Friday, July 17, 2009

Humor Me: Sleeping on the job

By MATT WIXON

As your body calls out for its afternoon caffeine fix, the boss calls for a meeting. Moments later, you and your colleagues are in the conference room, daydreaming about 5 p.m. as the boss talks about the company’s new policy on Post-it notes.

Or maybe he’s talking about plans to stripe the parking lot with yellow paint instead of white. Or announcing that, after a six-month study, management has decided to change a comma to a semicolon in the company’s mission statement.

Whatever the topic, it’s one of those essential meetings. And that’s when it hits you. An elephant has landed on your eyelids and you are being pulled into the Darth Vader-like grip of sleep -– and perhaps unemployment, if the boss sees you.

You try to resist the dark side, staring hard at the boss and focusing on every word:

And furthermore, we feel we can improve our performance vector and overall synergy with the use of Helvetica 10-point bold in ALL office memos ...

You fight it, but it’s soooo difficult to keep your eyes open. You start to regret your decision to stay late at the karaoke bar to perfect the high notes on "Dream Weaver." But maybe this drowsiness isn’t your fault. Maybe it’s just the lulling hum of the fluorescent lights and the tick-tock lullaby from the clock above your head.

You open your eyes wide and blink hard. "This is ridiculous," you think to yourself. "I just need to keep my eyes open."

Sure, it sounds easy. But you’re in the gravitational pull of sweet sleep, the most powerful force in the world. That’s right: The most powerful force in the world.

Some people say it’s money that makes the world go around, and there certainly is truth to that. Lottos have a huge following, and studies have shown that the tilt of the Earth’s axis depends on the location of Donald Trump's ego.

Other people say sex is the world’s most powerful force, and yes, adult movies make a gazillion dollars a year. And of course there was Baywatch, the show lasted 12 years with about four recycled plots. Actually, Baywatch didn’t need storylines at all -- just a 60-minute loop of slow-motion beach running.

Very powerful. But the lure of the dark side, the force that can make a table in the conference room feel like a downy pillow, is much more powerful. The proof:

You’ve spent years putting in long hours to build your career. Going into work on weekends. Laughing at the boss’ bad jokes. Pretending you actually care about how he did on the back nine at his private golf club that defines you as “pond scum.”

It will all be for nothing if the boss sees your head flopping at the end of the table.

But the power of the dark side has taken over your brain. You think, maybe if I just close one eye, I’ll make it through this meeting. Maybe if I just turn my head a little toward the back wall, away from the boss, I could shut my eyes for a couple of seconds.

Just a couple of seconds, huh? Our brains are so naïve when sleep calls.

Suddenly, the boss’ voice fades into a drone mumbling that sounds like the teacher talking to Charlie Brown: “wha wha wha, bla bla, blabla.” Your head tilts downward, sucked into the vortex of dreamland. Then, just as your face is about to hit the table in front of you, your head jerks back up and you think, "What the heck just happened?"

What happened was a very close call. You’re terrified it will happen again, but you can’t stop it. Your head gets heavy, you start falling forward, and ...

OH SWEET MERCY, it sounds like the boss is finally wrapping things up.

So in conclusion, please remember to only use the yellow highlighters with internal memos and reserve the pink highlighters for highlighting faxes. We’ll discuss it more tomorrow, when we have a meeting to discuss future meetings. Thanks everyone.

You return to your cubicle, filled with relief. But you’re also shaken by the experience -- shaken by the thought that, had the meeting lasted a few more minutes, you would’ve been drooling on the conference table.

So you decide to show your dedication, at least for the last three hours of the day. You will be productive. You will do some good ol’ fashioned hard work.

Good for you. And good luck with that, because the Dark Side will never stop pulling you in. Except at about 2 a.m. tomorrow morning, when you're lying awake in bed telling yourself you need to get some sleep so you won't be a walking zombie the next day.

In that case, drink a little warm milk while reading a stack of office memos. That should knock you out.

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