before a unit test in my Biologoy 101 course, in an act of desperation, one of my classmates (a ‘Susan Mclaren’) sent out a mass email to everyone in the class. This seasoned slacker (no doubt a senior like myself) has learned the art of creatively cloaking last-minute slacker requests in humor and playful wit. Rather than wasting time putting together a study guide, she opted to leverage the work of other students:

Dear Bio 101,

I have had the worst week! Tests and papers array my desk and my eyelids feel like heavy lead boxes resting on my face. I had a study guide for this class amongst the skyscrapers of papers but somehow my roommate’s friend’s brother’s parrot got into my room and stole them from my desk. We have reported him to the SPCA and the police but so far, no one has been able to catch that rascally parrot, Pickles. Somewhere out there is a 5 inch 10 cm green and gray parrot hauling about 20 pounds of paper.

Thankfully, I made another study guide and managed to lock it in a steal fireproof vault with its own moat. Little did I know that it wasn’t mole-proof. This morning when I got up to check if it was still there (which I do at the top of every hour) it was gone. All I found were two holes leading in and out of the vault, under the moat. I knew I should have listened to my psyche to make it deeper. Now, I have an evil league of moles that have left me a ransom note that is written in chicken scratch. Literally. I have 24 hours until they destroy my study guide…

Naturally, I can’t take ransom notes seriously from naked rats, so I am refusing to obey their orders and making yet another study guide. However, at this point, I am too weary. I have noticed that there have been a lot of questions about a study guide and as I do not have one either I was wondering if some angel could teleport one to me too? I would really appreciate it and if you find my roommate’s friend’s brother’s parrot please report him to the officials. Thanks!

Also, here a video that I found to be very helpful and calming in the process of studying for this test. Keep calm and carry on fellow friends.

(Edited for punctuation and style.)

And that’s how it’s done kids. Why spend time making your own study guide when someone else already has? Don’t waste time. Don’t use your time unwisely. Leverage the work of others. That’s what it means to have a healthy approach to caring. That’s what it means to be a slacker.

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