The man with the clipboard is a long-held hero of mine. The individual who wanders about the workplace, clasping a clipboard and looking terribly officious. Sometimes he can keep this level of activity up for days.
No-one approaches him, no-one asks him what he's up to. Which is just as well, as he's actually doing the square root of bugger-all. The clipboard is a shield, deftly deflecting all suspicion. The hi-vis tabard is a variation on the theme; it shouts "Busy Person" while the wearer gently whispers "sloping off for a long lunch".
But I think I've found a modern day equivalent.
I was with a friend yesterday - we'll call him Phil, because that's his name - as he strove to edit something vaguely watchable for a film project I'm involved in. Call it video-wrangling if you like. Phil knows his dissolves from his crossfades and dealt with the foolish requests coming from Mike and me with infinite, Zen-like calm. A bit like Yoda, but with Adobe Premiere Pro instead of the Force.
There was the odd pause as his computer redrew the work he'd just edited, with the on-screen message "Please wait, rendering video". It was nothing too disruptive, just the odd few seconds here and there.
"That's nothing," said Phil, "when I was at college I did computer animation, but it was pretty much early days for the technology. To do three or four seconds of footage, your computer might have been rendering for hours."
Occasionally Phil and his colleagues would nip out to the pub rather than babysit the machinery. If ever they were caught by a lecturer, they could legitimately claim to be mid-project. "Just rendering," they'd say. "That's what we're doing. We're rendering."
The clipboard has a worthy replacement.