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Stress and Jobs: A Solution to Both

Monday, 18 Jun 2012 | 2:27 PM ET

I want a new drug, sings Huey Lewis and the News.

I need a job, sings country duo Burns & Poe.

I've found both.

First, the drug. We live in interesting times—a decade's worth of equity wiped out, underwater mortgages, high unemployment, Europe threatening to drag us down, Kim Kardashian.

Imagine all the stress and misery you’d have missed out on if you’d gone to sleep around Labor Day 2008 and awakened in, oh, maybe 2014.

The problem is, Americans can't even sleep through the night, let alone slumber like some new age Rip Van Winkle. So Proctor & Gamble, the maker of NyQuil and DayQuil, is releasing ZzzQuil.

This new medicine is an over-the-counter sleeping medicine that is non-habit forming. It’s a new category for P&G, because unlike its other products, ZzzQuil is not for colds or pain--"it's just for sleep." Think of it as the non-prescription form of Ambien, without the risk of "sleep driving."

P&G says a study by the National Sleep Foundation found that one in four adults in the U.S. complains of sleeplessness a few times a week. Even short term, ZzzQuil could be a help. If you'd taken the new medicine Saturday and awakened now, you'd discover that Greece is fine. Right? GREECE IS JUST FINE, RIGHT? Oh, roll over and I'll wake you up when Greece is actually fine.

Do we really find it so difficult to sleep anymore? Are we so stressed out? I recognize it's tough out there, but my grandparents scratched out a dirt poor existence on a farm in Arkansas with eight surviving children. Starvation was always a possibility. That's stress. On the other hand, they worked so hard all day long they probably collapsed into bed at night from exhaustion. They didn't need ZzzQuil.

In 2012, we don’t suffer like they did from too much work, but too little. Many Americans have trouble sleeping because their jobs don’t match their talents and education. Many other Americans can’t sleep because they have no jobs at all.

The job market is so competitive that over a thousand college seniors reportedly applied for 12 job openings at one company recently, facing odds of 83 to one they'd get hired. That must be some job. It is. The graduating seniors, college degrees in hand, were competing to drive Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles around the country,a job so wonderful that “everyone will be in love with me.”

The dozen winners who cut the mustard attended a three-week Hot Dog High where they learned to drive the 27-foot long fiberglass vehicle shaped like a big hot dog. They also learned to say things like, "Have a bun-derful day," and "Frank you very much." This takes three weeks? Well, "Hotdoggers go through rigorous driving training where they learn to 'parallel park on steroids.'" Their pay hasn’t been revealed.

One of the new hotdoggers relishing her success is 22-year-old Theresa Brenner. She tells the Wisconsin State Journal that she applied to law school but decided instead to spend a year driving an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Law school would probably be all stress-filled and force her to take ZzzQuil and stuff.

And let’s be frank, what does America need more, another lawyer, or someone promoting a sausage made of beef byproducts and preservatives which tastes really good with mustard? Brenner clearly made the right call choosing Oscar Mayer Wiener. After all, that is what I'd truly like to be.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com
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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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