The day was beautiful. A perfect summer’s day. Cloudless blue sky.
I needed a prescription from a doctor near Boston. It’s 50 miles away. Typically, about 45 or 50 minutes driving. But not on Friday afternoon in mid-July. If you live around here, you know summer weekends begin on Thursday and climax Friday when everyone is coming home from work, jumping in the family buggy, and taking off for somewhere else.
New York, New Hampshire, Cape Cod. The population of New York is on its way to New England. The mid-Atlantic and New England regions do a population swap every weekend during July and August.
We forgot. It was the day of the asshole driver. The ones who cut you off, the ones who hog the fast lane while driving slow, but will never let you pass.
Endless stretches of “construction,” Miles of orange cones with nary a worker in sight. Closed lanes, crawling traffic. Accidents on the side of the road and each driver feels a compelling need to slow down for a long look. A few major mishaps with sirens, police cars, and ambulances. Accidents that close lanes in two directions … and of course require all drivers to stop and take an even longer look.
Police, supposedly in place to keep traffic flowing hang out in the middle of the road having a friendly chat with fellow officers. They get paid extra for that.
It wasn’t one road. It was everywhere. Bumper-to-bumper in every direction.
When we got to the doctor’s office, they’d forgotten to get the prescription ready. I simply said (very firmly) that we’d just spent hours getting there through the worst traffic metro-west Boston can offer … and I wasn’t leaving without my prescription.
I got my prescription.
We took a side road home, so we got home.
For all the years I commuted though hell and high water. For all those years I dragged my tired carcass out every morning to plow through traffic to meet a deadline that was not a real deadline, but a lost hope. Because the product or project had long since gone off the rails but no one told me — this was a ghastly reminder.
Did I work better under pressure? Actually, I worked regardless of pressure. I worked best with encouragement, resources, and sufficient time to do my job properly. When those conditions could not be met, I worked less and less well until finally, I could not work. At all.
I doubt anyone works “better” under pressure. Some people deal with it. Others break down.
Modern management has a lot to learn about how to get the best from workers. They don’t seem to be learning.