Slakrzz Inc Part 1
Outline of a movie whose “high concept” was struck by the pandemic lockdown
Two young slackers are constantly nagged by their families for not being in any kind of work, education or training. To escape this, they set up a business specializing in the jobs for which slackers are ideal (such as testing beds and couches) and employ themselves in it. The business takes off and they start recruiting other slackers. With the help of two more energetic girlfriends they incorporate it, make it a brand and acquire a special niche in the labour market. It grows and grows – and our two heroes find themselves working flat out, much harder than they would if they had given in to the nagging and gone into conventional jobs or education. But finally with the help of the girlfriends they recruit good executives to do all the boring “numbers and all that other stuff,” leaving them free as joint chairmen of the board to run the corporation from the top floor, horizontal on the same couches where they began.
We meet J and T (they are too slack to use their full first names of Jeremy and Timothy or even the short forms Jerry and Timmy) on the couch in their respective homes. They work the remote controls of their home entertainment systems for some time, but nothing entertains them. Their respective phones ring. They look at the number calling, fail to recognize it, and ignore it. Eventually one calls the other, who recognizes the number and picks up. They have a long aimless phone conversation with each other. They both speculate on the ancient days in their parents’ time when phones had no number recognition systems. “Geez,” says one, “you had to pick up for anybody!”
Their conversation is interrupted when each receives a blast of nagging from their respective mothers. When are they going to get up and do something with their lives? J promises to think about it tomorrow. T begs his mother to get off his back, allowing her to shoot back “I will when you get off yours.”
Their mothers force J and T upright and mobile by running their vacuum cleaners. They are forced to escape outdoors, into a local park. They discover that their usual bench has been removed. Angrily they trudge to one twenty yards away. They compare notes about the vacuum cleaners – totally unnecessary because their houses are spotless – and agree that their mothers use an especially noisy model with added guilt. Idly, they discuss the concept of noiseless vacuum cleaners. Maybe they could test them for the makers. If they could continue napping on the couch with the vacuum cleaner at full Mom power it must be a good one.
This is their Eureka moment. They realize that as slackers they are ideal for certain kinds of jobs. Maybe they could sell themselves in this way, and end the nagging and the guilt trips.
They test the market for their services, beginning with the obvious choices of testing beds and couches. They quickly branch out into other relaxation products, such as spas and home entertainment systems, and into remote controls and voice-activated command systems.
Conversely, they offer themselves to test energy drinks. If the product induces them off the couch, it must be effective.
Before long, they have more work than they can handle and start recruiting their slacker friends. They set up a slacker co-operative at J’s home. They have a simple standard interview for applicants, in which all lie down: “what are you trying to avoid – a job, college, a course? Which sports do you not play? Have you ever been indicted for a felony?” They reject drinkers and stoners. They want only dedicated slackers, who can meet their standards of inactivity without artificial help.
They think of new things to test. Leisurewear. Instant meals. Pizza and other food delivery services. Easy-to-assemble products.
They offer slackers to test films and TV shows (how quickly will they fall asleep or switch to something else with the remote?) They form a slacker “focus group” for political parties and other campaigning organizations fighting apathy. As with energy drinks, if a slogan or campaign turns slackers into activists, it must be good.
Two of their friends give them other counter-intuitive ideas.
They offer the Ultimate Slob as a model for Smart-Casual clothing. If it can make him look good without effort it must be a great design.
They offer the Total Zonk, their most inert friend, to test motion detectors. If they can detect movement in him, they must be ultra-sensitive.
They realize that there is a big market for personal slacker services in their local community. Namely:
House sitting and watering plants (but not active gardening)
Minding pets (all models of cats, birds, fish, reptiles or insects, upper limit on size of dogs which require walking)
Child minding (if potty trained). Slackers prove to be ideal babysitters for over-active small children and those who demand constant attention. They refuse to fetch drinks of water, look for lost toys or deal with monsters under the bed – encouraging children themselves to take responsibility for these.
Above all, slackers develop a major service offering in waiting for deliveries and service persons for people who want to go out to work or social life. So long as there is a couch on the premises, the slacker does not fret if the promised delivery or service person is late.
Against their inclinations, J and T have to behave more and more like executives as their business grows. Finance and administration are irksome. Above all, they have to impose discipline on their fellow-slackers. Whatever else they do, they must turn up on time for clients. They threaten instant dismissal for being late. The threat usually works – would anyone else offer a slacker the chance to lie on someone’s couch all day and get paid? But sometimes J and T have to use the ultimate sanction: “Mom, we need you!” The mothers drive the slacker out of their comfortable headquarters with the extra-noisy vacuum cleaners.
There are some hiccups in their business.
The Ultimate Slob turns into a fashionista and a diva perfectionist. He brings out his own label.
A house sitter is so repelled by the décor of the client that he changes it successfully and moves into the interior design business.
One of the pet minders is heartbroken by the death of one of his charges and quits the business to study veterinary medicine.
Worst of all, a child minder is so depressed by the mindless cartoons that he makes his charge watch that he takes him outdoors to run around.
Despite these hiccups, the business is expanding rapidly and they need more and more slackers to sustain it. J worries that they cannot seem to find any female slackers. T tells him there are none. Women work. “Whose notes did you borrow at school? A nerd’s or a girl’s.”
At which point, of course, they get a visit from two attractive young women. They stand up, and force a few other waiting slackers to do the same. J and T wait around, for once embarrassed by the slacker ambience. J finally invites the visitors to join him and T “in our conference suite” (the family dining room.) They start the standard applicants interview (much more formally than usual, on dining chairs) but the young women cut them off. They are not there for slacker jobs. “You guys have a great business, but you need us.”
Helen is an accountancy major. She can handle all that numbers stuff. They need to incorporate, generate reliable records, and use them to understand the business.
Laura is a marketing major. She will make them a brand. For starters, what is the business called now? “Rent-a-slacker.” She is scornful. It’s clunky. Drop Rent-a. Everyone knows they’re not lending out slackers for free. And how are they spelling “slacker”? S-L-A-C-K-E-R. “Puh-lease! Is that how a slacker would spell it out? Seven letters – he’d be asleep long before he finished. Let’s drop the C and the E – they’re doing nothing. Now we have SLAKR. Problem – it’s in use already. And there’s two of you. SLAKRS? That’s in use too. Make that second S a Z? SLAKRZ. Also in use. So let’s add three Zs to the end. SLAKRZZZ. Not only makes you plural but tells everyone of your awesome powers of taking a nap.”
SLAKRZZZ Incorporated. J and T are taken with the name – and with Helen and Laura.