You Can’t Be Serious - Hard work did kill somebody
'I appreciate all the long hours you've been putting in. However, it's been brought to my attention that you don't work here.'

You Can’t Be Serious - ‘The good life…’
You Can’t Be Serious – ‘The good life…’

Our fall-back line when driving home a point, or trying to win an argument, is to produce an old saying – which is supposedly the ultimate in wisdom. We accept this litany of wits and wisdoms as gospel, without ever questioning the accuracy of such pronouncements. Most of these ‘old sayings’ do make sense; such as ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, and ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’.

But would it be disingenuous to question the validity of some of these ‘gems’ which have been passed down through the generations?

‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves?’ My children will tell you that I told them to ignore that advice. ‘Take care of the pounds and spray the pennies around you’, is what I always said. Sparing the pennies can make you miserable and unpopular among your peers.

‘A friend to everyone is a friend to no one’, is simply not true. There are good people out there who are friends to everybody they meet. What about Mother Theresa of Calcutta?

If you believe that ‘all good things come to those who wait’, you could be in for a long lonely vigil. All good things come to those who get off their butt and make it happen. ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity’? Oh yes there is: Those who have had lies spread about them or are the victims of ‘fake news’ would certainly disagree with that one.

‘Barking dogs seldom bite’? Who made up that one? Barking dogs do bite and I for one have the scars to prove it. ‘As you sow so shall you reap?’ I’m not so sure about that one either. A lot of outside factors can come into play between the sowing and the reaping. ‘A watched kettle never boils’, simply isn’t true.

Bernie Comaskey Books

It may seem to take longer, but I remember as a child proving that one wrong. ‘Attack is the best form of defence?’ Well now, it might and it mightn’t. Might it not be more advisable to   keep your powder dry and set yourself for a defence, rather than to make an early move and get the you-know-what beaten out of you?

‘Better late than never’ is Ok in certain contexts, but sometimes in life, being late is worse. We did a column some time back in which we wrote that the two saddest word in the English language are “too late.” Nor do I accept the line that ‘a bad excuse is better than none.’ ‘All the world loves a lover’ … I don’t think! I know a few ‘exes’ who would beg to differ!

The greatest cod of all has to be that ‘hard work never killed anybody.’ I bet that you all have been told that one – and I’ll double the bet that when you were given that piece of false information, it was you who was being exhorted to greater efforts – and not the beholder of such wisdom?

The fact is that hard work has killed an awful lot of people since man first decided that just hunting for enough food to eat wasn’t enough.

The World Health Organisation suggests that three-quarters of a million people die each year from strokes and heart disease, brought on by working long hours. They classify anything over 55 hours as working long hours. I could give a counter-argument, or try to justify ‘long hours’, but we’ll leave that one be for the moment.

Whatever about working 55 hours being bad for your health; the next time that somebody says to you that ‘hard work never killed anybody’, remind them of the 100,000 men who were worked to death whilst laying the Burma Rail Line.

They say that 10 percent of people overwork, but in a lot of cases this is by choice. Men tend to overwork more than women, (I know, Darling …. I know!) and middle-aged men work the longest.

The new norm of working from home has many obvious advantages, but with the convenience comes additional stress. The work and home-life balance has been blurred and this can lead to stress, lack of sleep and the danger to health as mentioned above.

Someone else added the line somewhere that ‘idleness has slain its thousands’. This just goes to show that extremes in either direction are not the best option. But returning to the primary question about hard work, the bottom line is that hard work can kill – no matter what the old saying says. Like everything else, there are those who are not sure one way or the other as to hard work ever killing anybody – but don’t intend to take the risk! ‘Resting, they say, is responsible for very few casualties!’

Don’t Forget

Hard work never hurts people who don’t do any.