A Man For No Seasons
(FORTUNE Magazine) – MONDAY, 4 P.M. Dear Diary: If Hackenbush doesn't get off my back, I'm going to rip his nose off. He knows how busy I am, but he keeps this drip-drip-drip going on the Needleman situation. I'm well aware that things remain to be done and that the ball is in my court. I've just got to sit down and write out the rationale so that the big boys can sink their few remaining teeth into it, shake it back and forth, and spit it out in some form or another.
The thing is, I can't work. It's too damn cold outside. I woke up this morning ready to hit the ground running, but how are you supposed to hit it if it's covered with six inches of ice? I got out to my car and found that overnight some mix of rain and sleet and snow had coated it the way red caramel coats a candy apple. I ran my scraper over the glassy envelope, and it skittered off. I dug into the coating, and the scraper broke in two. That was discouraging, so I went inside and had another cup of coffee to think about things.
Back outside I went to work on my sorry vehicle, but I realized I was up to my ankles in harsh, crusty snow that seeped over the tops of my wingtips and into my socks. That did not feel good, so I went inside, changed my socks, put on boots, and went back out to attack my car again. This time just enough crud slipped off the windshield to let me get going. But I was frozen inside and out and didn't feel like addressing the Needleman situation when I got to the office. Before I knew it, lunchtime was upon me, and it was too late to start a major project anyhow.
We'll get to it tomorrow! Sure, we will!
TUESDAY, 9 A.M. I'm sitting here in my office looking out the window and wondering why I'm the one who always has to do stuff. It's so friggin' cold outside. I had to walk across town for a breakfast this morning, and by the time I got back to the building my teeth were chattering. Several people said good morning to me before I realized that my eyes and nose were running. Put that together with my stupid-looking winter hat, and I must have looked like one of the guys from the mailroom. How can I work with that image in my head? I'm going to take a walk to the cafeteria and have a cup of herbal tea.
WEDNESDAY, noon. I'm going to L.A. tomorrow! It's nice and warm there, I hear. Obviously I can't get anything done now. I can never get my mind organized the day before a trip!
THURSDAY, 9:30 A.M. Somewhere over Missouri: Okay, I'm gonna open the Needleman folder right now. Three uninterrupted hours to work this project through from top to bottom. I'll just take a little sip of this nice hot coffee. I've already had a substantial nap, which is only natural because I had to get up so early to make the flight.
Page one! Hmm. That's interesting. So is the movie they're showing. Gee, Gwyneth Paltrow is really pretty.
THURSDAY, 10:30 A.M. L.A. time. Boy, Hackenbush is mad at me. He was kind of unpleasant. I know it's inconvenient for him to have me all the way out here, but it's not as if I went to L.A. to escape the weather or anything, or that I can't do excellent work while I'm out here. I'm going to show him what's what and break the back of the Needleman white paper! Right after I open this window ...
THURSDAY, 6 P.M. L.A. time. What a lovely day. Right after I wrote of my good intentions this morning, I took the opportunity to step outside and get a breath of air before I got down with Needleman. Six hours later I realized I hadn't done a stitch of work. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing in from the ocean, with just a hint of salt behind the moist scent of tropical vegetation. I'm feelin' those good vibrations ... they're giving me excitations ... la de da de dum dum de dum ...
FRIDAY 3 P.M. L.A. time. I don't really think it was appropriate for Hackenbush to make me come home. I was going to go back Monday morning anyhow. It's impossible to work in Los Angeles. Did you know that everybody sort of moves it down a notch in the middle of the afternoon, right after ascertaining that New York has gone home? It's one of the dirty little secrets out here. No point in trying to work now. That's what airplanes are for, right?
SATURDAY MORNING, on the plane home. No, I don't want a hot towel. No, I don't want any nuts or a personal DVD player. I just want to do what I came here to do, in the only place in the universe where a guy can get a little work done--the airplane between here and there, the library in the sky. Needleman, here I come!
Yeah! This is a great place to work! Just listen to the hum of the jet engines and the hiss of the air inside the cabin, and it's kinda toasty in here, isn't it? Particularly under this blanket they provide and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...
New York CITY, about five hours later. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Stanley Bing is an executive at a FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He is the author of two new books: The Big Bing, a collection of essays, and You Look Nice Today, a novel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.