“One more.  One more, and then I’ll stop.”

James had been promising himself that for the past two hours, and he kept picking up more work.  He didn’t have a choice really – there was just so much that needed to be done.  But this time – this time – he really would take a break.  He would.

He was so sick of this project.  He’d gotten into this industry to be an innovator, to shake things up and make a different.  In the end though, he felt like he was turning into one more robot on the assembly line working his nine-to-five.  Not that those were his hours, by any stretch.  Even the least of his coworkers probably added ten hours a week to that kind of schedule.  He added more.

And they’d done great things, he couldn’t deny that.  He knew what they did made a difference, but at the same time…it didn’t feel like he was making a difference.  James felt like a zombie – he gave his 110%, and the caught what sleep he could before shambling back to work the next day.  He did what he could to keep himself going, but coffee and caffeine could only do so much.

He was tired.  More than that, he was probably burned out.  How embarrassing…

No!  He shook his head vigorously, trying to shake off his doldrums.  No, he was not going to turn into one of those people who whined about working too much, or too hard.  No!  He could do this.  He was going to do this!

The door opened, and James’ boss Sean walked in with a two-inch stack of papers under his arm.

“James!  How are you doing?  I can’t believe you’re still at it.”

“I’m doing well Sean.  I’m almost finished.  What do you have there with you?”

“Some more revisions.  The bosses want us to fit them into Friday’s release.”  Sean handed the stack to James.

“Sean, it’s…” James stopped and checked his watch.  “It’s 1:32am Wednesday morning.  I don’t think we can fit these into the release at the end of the week.  Wasn’t there a blackout period on revisions that went into effect two weeks ago?”

“Yes, but these are just some last-minute, emergency changes.”

“Sean, we’re barely going to make the release date as is.  How in the world are we supposed to fit in more ’emergency changes’ into it?”

“We’ll have to figure that out.  Consider it a testament to their faith in us and our ability to follow-through.”  Sean smiled.

“Sean…we can’t.  I’m sorry, but we just can’t.”

“Nonsense.  We’ve delivered on tighter schedules in the past.  And you’re our best and brightest – I have absolute faith you’ll be able to produce another miracle with this project.”

James leafed through the stack that Sean had delivered.  These weren’t last-minute, emergency changes – several of them would require that they rework sections of the project that had already been completed.  A couple of them even invalidated the work he’d done tonight.

“Sean…” James began.

“Now, now,” Sean tsked.  “You’d best get to work.  I’ll see you in the morning James,” Sean said, moving towards the door.

That was it.  That was IT.  He’d had enough.  James stood up.

“Sean, I’m need to take a break.”

Sean turned around, “What do you mean?  You need to get to work man!  They’ll be time and time a-plenty for breaks after the Friday release.”

“Sean, I’m taking a break,” James said moving out from behind his desk.

“James, you can’t.  We just got a new stack of updates.  We need everyone to give it their all if we’re going to make the release date.”

James looked at Sean.  He’d been with the company for five years, and worked under Sean for two of them.  They were friends – they’d even gone out for drinks on occasion.  He liked Sean.

He walked past Sean and stopped in the doorway.  Slow and deliberately, he unclipped his security badge from his collar and put in on the shelf next to the door.  Turning around one last time, James said, “Sean, I’m taking a break.”

And then he left.  It was the best damn decision he ever made.

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