Today’s word is gongoozler.
Perhaps you know one. You maybe even work with one. But first we need to back up, historically speaking, just a tad.
The word, less than a century old, came about to describe people who stood idly by, watching activity on canals. Boats, fishermen, barges, you name it, a gongoozler would spend his days hangin’ out, watching river life floooow by.
The term was broadened to mean any person who watches work swirl around them while they do nothing. In the very small town where my grandparents lived, the older, retired men of the community would gather a few times a week at a local coffee shop to play dominoes while they kvetched about their neighbors, the glacially slow pace at which their Social Security checks took to arrive, and life in general.
The monotony broke one day when a street crew arrived to redo the storm drains. Men in orange hard hats directed the pounding of jackhammers and rumbling backhoes as an entire block of Main Street was torn up for a week or two, the relentless racket making a good game of dominoes impossible. Instead the elder statesmen headed for the sidewalks, watching – and commenting, I’m sure – as new drains were installed.
See where I was going with my earlier question? I’m sure you know a gongoozler – someone who has no problem watching work take place while they give no thought to helping out.
We call them slackers or rubberneckers, and either way, they’re slightly annoying. And, alas, workplaces are filled with these people. There’s no way around it, save for hiding in the bathroom all day, which becomes impractical, especially when lunchtime rolls around.
I think the women of my grandparents’ town knew how to get rid of their gongoozlers – toss them a box of dominoes and tell them there’s a hot game happening downtown!