Modern Day Idiots
By Cap'n O
APRIL 26, 1999: The old man never finished high school. He worked 44 years in a factory, cleaned a laundromat at night and held a number of other part-time night jobs to support a wife and four kids.
As kids always do, we rebelled when we were teens and just knew that the old man was the biggest dweeb on the planet. We scoffed at his admonition to "do a job right the first time and you won't have to do it again."
I broke into open rebellion one day and demanded of the old man, "Have you no progressive ideas?" when he insisted that I wear clean clothes to school.
But even though I knew the old man's ideas were backward, I agreed with his most frequent and passionate admonition to us: "Get your eight hours of sleep. Sleep is the most important thing."
It turns out that most everything the old man taught us about life was right. The values he instilled in us have always given me an edge, and I'm grateful for his lessons.
That's why I laughed like a maniac recently at an article in The Wall Street Journal that detailed a startling new trend among the movers and shakers of the business world: getting eight hours of sleep a night.
"It's official," the story said. "Sleep, that rare commodity in stressed-out America, is the new status symbol. Once derided as a wimpish failing ... slumber is now being touted as the restorative companion to the creative executive mind."
The story quoted Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos as making this shocking discovery about sleep: "I'm more alert, and I think more clearly. I just feel so much better all day long if I've had eight hours."
The article quoted other high-powered business people as saying that they now think that getting eight hours of sleep is better than the three or four or five they used to get. All said they feel refreshed, revitalized, more alert and capable after sleeping well.
To which I say, no shit.
Rather than extolling the alleged business elite as having made some great discovery, the story should have blasted them for being idiots and losers. All these fools said that their intense business dealings caused them to get by on just a few hours of sleep each day. In other words, in the chase for money, more money and even more money, they've been willing to abuse their bodies in the harshest of ways.
Just try going with a few hours of sleep for a couple of days and see how you feel. See how grouchy you are and what dumb decisions you make.
But what's shocking is that these people, some in their 30s and 40s, and some with advanced college degrees, have only now figured out what a humble machinist and high school dropout knew intuitively: that sleep is an absolute necessity and that if you do without it you will ruin your body and your life.
But I guess it's always been difficult to get some people to understand the value of sleep. Most of my bosses didn't. They always screamed when they found me snoring on the job, and they never bought my protestations that sleep would refresh me and make me a better, more energetic and creative employee.
Even the old man at times wavered in his support of sleep. He threw a hammer at me one afternoon after I yawned, stretched my arms and declared, "Sleep is important, and I'm sleeping--if eight hours are good, 16 are better" when he asked me to do some work around the house.
The cops never appreciated that I was engaging in nature's restorative process one day when I fell asleep at the wheel. Neither did the old lady in the wheelchair that I ran over.
As dumb as The Wall Street Journal's story was, it showed me that there are people who really are as stupid as we thought the old man was. But don't look in machine shops for them. Look in America's board rooms.
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