Many writers who work in business full-time want to do a good job, but also want to have the energy left to do something else. Human Resource departments talk about “work-life” balance, but this well-meaning philosophy can easily be thwarted by the infamous “manager who never sleeps.” Luckily these strange creatures usually don’t manage writers directly, but you need to be aware of them to make sure you avoid them whenever possible.
Is It a Physical or a Mental Problem?
A good friend of mine gave birth to one of these oddities. She knew she had an anomaly on her hands early on because her tiny daughter would cry if you tried to tie her shoelaces and insisted on tying them herself. She also considered taking her daughter to a child psychiatrist because she had trouble keeping friends. She was always telling the neighborhood kids exactly what to do. Guess where this is headed?
Her daughter is now one of those women you read about in the media who “have it all.” She graduated from an Ivy League college cum laude where she waited tables, worked on the college newspaper, and tutored disadvantaged children (instead of sleeping). She now has a high paying executive job, travels regularly on business, is happily married with two brilliant children, owns two beautiful homes, does her own cooking and landscaping, and hits the gym every day at 6 am. Don’t you just hate people like that?
I always tell my friend that knowing her daughter exists convinced me that I will never succeed at anything, although there is a dark side. One day my friend and her daughter were driving past a local first-class nursing home when her daughter piped up, “I think that’s where we will put you when the time comes, Mom!” I realize this is a simple statement of fact and the daughter was just thinking ahead, but my blood ran cold anyway.
Other Impossible Role Models
I heard about two other non-sleepers from grumbling mid-level managers at companies where I worked. Both were high echelon: the woman was a senior vice president and the man a corporate lawyer. The woman started as a salesperson and then opened her own business with her husband, sold it for several million dollars, and then returned to corporate life, possibly to take advantage of pregnancy leave benefits. She seemed always to be pregnant when we worked for the same company, and when our division was sold off, the high-tech parent company kept her. After all, how many high-energy females who never sleep have engineering degrees and model families?
I actually the met the male of the “never sleep” species myself, and was smart enough to stay out of his direct path. He was the lead corporate legal counsel and I corresponded with him via email (usually in the middle of the night, of course – do you think these people could be vampires?). He was very charming and very smart, and he was not only up to his ears in legal issues, but was also mayor of the town where he lived! I heard him give a presentation once, and needless to say, it was perfect.
One of the lawyers who worked for him directly did not find him as charming as I did. They went on a business trip to Europe together, and my friend hoped to catch at least a glimpse of London, Paris, and Rome. Unfortunately, when they were not in meetings, the charming non-sleeper insisted on working. All my friend saw were the insides of hotel rooms, corporate offices, and taxis on the way back and forth to the airport. Work-life balance was totally ignored.