Here’s a funny example of a duct taper:
The first category is something he calls a duct taper. Rather than fix serious headaches, many organizations take the easy route - they paper over the problem. David has a revealing story from his own life.
GRAEBER: This was quite early on in my time in the U.K. university system. And they had this shelf in my office. I was always a little worried about it. It seemed kind of precarious. And one day, it just completely ripped out of the wall. There was this huge gaping hole in the wall. There was mangled metal, you know, hanging over my desk - so obviously no way I could fix it myself. And so I called buildings and grounds, and, you know, they said, OK, we’ll send a carpenter. And it took about a week and a half for the carpenter to show up, and people in the office were calling; I was calling; everybody was calling, and it became this daily ritual. And I gradually realize, there’s one guy - we always got the same guy - whose entire job seemed to consist of apologizing for the fact that the carpenter is very busy and couldn’t come. And one day, it occurred to me, like, well, why don’t they just fire that guy and hire a second carpenter?
GRAEBER: …You know, because then they won’t need him, right?
GRAEBER: And I mentioned this to various people, and they looked at me like, yeah, right; that would ever happen. And I realize that this is a perfect example of a bullshit job. His job is only necessitated because the system is stupidly constructed. So he’s there to - it’s the equivalent of if you had a leak in the roof, instead of fixing the roof, you hire some guy to empty a bucket every hour. You know, it’s a totally pointless position. And gradually, I realized that in the software industry at least, this is called duct taping. It’s a fairly common usage.