Saturday, May 06, 2006

Don't Go Changing

They're doing this Clean Air Program at work. From now until September, you can accumulate points for various air-saving activities such as walking, biking, or carpooling to work, bringing your lunch instead of going out, and performing routine maintenance on your car. At the end of the program you can get either four hours or eight hours of paid time off, depending on how many points you've racked up.

Seems to me you should get even more points for staying home altogether, but you don't. I guess they figure that employees who call in sick are planning to spend the day doing doughnuts in the boss' yard, or shooting small cute helpless animals, or shopping at Wal-Mart, or some other such reprehensible activity.

They also recently did a program where state agency employees could earn paid time off by getting some exercise, for God's sake. It was targeted towards those employees who never seem to move at all - whose office chairs seem to be permanently fused to their backsides - whose principal form of physical activity is shuffling - but of course the people who logged their activities were largely the ones who were walking or jogging or working out every day to begin with.

Except that the list of qualifying physical activities involved things like billiards (not really all that energetic a game, at least not the way I play it) and fishing (a form of exercise during which you can actually nap). Plus the activity log was on the honor system, so even some very inactive people ended up completing a program or two. (I don't think smoking was a qualifying activity, but I could be wrong. I'd have to go back and double-check. I guess it does make your lungs work harder.)

Does a program like this really change anyone's behavior, though? You might say at least it raises awareness, because the newer-employee set I hang with talks about these things, but don't know if that's true across the board. I overheard the woman on the other side of my cube wall - a 33-year veteran - make a remark to another old-timer about the fitness program, and how maybe she should think about signing up for it, two days before the program ended. But that's because, while emails are sent out, most of the information is online; and among the older set, I'm pretty sure a lot of them don't actually know how to use a computer.

Lucky for me I only live half a mile or so from work and have been walking anyway, plus I always brown-bag so I can spend my lunch hour on the hike-and-bike. But I can't perform maintenance on my car because it's been sitting in the parking lot for several weeks and now I can't get it started.

You should get extra points for having a car that doesn't run.


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