(old email joke, but you can sometimes observe situations like these for real)
A fellow stopped at a rural petrol station and, after filling his tank, he paid and bought a soft drink. He stood by his car while drinking, and watched a couple of men working along the roadside.
One man would dig a hole slightly less than a metre deep and then move on. the other man came along behind and filled in the hole. while one was digging a new hole, the other was about 8 metres behind filling in the old. The men worked right past the fellow with the soft drink and went on down the road.
“I can’t stand this”, said the man, tossing the can in a rubbish bin and heading down the road towards the men. “Hold it, hold it”, he said to the men. “Can you tell me what’s going on here with this digging?”
“Well, we work for the county council”, one of the men said.
“But one of you is digging a hole and the other is filling it up. You’re not accomplishing anything! Aren’t you wasting the council’s money?”
“You don’t understand, mister”, one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. “Normally there’s three of us – me, Joe and Mike. I dig the hole, Joe sticks in the tree, and Mike here puts the soil back.”
“Yeah”, piped up Mike. “Now just because Joe’s sick, that don’t mean we can’t work, does it?”