Do You Still Suffer from the “Sunday Scaries”?
In our new formless weeks, there are some new terrors
By Ed Goldman
A recent crossword clue struck me as quaint: “Anxiety over the impending workweek.” The answer was “Sunday Scaries.”
While I’d never heard the term, I was quite familiar with the symptoms— though have to admit it was only when I was a kid that I suffered from pre-Monday angst. Mine had less to do with a looming midterm exam for which I hadn’t studied (which would be every single one of them) than with a junior high school bully who had selected my torso to be his fists’ daily destination, an issue that was resolved when I punched him in the clavicle.
Hold Back the Dawn
For younger readers: The clavicle is not the school music room. It’s the collarbone—that thing between your shoulder blade and ribcage—though to be honest, punching him in the school music room might have proved just as effective, though it would have won me a trip to the vice principal’s office, where I spent so much time in junior and senior high that when I graduated from both they retired my student i.d. number.
Working for myself, at home, for the past 38 years has pretty much eliminated any night scaries since my schedule is fairly elastic, expanding and contracting depending on deadlines I usually visit upon myself. This isn’t to say that when I cadge a magazine or newspaper assignment, the editors don’t also assign me a deadline; it’s just that nobody’s there to watch me.
If, for example, I get hired to write a 1,500-word profile of someone, due two weeks thereafter, I figure I don’t need to do anything for the first, say, 11 days, except to make sure that the sources I’ll interview for the story will be findable when I get around to doing so.
While this process may leave me with only three days of fury and flurry as the deadline looms, at least I don’t suffer Nighttime Scaries leading up to then. In fact, I’ve found I’m quite capable of thoroughly forgetting about an impending deadline for days at a time. Some call this a gift for compartmentalization though I think of it more as a talent for procrastination.
I’m wondering if COVID-19 has put the Sunday Scaries on permanent life support.
With so many Americans working at (sorry) from home, I’m guessing the pressures inherent in their traditional workweek may have eased a bit. I know the wardrobe part has because when we attend Zoom meetings, we really have to be business-dressed only from the waist up. This also used to be the case for TV news anchors, incidentally, until media consultants talked station managers into believing that when Wolf Blitzer delivers Breaking News to us, we need to see his legs.
During the past couple of years, Sunday Scaries have evolved into what might be called 24/7 Scaries. Without Mondays towering over us like eager-to-deploy guillotines, we’ve had to invent new do-or-die days.
Here are a few to adjust to your own timetables:
- Morose Monday: When you learn you’ll be engineering the company Zoom call on Tuesday and you barely know how to open your own email;
- Tuesday Terrors: When you discover the aforementioned Zoom call was rescheduled at the last minute for Wednesday—and this time, you’ll also need to create and present a PowerPoint, which of course you’ve never done;
- Wednesday Weirdness: When your Zoom engineering and PowerPoint presentation are postponed until Thursday—but this time, the company’s CEO will be joining the call from his yacht moored in the Aegean Sea;
- Thoracic Thursday: When, an hour before the Zoom/PowerPoint/Big Boss call is finally to begin, you get out of it by faking a peanut-allergy attack and claiming you’ve checked into a nearby clinic—only to find out that your company’s tech guy says he can have you patched into the call from your hospital bed. But in reality, you’re nearly passed-out drunk in your backyard hot tub;
- Friday Frights: When you learn that though you managed to dodge a bullet because the entire global internet went down on Thursday, saving you from having to explain why you weren’t comatose in a hospital but instead, stewed in your spa. Nonetheless, you find out you’re scheduled to have a “heart-to-heart” Zoom call with the Big Boss on Saturday, who’s now in Mikonos, the “party island” about seven hours by ferry boat from Athens;
- Saturday Shivers: When it turns out what the Big Boss wanted to talk to you about is your (fictitious) peanut allergy because the woman he’s traveling with—who’s not his wife and is listed on the company payroll as his Executive Macarena Trainer—may be suffering from a similar, though milder allergy attack than you laid claim to having, and he’d be “personally grateful” to you if you could explain your (fictitious) treatment course to him so he could help her without bothering to check her into a hospital in Greece where questions about her job title could come up. You decide you’ll look up everything you can find on the internet about peanut allergies and send them to the Big Boss.
Then, to teach yourself a lesson for being such as jerk all week, you plan to punch yourself in the clavicle.