Written By Riva Agarwal (Grade 10)
The average working hours in India are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Workers like night shift security guards, policemen, bartenders, uber drivers, and firefighters all work during unsociable hours, for which they are ideally paid extra, to attract job applicants. After all, they are sacrificing their sleep to do the job. One of the biggest issues companies face is human needs. Sleep. Workers can’t work through the night, and into the day, simply because the human body needs rest and a good amount of sleep to function productively, which is why automation is so widely accepted- machines can work through the night, without losing efficiency.
I work a night shift as a packaging manager at Teva, but just the night shift isn’t enough, I work a job during the day too. I barely get any sleep, and my mind is a hot mess. Millions across the globe share the same issue as me. But Teva’s CEO plans to hold a meeting with the entire staff, from top to bottom, to address these issues. How she could address and solve the needs of the human body, only she knew.
“For years, we have battled the issue of sleep. We applaud our night shift workers who give up vital hours of their sleep to help us continue the production of our medicines, and we feel sorry for those workers replaced by machines due to their inability to work during the night. Sleep is something we all need, regardless of status. Now, being a pharma company, we’ve been trying to work on a solution for decades. We’ve found it.” Gasps rose across the room, as everyone’s face transitioned into an expression of awe and curiosity. “Insomnia pills. It doesn’t need to be triggered by stress, anxiety, or depression. This pill triggers that part of the brain, which makes sleeping tough, by increasing the level of hormones in the body, and releases a chemical that temporarily numbs the pineal gland, which releases melatonin to make you sleep. Side effects? None. We have been doing trials for years now, privately, with only a few scientists’ help. One pill can keep you awake for 16 hours, and after the effects wear off, all you need to do is consume another pill, and the cycle keeps repeating itself. We are working on increasing the time the pill can keep you awake for. It is only, and only for our workers, and we expect full confidentiality according to each one of your employment contracts, a breach of which will lead to immediate redundancy. With this pill, we will reach maximum efficiency. Now, those who want to take the pills, make your way to the cafeteria.” Shock waves reverberated across the room, and uncertainty was written on everyone’s faces.
After a few minutes of processing, I went to the cafeteria, and others followed along. This was all we’d ever hoped for – no sleep. Scared, but hopeful for the extra money I would make by working more hours, I popped the pill and immediately, I felt nothing. As the night shift came along, I worked for longer than I did yesterday. Everyone worked. The pill was working.
Months passed, as we took a pill every day, and made extra money by taking more part-time jobs in our free time. 24 hours of productivity. We didn’t feel sleepy, or tired. But my family was falling apart, I was richer, but never home. My wife would take care of the kids, and I would only work. I stopped going out to the monthly family dinner and felt like my kids would forget about me. It was then, that I realized, these pills made me inhumane. It made me a robot.
No sleep, no feelings, a little numb. Even though this pill solved the problem the way I wished it would, it created another one – I had no life apart from work. I could see my capability of enjoying my own sweet time wear away, as all I could think of, was work. I’m not too sure I prefer this, because a throbbing feeling makes me wonder, sleep is what differentiates humans from machines, and sleep is what keeps us sane.
Featured Image Courtesy – Time