HR Strange But True!
March 15, 2007

We've all seen them--people who seem to do nothing more than take up space in the workplace, utterly incapable of executing even the simplest task. But how should we refer to these workplace incompetents?

That's essentially what Slate asked in a recent contest seeking the best euphemisms for lazy and/or boneheaded workers. The submissions, judged by language columnist Barbara Wallraff, came from many different areas and walks of life.

Someone submitted a Japanese term that translates to "salary thief." From the legal world came the expression, "a walking liability claim." Another entrant suggested that a colleague who sits in the back row when the work is being handed out is a "co-lurker."

Geeks of the world are familiar with the Drake Equation, a formula that attempts to determine how many intelligent civilizations there might be in our galaxy. If you are referred to as someone who "makes the Drake Equation equal to zero," you should not feel flattered.

Other less than flattering terms included "painfully employed," "full of opportunity," "ne'er do nothing," and "RWA" (rock with arms). To see the winning entry, go to the Slate website. While you're there, you may want to enter Slate's next contest -- politically correct (or at least humorous) euphemisms for co-workers who are "hot."

Source: Slate

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