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National Association of Counties • Washington, D.C.      Vol. 34, No. 23 • December 9, 2002

The H.R. Doctor Is In

Land of the Free (cell)!

Hello, my name is Phil, and I’m an addict! Thank You, Mr. Gates, on behalf of the millions of Americans who will never be the same as they once were — prior to their first encounter with the diabolical Microsoft Windows solitaire game “Freecell.”

While the Department of Defense and local law enforcement take action in Columbia, as well as in Columbus, to root out the titans and little people in the drug wars, millions of new addicts to another substance are being added annually. More and more people give up the precious moments of their lives attached to their personal computers moving playing cards around in mindless rhythm in their 73rd game of Freecell that day.

Imagine the sudden withdrawal trauma, which would strike the nation if an enemy were to strike at America’s real favorite pastime and cripple Freecell software all over the country with a computer virus. America’s workforce would be in agony. Unions around the country would threaten job actions over the fact that employers would be expecting the newly available millions of hours in the work place to actually be used for productive work.

The HR Doctor offers a few basic thoughts that might help. I do this in the form of being labeled as a Freecell whistleblower hoping for some protection under federal and state law from the wrath of the Freecell Mafioso! It’s OK to play in occasional brief spurts as long as a therapist or counselor is in the room with you. Play in the middle of the night. Play early in the morning before others in the house wake up. Play, in other words, at times when your communications with other humans will not be adversely affected. For example, during boring moments in county commission meetings. Only kidding.

Actually, the subject of losing oneself in Freecell or any other absorbing pastime is worthy of consideration in the work life and personal life of every one of us. Hobbies, passions, etc. are not valuable to our health and our interpersonal relationships when they become all consuming. Whether it is Freecell or TV watching, the main danger is the same … losing touch with our families and colleagues.

Only later will we realize how much more productive our use of precious life hours could have been. It may well be too late by then to do what we should have been doing instead of playing the game. So, with another apology to Alcoholics Anonymous, begin your new life with less Freecell by focusing on “one day at a time.”

All the best from the recovering HR Doctor!
Phil Rosenberg
The HR Doctor •