Monday, November 8, 2010

Spontaneous Combustion

     “The only thing that has to be finished by next Tuesday is next Monday.”  ~Jennifer Yane
     Apparently Jennifer Yane has never heard of spontaneous human combustion. Those wacky scientists have not yet determined exactly how or why humans spontaneously melt into piles of ash, but I think I know the reason. It’s deadlines.
     Just think about the word deadline.
     Some history on that word: according to some sources, the etymology or historical origin of “deadline” may relate back to the American Civil war. During that time, armies had no proper facilities for holding prisoners, so they would create a makeshift and inadequate prison (perhaps even draw a line on the ground around a group of prisoners) then warn them that whoever crossed the line would be shot to death. Whoa.
     Nowadays, deadline refers to “the time by which something must be finished or submitted.” Despite its much milder usage, one could argue that today’s barrage of stressful work deadlines might still feel like a sniper with a big maniacal smile on his face is hiding nearby ready and waiting to blast the next person on the wrong side of some so-called important deadline. 
     Personally, I’ve never experienced many deadline difficulties. That is, unless they are actually enforced. My point is this: people aren’t robots and stuff happens. Like really good TV programs for example. (Okay, maybe not the best excuse.) Like mangled hard-drives. Or family emergencies. Even death. Those who enforce excessively rigid and unyielding deadlines should remember that sort of shit just makes God chuckle.
     Folks need lifelines, not deadlines. Overwhelmed workers are less creative, less productive. Not exactly beneficial to the workplace, is it? And although I’m clearly no scientist, I think that when faced with merciless deadlines some people just sit down in an armchair and stare blankly at their TVs and then it happens: they spontaneously combust.
     And the saddest part of all? No one might even notice until it's too late.

14 comments:

Leigh said...

True...but don't you ever find that sometimes your best work is produced under a strict deadline? Far be it from me to promote spontaneous combustion but personally, I don't think I'd get anything done if not for a deadline whether from my boss or self-imposed.

Alittlesprite said...

Another evil...Bottomline. One that cost me and plenty more workers their jobs in this current economic climate.

Nicole said...

I think my kids are very much in tune with the original meaning. I do believe they intend me harm if I don't help them dress a Barbie RIGHT NOW!

Thought-provoking post. Good thing I've already had coffee and can appreciate thought.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Wasn't it Douglas Adams who said something like "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by!" He was notoriously incapable of meeting any publisher's deadline.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Well said.

Missy said...

"Deadline Difficulties" will be in the Cause of Death field on my Death Certificate!
Great post!

dbs said...

@Leigh You have a good point. I'm just irritated by "higher-ups" who treat employees like robots.
@Alittlesprite Well said.
@Nicole Coffee does help.
@DSWS I like him.
@LoC Thanks.
@Missy Don't die. We need your blog.

Artist and Geek said...

Well put. Deadlining. Procrastinating on blogs. Sleep deprivation more likely than spontaneous combustion.

P.S. Seat warmers are unnatural and always startling.

paulsifer42 said...

I sure hope you're wrong. If you're not I may spontaniously combust here in a couple of days. My Lit review is due then and I'm pretty positive that it won't be done... it's been nice knowing you (in case it does happen).

dbs said...

@AaG Don't put it off, procrastinate now.
@paulsifer42 Nice knowing you.

wendy said...

Deadlines are hard to deal with for sure. The whole world it seems will spontaneously combust due to stress of deadlines.

I used to work for a Judge as a court clerk before moving up here. Lots of deadlines.....some people certainly get their panty hose in a wad if they don't get released from jail on time. (tee.hee) So, sorry...chill....I forgot to fax the release papers.

BUT NOW, that I have moved here and married this guy who is a retired fire captain from Calgary, I am retired too. I have no deadlines.........but NOT always a good thing my friend, I don't seem as motivated to get anything done.
I've gotta find a balance

Elly Lou said...

Well shit. I just spent 20 minutes yelling at myself for falling behind schedule. Why didn't I read this 30 min ago? *sigh*

Isn't there a saying too about us being human beings not human doings?

Artist and Geek said...

DBS-thanks for the advice. Today I'm tired and found the can opener in the fridge.

Someone who can't open cans, couldn't comprehend why I suddenly can't either.

dbs said...

@Wendy Balance is good.
@Elly Lou I sigh with you.
@Artist & Geek Doesn't everyone keep their can openers in the fridge?

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