Can there be anything more exhausting than getting up and going to work? Is it any wonder that you arrive ready to collapse, what with our blighted transport infrastructure, pissing rain, that seventh pint the night before and staying up late to watch the poker?
The answer, of course, is to top-up on sleep at work. Surprisingly perhaps, no enlightened employer will baulk at the idea of the work nap. They realise that the returns in subsequent productivity are huge. What use, they say in interminable HR meetings, is an exhausted desk-jockey sitting under a booze-cloud, moaning gently and bringing everyone down? Answer: None use. Even so, it’s best not to mention it.
So, you’re at work. You can feel the sleep all filling you up and ready to spill out. You can barely hold your head up straight. Christ, you’d suck off Somnus himself for just ten minutes of sweet slumber, perchance to dream. But where? How?
If you’re lucky enough to have a store room or similar at your place of employment it might be possible to create an area hidden from common view. This is known as the ‘nest’ approach. In a carpet store I worked at, for example, I was able to arrange the upright rolls in such a way as to create a reasonably complex labyrinth, in the middle of which I had concealed an old armchair and a footstool. I would eat my lunch there and follow it up with forty winks, covered in crumbs.
And in the warehouse store of a large hospital, I once removed – at enormous physical expense to myself – all the cereal boxes from a large container of corn flakes, into which I was then able to climb for some quality downtime whenever the need arose. This worked perfectly until the day I was awoken by an unfamiliar sense of weightlessness as I was fork-lifted across the warehouse floor. I emerged and, I’m sorry to report, was summarily fired, without even being given the chance to properly wake up.
For The Nest to really work you need a lock and key. In times of extreme sleep deprivation, a locked door is your friend. Indeed, there was a time when the mere sound of any key turning in a lock would render me heavy-lidded. And so, the simplest answer to work-sleep prayers is – as if you didn’t already know – the toilet.
The toilet, where you are alone with your thoughts and your habits. In which life and death is routinely showcased in a simple porcelain bowl. Our old acquaintance, Half-Life, tells of a profound existential moment he experienced when, after a particularly grim morning-after exudation, he made the mistake of glancing into the bowl and witnessed his faeces, urine, blood, sputum, vomit and semen blending into a monstrous goulash of human existence. I’m not sure why I got on to that… Apologies if you are about to eat.
Back to the napping.
One source of disappointment for the weary worker is the toilet cubicle in which, due to a ghastly design oversight, the door doesn’t quite reach the ground. While the seated snooze is still possible here, it is safer to avoid the floor. During an attempt at some floor action in one such toilet, my feet were spotted peeping out from beneath the door by security at the firm I was working for at the time. Fortunately, I was able to convince them that I had fainted during a gruelling evacuation attempt. There was no come-back from the incident and I went on to represent the company at the highest level.
Much better is the wholly discrete cubicle, with full length door and, ideally, a low-slung cistern. The presence of the latter allows one to practice the “reverse cistern gambit”. In this manoeuvre you straddle the bowl, lid down, facing the cistern. Remove the toilet roll from the holder and place it on top of the cistern in front of you. Then simply lean (or slump, if preferred) forward, using said toilet roll as a pillow. You can even give the cistern a little cuddle, if you like. It’s nice to give something back.
But the ultimate nap zone, the very Jerusalem of office shut-eye, is the disabled toilet; preferably the one in the basement where no disabled people can actually get to. It’s size and spaciousness offer a full-length horizontal experience that can be rivalled only by somehow obtaining the keys to that office penthouse apartment that you keep hearing about, but that in all probability doesn’t exist.
Furthermore, disabled toilets rarely come with foreshortened doors, which I suspect is due to the unwritten rule that while it’s just about acceptable for your boss to peek under a toilet door to see if you’re in there, to do so to a disabled person would be considered the M.O. of a tyrant.
Of course, to avoid all the above, you could just go to bed early. Some people do. They’re the ones you avoid at parties. If they’re ever invited.
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