There’s a quiet little war going on out there. It’s between early birds and night owls. For a long time, I think, the early birds have been winning.
For example, if you’re a night owl – and therefore most likely a person who sleeps in (“in” being any time later in the morning than those who rise at the crack of dawn) – has an early bird ever called you and, upon hearing your heavy-eyed voice, said with disbelief, “Are you still asleep?” Right away, the night owl is on the defensive. “Um, yes… I mean no! I’m up! Been up for hours! I just have a, you know, frog in my throat!”
Why, all you night owls out there, are we made to feel guilty by early birds about being asleep at 9 o’clock in the morning?
I, being a night owl, have gotten the “are you still asleep?” phone call more times than I can count, and for years have answered in defense of my perceived slug-a-bed behavior. The fact is that my particular biological clock requires that I sleep nine hours, which means if I get into bed on my usual timetable…twelve or one a.m....I won’t wake up naturally (that is, without an alarm clock) until nine or ten a.m. I find nothing wrong with this schedule because I work from a home office and because…hello!…we have this new-fangled invention called electricity. We humans don’t have to worry about fitting our work into daylight hours anymore, nor do we need to tuck our heads under a wing like chickens and go to bed at sunset. There’s no reason I can see to spring from bed in the year 2011 unless A) getting up at first light matches your biological rhythms; B) there’s a child or job that requires being conscious at sunrise; or C) you have a bellowing herd of cows in need of daybreak milking. If you’re getting up early because doing so makes you feel somehow superior to people who don’t, it may be time to rethink your motives, not to mention your phone etiquette.
Amazingly enough here in the new millennium, in spite of the fact that there’s no earthly reason to wake up at dawn unless you absolutely have to or want to, I’ve been on the receiving end of astoundingly rude remarks when I stumble to the telephone at 9 a.m., such as:
“It’s a good thing you don’t have kids!”
“Some people have to get up in the morning.”
“You’re not out of bed yet!?”
“Did I wake you up?”
And, in my opinion, the most ill-mannered of all: “It must be nice!”
So on behalf of all night owls, I’ve decided to go to ground in this early bird/night owl battle. No longer will I tolerate the nosy and astonished voice at the other end of the phone. I will no longer defend nor lie about the fact that I’m “still” asleep, nor will I be particularly pleasant about a ringing telephone when repeat early bird callers persist. Instead, when Mr. or Ms. Snarky chirps, “It must be nice!” my response will be: “It is. As a matter of fact, it’s very nice. Too bad you haven’t organized your life in such a way that you can sleep in, too.” I might also start making some phone calls of my own, say around midnight. When I hear the groggy voice at the other end of the line, I’ll yelp: “You’re not already asleep are you?”
Join me night owls! Let's shout out that we're mad as hell and won't take this condescending early bird abuse anymore!