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A case for monotony

Most women without specific and well-defined qualifications, when asked what they can do to help in, say, some voluntary social work, apparently always insist that they are very good organizers. It seems our sex is so convinced of its flair for administration, so sure it can direct, inspire, methodize, and generally push people around, that every woman in the land would be at a desk telephoning some other woman at another desk if given the chance.

This assumption, that all women like responsibility, is false. There is at least a handful of us, a silent unsung minority, who positively dislike the idea of leadership, who abhor the thought of taking a meeting or making a speech, and who have never dreamed of saying, ''Leave it to me!'' Our proclivity for opting out of everything that might smack of leadership has probably turned us into very bad citizens, but it has kept us remarkably contented.

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And useful. For along with not wanting to lead we have this definite, if curious, desire to participate in the most boring activities imaginable.

Should you, for instance, wish to address 4,000 envelopes by Thursday evening , I will sit down at a table and do it for you, legibly and methodically, listening meanwhile to some delightful baroque music played on a lute and a rebec, or perhaps half watching the third repeat of ''Dallas.'' I will even complete the good work by stuffing 4,000 appeals for help into the aforesaid envelopes.

For what I and my crowd crave is monotony. It is popularly supposed that three-quarters of industrial strife stems from the awful monotony of most jobs, but to us the thought of just standing still pressing a button, or regularly moving an object from A to B seems highly attractive. When we look back on our unambitious lives we can see that much of our happiness has come from repetition , from sticking on hundreds of stamps, or counting votes, or stapling papers together, or putting labels on bottles or elastic bands round the tops of jam jars.

As we do these menial tasks - and of course we prefer there to be a bit of a challenge attached to them, such as a nearby deadline or enough peas to be shelled for an army brigade - our thoughts rove delightfully. Friends who are dismayed at our lack of initiative do not realize that doing mechanical jobs leaves our minds to float freely, to soar to heavenly heights, feeding there on ambrosial thoughts which will eventually be put to the good use of mankind.

Not always, perhaps, do we ponder the mutability of earthly greatness: Sometimes we wonder what to have for lunch. But there is always the chance, as we methodically punch holes in typing paper or go on and on dead-heading the rhododendrons that some Great Idea will come to us, a marvelous, beautiful, world-saving, revolutionary Thought.

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