Or, Is Jerrod Beams Just Another John C. Beale?
This Monday, Slate published a short article that attracted my attention because of the superficial affinity between its subject and the main character in my as-yet-unnamed-but-almost-finished novel. Yes, I know I’ve got to get on that. But about Beale….and Beams.
Apparently, Mr. John C. Beale was a highly-paid EPA scientist who managed to pull the wool over his bosses’ eyes, and enjoy months out of the office goofing off, while never doing a bit of work. His secret? Claiming that he was doing secret work for the CIA. Talk about bold. The full story is here.
In contrast to Mr. Beale, our more understated (not to say prosaic) Mr. Beams simply manages to escape the confines of 9-to-5 and of his cubicle while STILL getting his work done. Granted, he spends far less time doing it, and doesn’t actually do it all himself – having farmed out most of his responsibilities to a virtual assistant. But he proves far MORE effective than he was when he ascribed to the butts-in-seats school of management, as he does when we first meet him. Not exactly your model Federal employee, but that probably says more about the model than about the employee.
And speaking of meeting Jerrod Beams, the first draft of the novel is days away from being done; my goal of finishing up before New Year’s Day is well within reach, and I should actually be at the editing stage before Christmas.
Shortly thereafter, I plan to begin releasing chapters of the work on line, both here and on Facebook, and perhaps for the readers of a few selected message boards. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the character sketch I drew of Jerrod when first planning the book.
One-Paragraph POV Summary: Jerrod Beams
The dullness, the monotony of my life first became apparent to me as I droned to work in DC, where I contributed to the hive-collective. The hum of tires on the Beltway concrete had for years filled the hollow space that was my life; now I heard an echo. I had sounded the Void. Seeking “escape,” I found inspiration in Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, and stepped through the looking glass. I didn’t know what I wanted to escape to, just that I wanted to escape from, which was good enough for me. Or so I thought. I cleared all the fillers from my life, from the hum of my tires (telework reduced it, then remote work eliminated it), to the 10-year-old moving boxes in my garage (I can park my car in it!), to every unnecessary email twitch. Following Ferriss’ advice, I started my own business, which grew rapidly, as did that Echo inside me and the unease of my family, until Panic! I retreated to the safety of my office, only to discover in the midst of bureaucratic conformity the strength and peace necessary for a self-directed life.
Until next time, take care and Merry Christmas