The Unexpected Joys Of Working 2-11
September 22, 2012 Leave a comment
In recent months I have been working in a particularly dull Mossad safe house, in shifts alternating between 9am-6pm and 2pm-11pm. The former is the roughly the conventional workday we all experience at some stage, while the latter brought some opportunity for reflection and comparison.
Why is the average workday shaped like it currently is? To make use of daylight. Today, it still makes sense for farmers and many in construction, but not the modern day post-Edison office worker.
Exposure to sunlight makes us happy and healthy. Sunlight is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm. How horrible it is to spend the loveliest hours of the day stuck in an office or classroom! I felt like that for much of this summer. I feel that way every summer.
And if we exclude time spent sleeping, people simply don’t spend much time in their homes on workdays. Perhaps as little as four hours, morning and evening. So when we are not working, we are left in the dark or the dullest hours of the day, and usually rushing or exhausted.
If the average workday was between 2-11 or 2-10, these drawbacks can be avoided. My total commute to work is about one hour. It would be much less if I had my own car, which is one reason why for most people in London its 37.8 minutes per journey.
I come home from work around midnight, do some bodily maintenance, get my eight hours, and rise around 8:30. It leaves me with four and a half free hours before I have to go to work again. These hours are the best of the day. Here’s one good week for me working 2-11: One day, I was able to lounge around outdoors, read an interesting collection of economic essays as well as an entire Spectator under the sun. The day after, I went to an afternoon piano recital before work. Another day, I attended a public lecture. The day after that I had wine and cheese in a lovely park with a student friend. We lay about like peasants in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Land of Cockaigne before I was obliged to leave.
It would have been better to have more friends around doing this, but unfortunately most were at work during the nicest hours of the day. There was also the fact I couldn’t join my companions for sushi or cocktails after work because our hours were so mismatched, but this could change if we all gave up this 9-5 rule-of-thumb. The only exception were full-time student friends, who do jackshit most of the time anyway. Yet I still hadn’t felt better since my time working in an Israeli factory between the hours of 6am and 2pm. That was due to a good Israeli diet, Mediterranean-style napping, and the fact that it stayed warm and bright well after work.
Working ‘normal’ hours, I would have been rushing about in the morning, and perhaps too tired to bother pursuing a challenging book or activity after coming home. That’s when most people get sucked into the demonic trash of television, because its there and its easy. If its been tough going at work all day, a man may not be in the mood to embrace his wife and children the way he should, and relationships suffer. If you or the kids don’t need to be at work and school until 2pm, you can play ball in the sun, or you can engage in some afternoon delight with your loved one.
Admittedly, this system works best if one goes to bed immediately after coming home from work, so you can make the best of the late morning/early afternoon. Mealtimes need to be adjusted. However, If you want to get sloshed or go to the movies after work, no problem: you might not have to wake up until 12:00 the next day. This leaves you with five or even six hours for drunkenness and other nighttime activities, and you can still get a full night’s sleep.
If the conventional 9-5 workday no longer serves the interests of much of the modern working population, as much as another system might, its high-time to abandon it.
If you will it, it is no dream.