A Buena Idea? ¡Sin Duda!
Tired of the daily grind? The lousy weather? The incessant traffic? Fortune's Stanley Bing has a solution: head south.
(Fortune Magazine) -- I'm standing on the corner of 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue in New York City. At this time, the thermometer is grazing 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Factoring in the effect of the wind, which is blowing down my ears, nose and throat at approximately 30 mph, it feels like six below.
While this may seem like a romp in the Tropic of Capricorn for readers in the northern quadrant of the Korean peninsula, it doesn't feel too good to me. I have just returned from a week on the west coast of Mexico, and I can feel what's left of my tan melting off my face like flesh in a nuclear blast.
Why do we work here?
In a few minutes I will be at the restaurant at which I must eat because if I do not do so at least once a week, people will think I am Over. To get there, I have to hump through the Arctic chill, muscle my way through the crowd around the coat check, and make sure the table I have been given is commensurate with my station. The restaurant is hot and jammed with egregious social climbers and nervous power mongers just like me.
Did I mention that I just returned from a week on the west coast of Mexico? It's quiet there, and at lunchtime we would wander down to an open, roofed pavilion on the beach for margaritas and a bit of just-caught snapper with mole sauce. Here nobody is drinking anything but fizzy water. We eat salad.
I repeat: Why do we work here? Or in L.A., where one must drive an hour to be anywhere? Or Seattle, where it rains all the time and one is defined by the coffee in one's grinder? Or Texas, for any number of reasons, including floods and locusts? Or in Minneapolis or Detroit or, God help us, Maine?
Before you inundate me with fractious e-mails telling me about the wonders of these locales, I cede your point. They are each, one and all, marvelous in their own right and terrific places to raise a family. They even have bars.
But why do we work there when the west coast of Mexico beckons? The sun bears down on you like a heavy friend one must carry back to his room for a midafternoon nap. Pelicans wheel overhead, then plunge headfirst into the surf, looking for bright silver fish to stow in their pouches. And the silence, broken only by the crash of the Pacific, is vast, deep, warm, inviting.
After lunch I will return through downtown Siberia to my tower, dodging angry cabbies and hordes of heedless pedestrians, each in his own haze of iPod aphasia. In Mexico we say hola to each other as we pass beneath the palm trees. Here we look away and say nothing. Who knows what may happen if you make eye contact with the wrong sort of individual as he makes his resentful way down the cold, mean street?
So tell me, I beg you! Why do we work here? Are we happier? When the sun sets on our brief time upon this melting planet, will we be able to say that we were glad to have done so?
No, I say! I can think of no reason, in this age of fast planes and BlackBerrys, for us to continue to live and work as we do. As we move into the shank of this great new century, a fresh paradigm is called for in this, perhaps the most fundamental issue of our working lives.
In short, let's bag this joint and move down there.
Of course, some changes would have to be made. First, there's the waking-up-late thing. Can't do that in business. Then there's the infrastructure. The roads, for instance. They'll need to be expanded and paved so that we can all get from the beach to the place we're officed. Where are all the offices, anyway? We'll need to put up some towers with enough floors to separate junior from middle from senior from ultra-senior management, with big spaces for el presidente way up top.
And then there's the fact that "right away" down there means sometime before next cinco de mayo. That just won't do either. Finally, it gets quite caliente for a good chunk of the year. So hot, actually, that it's tough to go outside between 11 A.M. and 3 P.M., which is when we'd be stepping away to the restaurants we'll have to build for lunch - tiny taquerias for the little people on up to the kinds of places you and I would dine in. You can't get anything done when you're sweating through your shirt. And the bugs. Hate those bugs. Got to do something about them too.
It'll take a bit of doing, I admit. But if any culture can get this kind of thing done, ours can. We can do it, mis amigos. So vámonos already. The world awaits.
Stanley Bing's latest book, "100 Bullshit Jobs & And How to Get Them" (Collins), is available at finer bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the April 2, 2007 issue