In this episode of the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! : Our panelists tell three stories about job creators.
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CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I’m Carl Kasell. We’re playing this week with Faith Salie, Luke Burbank and Charlie Pierce. And, here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl.
SAGAL: Thank you everybody. We’ve arrived at the WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you’re on WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME.
MICHELE KELLY: Hi.
SAGAL: Hi, who’s this?
KELLY: My name is Michele.
SAGAL: Where are you calling from Michele?
KELLY: Franklin, Massachusetts.
SAGAL: Franklin, Massachusetts, that’s sort of out in the suburbs of Boston, right?
KELLY: That’s right.
SAGAL: What do you do there?
KELLY: I’m a musician and a music teacher.
SAGAL: Oh, I see. That’s cool. That’s a great thing to do. I always think of music teachers as basically being the real life version of Hogwarts, because…
SAGAL: No, I’m serious, because you’re giving our kids magical powers if only they studied.
KELLY: Oh, I wish you hired us.
SAGAL: What’d you say?
KELLY: I wish you could hire us.
SAGAL: Michele, it’s nice to have you with us. You’re going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Michele’s topic?
KASELL: I’ve got your job right here.
SAGAL: When it comes to the economy and job creation, beggars can’t be choosers, which is why we’re celebrating the achievement of one job creator this week. He’s rebuilding the economy one employee at a time. Guess the real innovative job creation story and you’ll win Carl’s voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?
KELLY: I’m ready.
SAGAL: First, let’s hear from Charlie Pierce.
CHARLIE PIERCE: Workers at Green Sleeves Technologies in Delevan, Wisconsin were tense. The pressure of deadline and competition from abroad were bringing down morale and affecting productivity. So managers at the large software firm made a bold move. They hired a team of people to be trained in birdcalls, duck quacking, goose honking and other sounds of nature, including the babbling of brooks and the whispering of the wind through the trees.
“Our company has examined various psychological studies on the matter very carefully, and we have learned that invariably relax when they are prompted by cues from the outdoors and particularly from the forest,” said Edward Weishoppel, president of Green Sleeves.
“So we have tried to create as realistic a woodland environment as we can. We even lower the lights a bit at the end of the afternoon, and we change the calls from birds that call during the day to those at night.” Green Sleeves has depended vitally on the outdoor sports community in and around Delevan.
“I thought they were kidding at first,” said Fred Coppersmith, a veteran local hunter and bait shop owner, who now works 15 hours a week doing various duck calls over the company’s PA system.
PIERCE: “I started doing the calls when I was a kid, just to showoff and get girls.”
PIERCE: “I use the calls for hunting, but I never thought there was a living in it,” he said. Green Sleeves’ employees particularly enjoy Coppersmith’s wood duck and his hooded merganser. “I’ve just got to remember not to shoot them when they look up,” Coppersmith said.
KASELL: Guys who do birdcalls and other nature sounds, helping to soothe the workers at a software company in Wisconsin. You’re next story of a job opening up quite unexpectedly comes from Faith Salie.
FAITH SALIE: Ever sit down to get some work done and you decide to make a quick check of Facebook and then you find yourself arguing on Facebook with someone from middle school about whether James Spader reached peak hotness in “Pretty in Pink” or “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” only to look up and find you’ve wasted hours and you want to slap yourself? Why not hire someone to do it for you?
That’s what San Francisco blogger Maneesh Sethi did. Sethi summoned the self-control to install an app that tracked his productivity and found that thanks to Facebook and watching episodes of “The League,” he was only 38 percent productive. So, he advertised on Craigslist, of course, under domestic gigs, asking for someone to, quote, “Slap me if I get off task.”
SALIE: In this economy, apparently you can find a lot of people willing to smack you for eight bucks an hour.
SALIE: Sethi says his inbox blew up with 20 candidates within minutes. A comely last name Kara now sits beside him at a Mission coffee shop where she consensually swats him across the Facebook. Kara won’t go so far as to call herself an attention dominatrix, but does find her new métier a bit 50 shades of “Hey, focus.”
SAGAL: A blogger ends his procrastination by hiring someone to slap him when he gets off task. Your last story of someone posting a now hiring sign comes from Luke Burbank.
LUKE BURBANK: Fantasy football used to be reserved for the geekiest, most stat-obsessed, most dating-challenged of NFL fans.
BURBANK: But these days, walk into any sports bar on a Sunday and you’ll see more laptops than plates of hot wings, because apparently we all want in on this thrilling, thrilling pretend action.
BURBANK: This trend didn’t go unnoticed by Cotter Donell, owner of CI Shenanigans Sports Bar in Cleveland. He’s joined the ranks of the job creators by hiring a staff of in-house fantasy football coaches, who prowl the sidelines of the bar on Sundays, clipboards in hand, coaching people on how to play fantasy football. “You’re starting Carson Palmer against the Raven’s defense,” hollered Jim Depew, one of the coaches. “Are you out of your damned mind?”
BURBANK: Marin Lamert, a 32-year-old software developer was the object of Depew’s rage/coaching. “I was kind of intimidated at first,” said Lamert, “but he really did know what he was talking about, plus it helped me beat Brad in IT. So I can finally show up at work on Monday with my head held high.”
BURBANK: Donell says he currently has four coaches on staff with plans to expand to eight coaches next season to cover Monday and Thursday night games. He says he’s received hundreds of applications for the coaching positions. But he clarifies that despite the rumors, there is no evidence that one of the applications was submitted by that replacement referee, the guy who blew the call in the recent Seattle versus Green Bay game.
SAGAL: All right, here then are your choices. One of these is a real job that was recently filled.
Was it from Charlie Pierce, the job of nature noisemaker at a software company in Wisconsin? From Faith Salie: focus puller, if you will, someone to slap a blogger when he gets distracted? Or from Luke Burbank, the story of fantasy football coaches hired by a sports bar? Which of these is the real story of a new kind of job?
KELLY: Oh, boy. One of them is true, huh?
SAGAL: Yes, indeed.
KELLY: I think I’m going to go with A, the nature call.
SAGAL: All right, your choice then is Charlie’s story. Well, to find out the correct answer, we spoke to the actual job creator.
MANEESH SETHI: The worry that I would be not just hit by her but also seen being hit by everybody in the café…
KELLY: Oh my god.
SETHI: …was pretty much enough to make me not even think about going to Facebook.
SAGAL: That was Maneesh Sethi. He’s from hackthesystem.com. He was talking about the young woman he hired to sit next to him and slap him every time he clicked on Facebook and lost focus on his work.
KELLY: Oh, that’s pretty sad.
SAGAL: That’s pretty sad.
SAGAL: As you heard, it was Faith who had the real story. So I’m afraid you didn’t win, but you did earn a point for Charlie. Michele, thank you so much for playing.
KELLY: Oh, thank you. I had a great time.
SAGAL: Thank you, Michele. Bye-bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
Copyright © 2012 NPR.
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