The myth of the awful all-nighter

It was 1998, or maybe 1999.  I was a green, eager college graduate working my first full time job that didn’t involve food service.  My boss, Jason Bourne (yes, that’s his real name) and I were burning software CDs for a client (for the record, and at the risk of making myself feel old, these were the days before FTP and downloads).  We started about 4pm and worked at it all night. We tossed a Nerf basketball, ate some takeout, and around dawn Jason left to take his kids to school.  I stayed to finish up the burning of CDs before I would load them into the car and drive 2 hours south to hand deliver them to our clients at Harvard in time for a 10am meeting.  Yes, that Harvard; the one pronounced Hah-vahd.

This is not me.
photo credit: Mickipedia via photopin cc

Unfortunately, I fell asleep on the floor of the office and it’s only because Jason thought to call me that we didn’t completely piss off the dudes from the richest business school in the world.  Phew.

That was not my first all-nighter, but it was a memorable one.  Far more so than the time I studied all night for finance just to scrape a B- on the stupid exam.  Harrumph. Those who were classmates of mine know how I feel about grades like THAT.

Or the one a few years ago when we had to get the new season website launched. Josh and I stayed up all night working on stuff, and then I slept through my alarm.  No one noticed I wasn’t at work.  It’s always good to be valued.

Most of us have done it at one time or another – worked an all night shift.  And most of us have milked the heck out of it the next day.  Because let’s face it – unless you work with people you hate, all-nighters are not as mythically awful as we proclaim them to be.  Secretly, we love them.  They give us the right to stumble tiredly through the office in frumpy clothes, evoking sympathy and pats on the back; they are an excellent excuse for bad ideas or loopy behavior.  Plus, they are a great essay question or job interview story.  Trust me on that one.

Last night didn’t really qualify as an all-nighter for me (though it was for a couple of my colleagues).  I got 4.5 hours of sleep, which I realize is a lot for you exhausted moms out there.  But it had all the qualities of one, including the bakery fresh donuts I found and the copious amounts of tea and coffee we all consumed.  And the bleary eyes and the occasional moment when I caught myself staring slack-jawed out the window at passing puppies.

But you know what I love about most all-nighters?  Good stuff usually comes from them.  Back in 1998/99, we hustled those CDs down to Cambridge and made our clients happy, and my boss was my advocate for life, and I his.  Last night, we fixed a big problem with our database and website, and we’ll reap the spoils of the battle for a long time to come.  Unless you’re studying alone for a stupid finance exam, all-nighters in a work environment most often result in tired but proud and happy colleagues.

And sleep after an all-nighter?  It is oh-so-fantastic, and it’s where I’m headed now.  Sweet dreams, y’all.

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