The Real Meaning of Work

Pikachu mascot at Hokkaido New Chitose Airport, Pokémon Centre, dressed in pilot attire.

Liam used to work for an engineering company, in charge of quality assurance.

One day, Liam was touring the ground to check on his operators. When one of them showed him that the inventory was low, Liam proclaimed that ensuring the supplies was sufficient was not part of his main portfolio, even though he was the only one in the company doing it.

His boss, Azen, of course heard about it and checked with Liam, to confirm that checking and topping up the inventory was not part of his “main portfolio”.  So that task was reassigned to another colleague of Liam.

On another occasion, the auditors came, and Liam casually told the auditors that handling the auditors is not his “real” job. His main portfolio was in quality assurance and making sure all the parts his factory produced was up-to-mark, not a tour guide.

The auditors took that finding back and Azen was informed about it. Azen, being the ever empathetic boss he was, confirmed with Liam that managing the documents and processes for audits was not congruent to his idea of his “main portfolio” and asked another staff to take over that portfolio.


Such incidents occured for a few times, and duties like taking minutes for the department meetings, organising the company’s Dinner and Dance responsibilities were taken away from his job description and reallocated to another staff.

This very day, Liam was on the ground again, and one of his operators showed him 2 products, both with defects that did not exactly fit the criteria for being a defect. They wanted him to make a judgement whether that should still be passed through (and if they don’t, should they log this finding as a new defect).

Liam rolled his eyeballs and exclaimed, “If it does not fit the criteria to be a defect, it is not a defect. Why are you even asking me for an opinion like this?”

Of course, Azen heard about this and offered to also remove the task of making the call of whether a product is defective, and offered it to another colleague.

Before sending Liam away, Azen said in a congratulatory tone, “I must say you are a very outstanding staff the company has ever seen! You have progressively shown us that most tasks were redundant and could actually be subsumed under the responsibilities of another staff!”

“In fact, you have effectively made your own post redundant!”

By then, the smile on Liam’s face disappeared.

“Since you have delegated all the tasks in your ‘main’ portfolio to others, and you have no other tasks under your designation, I will have to close that position. And since there is no other vacancy in this company, I will have to let you go, unfortunately!

“But… oh! I can show the auditors around!” Liam tried in vain. In vain, because Azen said, “Ken, that guy who took over this portfolio is handling it very well, and he needs that extra task for his appraisal.”

Liam tried to say some more, but was shown the door by Azen.

“Your tasks in your portfolio were the reason your post had existed. You cherry-picked and tried to push responsibilities away. A company needs someone to complete tasks. Me, the manager, is the one who decides whether the tasks should be under your portfolio.”


Disclaimer: I am a casual social commentator, who speaks because it is logical and rational, so my points are not necessarily based on established research and studies. As much as possible, I will refer to theories and knowledge I picked up through formal education. If you do agree to my ideas, please feel free to contaminate others in your social circle. If you disagree, though, it would be good to provide sources and credits, so that I can learn from my mistakes.

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