Curtis Johnson, a 27-year-old professional who prides himself on working smart but definitely not hard, stumbled upon a highly effective means of procrastinating at work when, a little while before a big department meeting at which Curtis was expected to present, his manager, new mother Laura Teretszky, excused herself to the company's private room to "pump."
It took Curtis, who has little interest in babies or the birthing process, a minute to put together that Laura meant that she would be pumping milk from her breasts. But put it together he did, and, when Laura returned from the private room looking appropriately drained, he inquired out of politeness how the baby was doing.
Forty-five minutes later, Laura had rescheduled their meeting and was still chattering about her infant, Miles, and the joys and challenges of being a parent.
"I knew right then I was onto something," said Curtis, who ended up having his least pressured workday ever thanks to frequent, extenuated chats about little Miles.
Not wanting to be sexist, Curtis decided to test out his new tactic on a male coworker, Alex Martinez, whose wife, Curtis vaguely recalled, had had a baby several months ago.
"Turned out it was actually eleven months ago," said Curtis, who covered with Alex by saying that he'd been meaning to ask about the baby, but had been so busy at work, that he hadn't gotten around to it.
That was all it took. Alex gushed about his son, Victor, filled Curtis in on what it was like to be a first-time father, and apologized for going on and on.
"No need to apologize," Curtis told him. "It's exciting stuff!"
Recognizing a prime opportunity, Curtis began asking everyone at work about their young children, especially any babies, and his openness to hearing about parental life spread like wildfire. Since then, he's had to do hardly any work at all at his job. And, much to his own surprise, he has developed a reputation as loving kids, making him the go-to audience for coworkers' baby photos, videos, funny stories, and real-time updates on the miraculous progress various little ones are making with regard to crawling, speaking, eating, walking, and sleeping patterns.
"It's a whole new life," says Curtis. "The stories are really boring, of course, but not quite as boring as work. And I've learned so much. I feel like the whole process has made me mature a lot."
Enough that perhaps he, himself, will decide one day to spawn some little ones of his own?
"Fuck no," said Curtis. "Do you know what that's actually like? There's no way in hell."