The Geezer: Bucking The Trend

The Geezer: Bucking The Trend

I suspect if there’s ever a comprehensive list of dos-and-don’ts for reporters, one of the don’ts will be, “Never fall asleep in the middle of an interview that you’re conducting.” To my shame, I must admit this has happened to me twice!

by Rob Harley

I AM IN THE PROCESS OF congratulating myself. For years, as a younger geezer, I found I needed regular afternoon naps – especially in the weekend.

But, just over a year ago, I had a liver transplant and the results have been astonishing. I’ve started to grow darker-coloured hair than I had before, and I’ve found my need for sleep during the day has all but vanished. I simply have way more staying power.

One key benefit comes in the form of improved concentration and a resulting freedom from one of the more embarrassing aspects of my career in interviewing for TV programs.

I suspect if there’s ever a comprehensive list of dos-and-don’ts for reporters, one of the don’ts will be, “Never fall asleep in the middle of an interview that you’re conducting.” To my shame, I must admit this has happened to me twice!

Once, back in the ‘80s when our first child Ben had been born and was keeping both his mum and I up with his restlessness, I was working for a TV current affairs program and I had to go interview a ‘bug man.’ (Not a man who was a bug, but a man who specialized in bugs.)

I was to interview him on how he’d helped the police solve a case of cannabis importation by identifying bugs that had been found in the cannabis plants. This had then led to the arrest of the perpetrators, who were known to have recently visited the country from which the bugs originated.

Can you feel your eyes glazing over already? That’s exactly how I was, midway through the interview on a warm afternoon.

As he spoke there was something almost hypnotic about his voice, and despite my very best efforts to remain in a conscious state, my mind did a little mental transaction which went like this:
“His answers are all very long, and he’s only just started on this one. I think he’s got about five minutes to go before I need to ask him a follow-up question. If I time it right I can close my eyes for a moment, have a little micro-sleep, and in all likelihood wake up before he throws me my next cue.”

Bad mistake. The next thing I felt was a gentle nudge on my shoulder, the cameraman discreetly waking me from what, by then, was a very deep sleep.

It happens with public speaking too. Pity the unfortunate, bleary-eyed audience member fighting jetlag, disenchantment or just plain post-lunch blues, whose eyelids feel like they have lead weights attached to them. It’s equally as bad for the speaker who watches in dismay as heads start to nod and eyes start to glaze in his or her audience.

But it can get even worse for a tired speaker. Several years ago a gentleman called Martin Keeler, the vice president of a mid-sized American corporation, gained a certain degree of fame by having been the first man to reportedly fall asleep during the middle of one of his own PowerPoint presentations.

He’d paused to encourage people to take in the detail of a very complex slide … and took a micro-nap!

The gleeful reporting of the case concluded with the observation that it didn’t really matter much, because every other person in the room, all 65 of them, were already either asleep or in an advanced stage of dropping off.

But I am happy to report that now, blessed with a new liver and a new chance at life, my need for naps has faded just as I enter that time in life where people seem to expect it of you.
For once in my life. I’m bucking the trend! 

ROB HARLEY IS A TOP DOCUMENTARY MAKER, AN AUTHOR, AND A HIGHLY INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER. HE’S A WORLD RENOWNED STORY-TELLER, A SOMETIMES HARLEY-DAVIDSON RIDER AND A GREAT KIWI BLOKE.