virtual dreamer

nextI have written extensively over the years about the process of falling asleep and have sorted my journal into four areas of interest.


Stress and the Bean Man

Stress is the number one cause of insomnia. This goes without saying. There are other causes. Ears ringing, environmental noises, Restless Leg Syndrome, and dietary habits can all lend them selves to a bad night's sleep. But stress is numero uno.

Many years ago, in a place far far away, I used to be a tie wearing, briefcase carrying field engineer specializing in customer support of Hewlett Packard computer systems. I worked in many parts of this hemisphere and dealt with countless issues. Once, while working at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, I was given the duty of taking care of the special customer known as the Bean Man. Why was I given this duty? Simply because I was the new guy.

Now the Bean Man was a socially dysfunctional government programmer with a nasty habit of eating uncooked beans directly from the can while writing code. He would never go out  to eat. The beans were his breakfast, brunch and lunch... everyday. The bean juice would dribble from his stubbly chin onto his relatively expensive HP graphics terminal and eventually find its way to the substrata of his keyboard. This resulted in sticky keys and sometimes complete failure of his system. An almost weekly occurrence. Usually on Monday mornings the first trouble call I would receive would be Mr. Bean. When I worked on his system, cleaning the bean juice or replacing keys (or sometimes the entire keyboard), the Bean Man would stand off to the side and make animal-like grunts like a mother bear protecting it's cub. The Bean Man would never look me in the eye and would occasionally blurt out 'How long is this going to take?!', in a kind of maniacal rhetorical way. Occasionally he would whip out a can opener from his coat pocket like a six-shooter and crack open a new bean can behind me. Soon the 'slurping' would begin. I think he was doing it on purpose. It was very motivational and I found myself working double-time to get the heck out of there.

No one would fire the Bean Man. Apparently firing a Government Servant is like climbing Mount Everest in your skivvies. You could try, but you are not going to get very far. No, the Bean Man was here to stay.  His relatively sane government co-workers had managed to find an out of the way place to put him. It was kind of a big utility closet with a desk.

On Sunday nights my stress induced Insomnia would begin. I knew there was an excellent chance on Monday morning I would find myself cleaning up bean juice, in the Bean Man's closet, with Bean Man incoherently muttering next to me.

'What did I do to deserve this?', I would think. Heck, I was a trained Field Engineer ...not a bean juice cleaning maid. Every Sunday night for months I would dread Mondays. When I would drift off I would occasionally see cans of Van Camp's, Campbell's or Bush's beans floating about in my dreams. The Bean Man was there too. He would chase the cans around like they were butterflies. I was stressed.

Eventually a new guy started at the office. I gladly handed the Bean Man off to him. He did not seem to mind and indeed laughed about it the first week. By week three I could see those Monday morning bean-bags under his eyes starting to form. The stress had begun.

Bean Man Induced Insomnia had found it's next victim.