The vast, humid, domesticated swamps of Florida are blanketed with busy highways.
The heat, traffic, and constant rain have a crushing effect on our infrastructure. Consequently, I’ll often see government workers doing repairs on the side of the road. I know they’re government employees, specifically, because they often have five people doing a one-person job.
I saw three people painting one fire hydrant at the same time. Each of them had a tiny paintbrush, slowly finishing the paint job.
I saw four people with a big water hose. Two were holding a hose with one hand while checking their phone. One was watching. One was actually spraying. Mind, you, this all happened in full view of passing cars. There was no shame. Having worked in private construction, I know this would have never flown with a field manager.
Yes, many government workers do great work. Yet the reputation of people coasting isn’t without merit. Every friend I have in government attests to this fact. It’s one reason so many of us groan when paying taxes.
But government waste isn’t confined to the United States.
One man in Spain took his lack of duty to a historic low. And it wasn’t just his absenteeism that was shocking, it was what he was doing in his time off.
A Job That Went Unattended
Carlos Recio was the archive director in Valencia’s provincial government. He received government documents. Then he digitized and organized those files. It was a simple job with a useful purpose. On paper, he was supposed to arrive at 7:30 AM and leave the office at 3:30 PM. Yet, within the first year, employees protested this wasn’t happening.
Allegedly, he was showing up at 7:30 AM, clocking in, leaving to go home, then returning to clock out at 3:30 PM. Then he’d return home after a hard day's work.
This continued for a full decade until a news outlet, El Mundo, broke his story. Shortly thereafter, he was fired. He’d spent a full ten years not at his office, getting paid every day just to clock in and out.
Making his absence worse, he was making €50,000 per year. It was fantastic pay and more than double Spain’s national average.
A news reporter confronted him to ask for his side of the story and he claimed “I have only done what they have asked me to do.”
He added, “I do documentation work out of the office, the work of a slave. Working like a slave means that I work so that others get the fruit of my labor.”
An investigation revealed he’d done literally no work and had never even sat at the desk assigned to him.
He also hadn’t signed into the company network in the previous six years.
Where His Free Time Was Going?
This is where his absence gets colorful. Journalists discovered Recio was running a male brothel out of his home during daytime hours.
People came and went as he and his employees serviced clients. They were also implicated in several blackmail scandals.
Additionally, he worked on his erotic comics between customer visits. After losing his job, he even attempted to do an art show titled, “Love for Valencia: the works of a man who never worked”
The show was canceled by regional authorities when they found out Recio was the artist.
The Aftermath and Takeaway
He was fired in 2018. The case drew international attention as a highlight of government waste. To the anger of the public, Recio was never prosecuted as his actions weren’t considered criminal.
The valencia tribunal gave a strong criticism of the provincial government, stating that none of these events would have occurred “Without the acquiescence or the disinterest of the administration for which he worked.”
Recio was given a formal nine-year ban from government service. But don’t expect him to land a job in year ten.
Funny as this story sounds, it’s actually rather troubling. People slave away in their day jobs and pay taxes.
More than €500,000 of those hard-earned tax dollars paid for someone to goof off. Additionally, those services still need to be delivered.
The one positive in all this is that the case drew more public scrutiny to their provincial government. Candidly, more than one head should have rolled for such an extreme offense. If you had to work several extra weeks unpaid to pay for someone to goof off, you’d be salty too.
As a general rule of thumb, I’d recommend you spend your work hours doing the job they paid you for. First, because it’s the right thing to do. Second, because, otherwise, you’ll just be giving them a reason to fire you, unless you were Carlos Recio.
So in hindsight, I suppose five guys holding a garden hose might seem like a waste of resources and worthy of annoyance. But it could always be worse. At least they are doing something.
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