Saturday, October 19, 2013

A professional goes home at night.

    Once, years ago, I had the chance to spend some time with Garry Marshall, the TV icon — creator of "Happy Days"  and "The Odd Couple"— and movie director, most notably of "Pretty Woman." 
      He was visiting Northwestern University, his alma mater, and he met with students, as he liked to do. The kids were putting on the Waa-Mu Show, the school's musical and, trying to impress Marshall, told him how they had been up all night, working on the sets.
      "If you were professionals," he told them, "you could go home at night."
      That always stuck in my mind. Not that some evenings you don't have to work late. Not that, at times, work doesn't demand you be away from home—I once spent six weeks abroad for a book. But as a general rule, you do your work, you go home. That's what being a professional means. You do your work when you need to, then you stop working until it's time to work again.
        We forget that with all our devices and constant, 24-hour on-line access. But if you don't pause from working, from time to time, then that will be all you do. Besides, your work suffers then, you burn out, and then you're no good anyway. You lose the thing you're trying to hold onto. 

Photo: The Bar D Wranglers performing at the Bar D Chuckwagon in Durango, Colorado. 


  1. Neil, hasn't been like that for decades for those of us who make a living in the information technology industry.

  2. No? You guys sit around, tossing cards into a hat? Consider yourself lucky.

  3. Neil,

    I'm sorry but I don't get your comment. I don't consider it lucky when managers expect 60-70 hours/week out of staff. Plus, many of us get dumped when we reach middle age in favor of being outsourced.

  4. " hasn't been like that for decades for those of us who make a living in the information technology industry."

    Which sort of proves the point: "You lose the thing you're trying to hold onto."

  5. I note that this was posted at midnight. There is some do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do irony there. That said, I am at work on a Saturday and spend far too many evenings working far more hours than I am 'officially' paid for. The way of the 21st-century world.

  6. @Magda. They're all posted at midnight, automatically. Last night at midnight I was sitting on the Edens, trying to make it back from the Bulls game, caught in that traffic jam behind the potato truck that hit a median at Dempster. Two and a half hours to get home. All told, I'd rather be posting.

  7. Try working smarter not harder all the time. In IT you get little credit for working all night.

    1. Joe Raschke,

      Are you related to the "pointy haired boss" in Dilbert? Maybe, you're a management consultant. The only people that I have ever heard use that phrase are those who are supremely clueless. For example, that was the answer given by the head of the IT department to those wondering how they were supposed to get the same work done and more after he slashed the headcount. Not surprisingly, this idiot's staff had actually increased over time after he started the drive to get the company "lean and mean".

      Given that I have almost 40 years of experience in computing and have worked for several of America's top companies, I do not appreciate your condescension. You obviously do not know what you are talking about. It's not just workaholic managers who inflict these kinds of hours upon others but the relentless layoffs which force more work upon less people.

  8. I did some additional checking on Joe Raschke. It turns out that he is an IT consultant who has all the buzzwords in his self-description and who has no embarrassment about describing himself as a "natural leader" but nary any experience as a "worker bee". "Working smarter not harder" is today's equivalent of Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake".

  9. @David. I'm with you. Randomly popping up on people's blog, preening about one's supposed smartness, it itself not smart. I'm a smart guy, and sometimes I have to work very hard. That said, David, you're giving him more attention than he probably deserves. One can spend one's life fending off trolls.

  10. Neil,
    You are right. I do go overboard at times but you have to remember that I've spent years having to get applications working again after the management gurus and consultants did their mischief. However, I'll shut up for now before I get on my soap box again.

  11. Hmm. My daughter is IT. Senior business systems analyst. Early days included 24hr availability. Sometimes still does.She spends a deal of time out of town. Her "work smarter" mindset got IT to grab her up. Got her traveling to corporate in Canada, pays the bills and causes her to work harder. Sooo....I donno what Dave does in IT..


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