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01/19/2007 Archived Entry: "The joy of a Friday without a crisis"

IT'S EASY TO FORGET HOW NICE ORDINARY LIFE CAN BE. It's Friday evening. I got an email a couple of hours ago from an editor. He needed me to cut five paragraphs out of my latest article. And not that I should hurry or anything, but he'd already sent the publication off to the printer and would email the printer my new copy as soon as he received it.

Nothing like a little pressure.

No problem, though. Five paragraphs turned out to be very easy to cut, once I quit fretting and just did it. The article was improved by the tightening. And all's well.

But the experience reminded me that, for Friday after Friday for a very long time, no clients have had any crises. I've lucked myself into the sort of work where, if a crisis does come up, there are usually weeks, or at least days, to resolve it. But I can look back on years, with various clients, where the Friday Afternoon Crisis was a regular part of doing business.

It was usually very headstrong clients. "Self-made man" types. The most memorable one had the kind of wealth that people don't merely admire, they worship. (Oddly enough, with my hillbilly working class background, two people who were at one time or another in the Forbes top 20 have been close acquaintances, if not exactly friends.) Every Friday at 4:30, the Crisis Clients could be counted upon to manufacture a total hair-pulling panic -- either one that would keep a dozen people scrambling all weekend at home, or one that would keep those same dozen people cooling their heels outside the Great One's office door until 3 or 4:00 in the morning. Maybe you've been there, too? I'll bet you have.

It was a game. A poor, sad game. And even in my 20s when I thought the workaholic fast-lane was the right place to be, I couldn't understand why intelligent, educated people, some well up into middle age and quite successful in their own right, would agree to dance so pathetically -- and so endlessly -- to someone else's off-key tune. After about six months of it, I knew I'd find a way out of it. But some of those guys had been doing it for 20 years or more.

My life is so peaceful now I'd forgotten all that. Boy, I could tell some stories. That one client pulled some larger-than-life stunts. People around him literally didn't know what continent they'd be on Saturday morning after a Friday Crisis. Great stories. Lousy way to live. Life is so much better without all that.

And yet, as you do, I've just come to take the peace for granted. It's even a little boring at times. But you know, boring is preferable to a lot of other things. It was good to get such a small taste of a reminder tonight, just to make me appreciate the peace.

This must be kind of what it's like when you live in a free country. Easy to forget how painful it is to be pushed around all the time to suit someone else's whim and will. Easy to forget how very arbitrary orders and demands can become when the powerful, but insecure, set out to control the less powerful. Life is good. You take it for granted.

Wouldn't it be nice?

Posted by Claire @ 08:06 PM CST

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