April 18, 2011
Dear Marketplace Friend,
"Only in the federal government would you double up on workers, averaging $161,000 per year in salary and benefits, that aren’t doing their job." That’s according to Rep. John Mica (D-FL), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He’s reacting to the avalanche of reports of air traffic controllers who can’t stay awake on the job. As a guy who flies 160,000 miles/year, it’s always reassuring to know that your survival is secure in the hands of a sleeping union professional…
Last week, the Wall Street Journal addressed the question, before it became a question. In their weekend Personal Journal, the lead article was provocative: “The Sleepless Elite." It snagged me…
Summary: there are three kinds of people around you today. First, largest group: Normal Sleepers. They comprise about two-thirds of the world, and they have “normal sleep needs.” You read about them in the medicine-for-the-masses articles: “you need 7-9 hours of sleep… or else.” That’s the mantra; anyone logging less is a danger to themselves and others.
Group 2: the Wannabe Short Sleeper. Line a third of Americans up in that queue. With less than seven hours a night, they live with chronic sleep deprivation. Put the Air Traffic Controllers in that category; they’re posers, many of them. Not cut out for the job; one by one, they are being cut off from the job, once exposed as nappers. Does that make them members of a “sleeper cell?”
Last group, though a very small one: Short Sleepers. About 1% to 3% of the population, “they function well on less than six hours of sleep… tend to be unusually energetic and outgoing. Their moods are upbeat; they have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.” The article goes on to say that “there is currently no way people can teach themselves to be Short Sleepers…” Seems like the FAA needs to find a way to attract those SS folks to work the control towers!
Sleep Trumps Responsibility.
That isn’t a nowadays-only headline; it was one of the sidebar stories about 1970 years ago, leading up to Easter.
Jesus was on his way from the Upper Room to the Cross, and had a critical stop to make in Gethsemane, on the way. Fervent prayer was mission critical for him, and he knew it. It was a private conversation, between him and his Father, but his closest friends – Peter, James and John – were to stand guard during his supplication. He stationed them strategically, and told them to stay alert.
“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’” (Mark 14:37-42).
As important as the work of our Air Traffic Controllers is, their assignment is minor league compared to the guard duty assigned to Jesus’ Three Amigos. They were thrashed… and they had enough wine at the Seder that night to make them mellow. Given the task of protecting the Messiah, they were spiritually committed, but physically compromised. Wannabe Short Sleepers…
There is a mindset behind the metaphor; Paul knew that when he wrote to the Thessalonian believers: “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled…” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6)
Put me down as one of those Short Sleepers; my 4 hours, 23 minutes last night was more than enough. My plan, today: be alert and self-controlled. How about you?