The Corporate Nanny State

Just the other morning in the office break room, I was overly tired and pouring myself a cup of “complimentary coffee”. A co-worker of mine swept in with some unnatural morning sunshine and made the comment, “Kick-starting your work ethic?”

“I guess,” I offered ambivalently.

She looked a little puzzled and said, “I thought you were really happy in your new position?” To this, I responded, “I absolutely love what I do, but I do not love WHEN I have to do it. I am not a morning person – whatsoever.” She seemed to shrug off my qualitative statement and just had to throw in the sarcastic “one explanation fits all” judgment: “There’s always something wrong, isn’t there?”

"Insomnia Sleeper" by John Jude Palencar

“Insomnia Sleeper” by John Jude Palencar

Normally, I would channel my rage into a cutting remark but I was so defeated by my lack of sleep I didn’t have the energy. However, the longer I absorbed that interaction in my mind, the angrier I became…and the more I inspected the thought of whether or not she may be right. After some careful deliberation, I determined that not physically feeling well due to lack of sleep is a very legitimate reason to not be happy. Aside from possibly winning the lottery or being proposed to by a decent partner, I can’t think of many things that would lift my spirits enough to change the fact that my bones feel like old iron pots and my skin hurts.

My mind made a leap-frog to an even bigger issue: Why the hell do people who have good work ethics and do their jobs well have to be at a prescribed building between certain hours of the day at all? Especially if they aren’t dealing with outside clients? And even if they are and 90% of the communication takes place by email, why can’t this be done from home? Heck, we even have cell phones that could handle the other 10%. Why are 30+ year old adults treated like toddlers in this day and age? I posed that question to another friend of mine who owns a blossoming business and he said, “Well, unless it is like a retail position, I imagine it is just because most employers don’t trust their workers enough to work from home or to work flexible hours. They think those people will fudge the system or take advantage of them, and honestly, a lot of them do when given the chance.”

Ok, fine. I admit some people may deserve the corporate shackle, but I’ve always been of the impression that if you give people a project and an allotment of time to do it, they either perform well or they don’t. And if they don’t, you get rid of them. I mean, if people weren’t actually working and projects were not getting done, someone is going to notice, right? Maybe I don’t know enough about the business end of it but it sure seems like allowing an employee some flexibility would mean a happier employee.

And after all, don’t you want someone who loves their job to do it when they feel their best? Seems like a logical way to improve your business, but I guess we’ll just keep doing things the way they’ve done them for hundreds of years because it’s too dangerous to think what might be actually good for the person could actually be good for your business.

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My Prison Is Made of Full Spectrum Sunlight

All my life I’ve been a nocturnal creature. As I unravel my memory, I can look back and recall that I have always loved the night with its palpable silence and soft, velveteen darkness.

Rousseau

“La Bohémienne endormie (The Sleeping Gypsy)”
by Henri Rousseau. 1897.

Most of my friends were overjoyed for me when I accepted a daytime position in 2011, however I often feel as though I regret that decision. They said my dating life would improve and my social calendar would expand, but they really haven’t. I can certainly now attend more “happy hours” after work, but I often feel too tired to fully engage with people at these events, and most of the time I am watching the clock so I can get home and go to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s like subjecting myself to a government-imposed curfew – as if I live in a police state.

Although I cannot specify exactly what it is about the night that I find so alluring, I can definitely speculate…

I do know I enjoy the fact that planet feels a little bit more mine; I don’t have to share as many things like road space, grocery store lines, or internet bandwidth. I can open my windows without the constant droning of Seattle’s snarled traffic or the occasional ambulance wail. When driving, I can hit all the green lights if I time it just right. No stopping. No waiting. The quietness of each shadow is a balm and I can hear my thoughts like greedy dwarves working deep in the mines. The absence of light relaxes my tired eyes, whereas the daggers of sun feel like blasts of hot sand. After midnight, I feel like my mind is fully ripe – pregnant with mental juices and surreal visions for illustration or forging on my word anvil.

There isn’t much company, save for the moon: a friendly nightwatchman perched in the sky. Sometimes he’s wrapped in a gauze of clouds like a harmless drop of sun tucked in a cotton ball. On nights when the overcast skies of the Pacific Northwest hang like a ghostly ceiling over this city, the ambient light of the power grid echos off of it like an old electric blanket.

Yes, I miss the night. It feels like a beautiful language I once knew by heart but have now forgotten thanks to the processes of age and evaporation. Nowadays, I feel forced to sleep through its dark magnificence like a parent who has to work two full-time jobs to raise a family, and while honoring those commitments never gets to see their children grow-up into amazing human beings.

I often feel the best things in life pass us by while we are living by the rules of others.

A chain that runs from 8 to 5 can end up binding an entire life.