SHOJI Morimoto, a 38-year-old Japanese with a postgraduate degree in physics from Osaka University, is known as Japan's "do nothing" man. He resigned from his job when told by management that he was of no value to the organization. "I was often told I wasn't doing enough or that I wasn't doing anything," he also said in an interview.
That's how he started offering himself in 2018 as a companion for Tokyoites who don't want to be alone, charging them close to $100 for doing nothing but being there. It's on top of incidental expenses like train or taxi fare, meals and drinks, entrance to museums or trips.
Also known as the Rental Man, Morimoto offers himself as a detached companion by listening and replying only with simple and short answers. At times, he shares a giggle when told a funny story — nothing more than that. It's a perfect situation for Morimoto, who lives in a dual income household with his wife and son.
Rental Man became an ideal solution for clients stuck in fairly difficult situations. They've included a divorcee who hired Morimoto as a dinner companion at her favorite restaurant, a suicidal person who wanted his company at a certain place so that that person could process trauma, and a struggling musician who needed at least a one-person audience for his street performance during a cold evening.
Another regular client was a stressful office worker who worked more than 12 hours a day. Another case involved being a morale-boosting companion to someone scheduled for hemorrhoid surgery.
delivered to your inbox
Morimoto has become famous judging from his 248,000 followers on Twitter plus four books and a manga (comic book), which have inspired another man to create a similar venture with a twist: he advertises himself as an "ugly companion" so that clients can look good.
When I was in elementary school, I read a story about young Juan Tamad (Lazy Johnny), who is known for his extreme laziness that often results in a tragic but comedic situation. One popular story involves Juan encountering a guava tree full of ripe fruits. As he was too lazy to climb the tree, he simply lay on the ground with a gaping mouth, telling the wind to help gravity do its job.
Another story involves his mother instructing him to buy mud crabs from the market. As soon as he bought the crabs, he thought them troublesome to carry so he set the crabs free and told them to follow him home.
Juan's lessons parallel that of Pedro (not his real name), a six-foot, sun-dried fellow with a bit of the looks of a kapre (a Filipino fictional monster). He roams around the church grounds looking for potential benefactors who can provide loose change. At times, Pedro is like Juan, lying almost all morning under a bushy mango tree.
Pedro is a black swan in our place, which is composed of eight different subdivisions populated by middle-class families. Ever since we settled here close to 40 years ago, I've seen no roaming beggars except when Pedro showed up recently. He has a unique way of begging in a discreet manner, showing two palms at waist level.
One time, I chanced upon him entering a two-story-high white and green bungalow with a castle-like facade. I slowed a bit to check, then I went back and forth to process what I learned. The garage appeared to need some serious cleaning, yet I couldn't tell with full certainty if its residents lived below the poverty line.
For one, the garage had a compact Ford SUV, six or seven cat feeding bowls and a sack of branded cat food. It begged a question: If the owner of the house could afford to feed six or seven cats, then why is Pedro begging?
In a 2013 New York Times article, Tony Schwartz said that for ordinary people like you and me who can afford it, "the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less." This means taking time off from a work routine for short afternoon naps, daytime workouts in a gym, coffee breaks and more time away from the office.
This includes longer sleep hours at night and frequent vacations to help boost one's productivity, work performance and more importantly for health. The whole idea is to have an extreme work-life balance. Of course, this advice doesn't apply to Pedro and to Rental Man who are apparently enjoying what they're doing.
As a semiretired management consultant, I know the benefits of doing nothing. I only accept lucrative contracts and instantly reject people who want to pay peanuts for my services — an insult to my 35 years of work experience. Don't get me wrong, however. I give my services for free for those in need, including bankrupt companies and nonprofits.
In conclusion, doing nothing is an easy and practical cure for a problem or problems. In a stressful workplace, if the worker can do "quiet quitting" as a solution, doing nothing may provide another option and a fresh perspective. And if you're asking what kind of buzzwords we're talking about here, I will not hesitate to tell you about "decision avoidance" or simply to postpone making a big decision by being lazy.
Rey Elbo is a business consultant on human resources and total quality management. Chat with him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or send feedback to [email protected] or via https://reyelbo.com.