Deadlines—Real and Otherwise

Back in the days when I worked for a living–that was just a few months back–I coined a few phrases. None made into tablet form, stone or iPad. None were scribed upon the walls, hall or lavatory. But I remember them all, sure.

I’ve always been in printing and publishing, so one came up a lot. In fact, it came up a whole lot–not too much, just more than enough. See, deadlines came, deadlines went. Deadlines loomed forever. Just over the horizon, around the corner, the next morning, that night, later that afternoon, in the next half hour. Deadlines on top of deadlines. If there’s one thing we never ran short of, that was deadlines.

We had short deadlines and long deadlines and extended deadlines. On occasion we received extra deadlines. There were realistic deadlines, there were unrealistic deadlines. We even had constant deadlines. There were daily deadlines and deadlines generated by the week, month and year. The holidays always brought their own, seasonal deadlines. And if you were real lucky, at year’s end you received your bonus deadline.

But those aren’t the topper. They don’t even come close. No, my personal favorite, my all-time deadline to beat all deadlines had nothing to do with production cycles, press schedules or anything of a professional, practical nature. Not in the slightest. My number one deadline occurred by special, exceptional circumstance and never ever, not once, had anything to do with work.

I’m talking about the “fake deadline.” That’s what I called it whenever something came due for all the wrong reasons. A project wasn’t due for the next six weeks, but the client was leaving for Yosemite with the whole family in two days and needed to see the proof tomorrow. The owner of the company will deliver a job that’s due the next day, except he won’t be coming in, so he needs it now. A salesman hasn’t won over a client for weeks and is sleep deprived or over-medicating, or both–he promises delivery in a couple of hours just because he thought it sounded good.

Fake deadlines. Like telling myself I better knock out this column today so I can go to the vaping lounge tomorrow…

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