shy of working

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no intention of sawing either of these feet off

Arbeitsunwillger Mann sägt sich Fuß ab (‘Man unwilling to work saws off his own foot‘)

I mentioned this earlier in the week, and thought it might be inappropriate for this blog. Then I remembered this is a blog where we talk about dogs vomiting in chocolate spewing forth and someone stuffing postboxes with excrement in you’ve got stool.

With topics like those, we can certainly manage one about self mutilation. When you hear the story, I think you’ll understand why I feel this was necessary to be covered.

Your obvious question is, ‘Why would someone saw off his own foot?’ He had a better reason than you might think. He didn’t want to go to work.

I can already hear your voice straining with incomprehension as you say, ‘But that’s no reason to do such permanent bodily harm, is it?

Well, we don’t have a lot of details here, but let’s at least cover the whole bloody stump of a story before we attempt to decipher what this fellow might’ve been thinking.

First of all, I don’t want to make too much of where this happened, because Austria has not had a very easy time of it over the last several years. I love our neighbours to the south, and over the years have spent a lot of time there.

Every time there’s shocking news that some Austrian has been caught holding people hostage in his cellar for years at a time, I worry for the emotional state of its people. Not just those held hostage, but the Austrians in general. I can’t be the only one who’s suggested that the Austrian authorities should just go door to door searching cellars. At some point, you have to wonder how many more subterranean dwellers could be rescued.

Back to the story.

The man is described in the article as arbeitsunwillg, which I’ve translated as ‘unwilling to work‘. There’s another German term for this that I think is a bit more sensitive. You could also call him arbeitsscheu, which means ‘shy to work‘ or ‘shy of working‘.

I can already hear a few of you saying, ‘Well, that’s me. I’m shy of working. Very shy. Every morning as I drag myself out of bed, a wave of shyness overcomes me.’

Somehow, I doubt you’re nearly as shy of working as this guy.

He had an impending appointment with his local job centre, and apparently he was dreading it so much that he came up with an ingenious solution. They’d been offering him jobs that I suppose were beneath him. He’d grown accustomed to the luxury of planning his day as a man of leisure.

Reminds me a bit of that scene in Office Space, where the guy decides he really doesn’t want to go to work anymore.

So the guy in the Austrian state of Styria, what they call ‘Steiermark’, comes to the conclusion that if he takes a table saw and separates himself from one of his less-than-necessary appendages, that it’ll be self-evident that he cannot return to work. To the sort of job which only someone with two functioning legs can undertake.

My question is: ‘What sort of job was so horrible that the option which includes sawing your leg off suddenly starts to look appealing?

I have a theory about what job they wanted him to do. The job centre must’ve recommended him to a job that insulted not just the proud little Austrian, but his sense of patriotism, as well. See, I believe they wanted him to be one of the people who goes door to door searching peoples’ cellars for long-term hostages. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

For the sake of Austria’s wounded identity, this guy is a hero. He’s taken one for the team.