Sleepwork

Illustration by Mike Lee

One lazy afternoon at work, one of the interns (let’s call her Betty Moach — such an unlikely pseudonym — and leave it at that) asked me an important question.

“Would you like to take a nap with me?”

“Yes,” I replied immediately, for I was tired and Betty Moach seemed like a nice person to sleep with. A nap is almost always a good thing to take, I reasoned, even without an invitation from someone as tantalizing as Betty Moach; even alone. Because almost no one sleeps enough anymore, ever since that arrogant Edison geek came around selling his little light bulbs and alternating-current electric chairs. What’s wrong with a nap? Truckers and tourists get their own stigma-free rest areas — federally funded, even — on interstate highways, while we indoor workers are sneered at and called lazy, mutinous turds. Is long-distance driving America’s only legitimizer of exhaustion?

Then again, napping does have its dangerous side: Less than 100 percent of those who fall asleep will wake up again. Is it worth the risk?

Yes. The Art of Napping at Work (ISBN 0943914957) had yet to be published in the days of Betty Moach, but if it had, I would have skimmed it thoroughly and found therein so much incontrovertible evidence that such artwork benefits employees and employers, companies and countries, mammals of all denominations throughout this thin spiral of the Milky Way, that I couldn’t reasonably imagine any civilized organism refusing such a simple and kind invitation as the one I’d just received from the lovely Betty Moach.

So the only question was where.

“Where?”

Betty Moach took my hand. I felt I’d made the right decision.

The Weekly had just relocated to its current location on Sunset, an old (by L.A. standards) four-story structure with lots of as-yet-unexplored crevices and passageways. Betty Moach led my hand and me through a remote storage room to what appeared to be a closet door. Betty Moach opened this door. And loudly clicked the brittle switch on the wall beside it. A bare yellow light bulb on a rotting ceiling beam mustered a couple dozen watts of light, revealing a spacious, red-brick attic with a soft, warped plywood floor. And there, illuminated between the shadows of desiccated boxes and constipated ducts, in a clearing where kerosene lanterns, discarded Farberware and a broken rocking chair would’ve felt at home, folded upright in half like a Ping-Pong table, sat a small cot.

We unlatched the cot and laid it out flat. The mattress was clean and surprisingly unscented. Betty Moach told me to wait there. I did. She returned to the entryway, closed the door, lowered the light switch, and returned to me and the cot.

We spoke little and napped much. For about half an hour.

Then we returned to the bright, bright building, to our work, where, later, we both agreed we became inordinately productive. Thank you, Betty Moach.

Napping at work is rarely as simple as Betty Moach taking you by the hand and leading you into unexplored caverns. More often than not, employers think that napping is something to be done on the employees’ own time — as if such a thing exists — and that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, unconsciousness is somehow counterproductive.

If your employer hasn’t figured out that most industrial accidents are caused by fatigue and occur between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. — prime napping time — and so hasn’t yet invested in a napping area, it’s up to you to create one, either by petitioning (and getting fired) or by improvising (say, on your desk) (and getting fired).

After you’ve been fired, you’ll find yourself feeling lethargic. Just as napping inspired your unemployment, so does unemployment inspire naps. At times like this, a napping partner can be important; as with sex, having a partner generally yields a more pleasurable nap, with far less guilt than going solo. But partners aren’t always . . . tired enough. Fortunately, your local Internet has plenty of nap-porno to inspire you to sleep efficiently and awaken refreshed and ready for a productive afternoon of unemployment. To that end, here are some downloadable nap-aids I’ve found over the course of my research:

The résumés of Lisa K. Reid and her husband, Robert E.. A cost-reduction engineer and a design engineer, respectively, the Pflugerville, Texas, Reids are linked not only by marriage but by Robert’s Exceptionally Boring Home Page (Ver. 2.0), which, having appeared prominently in several autonomous search results for the word boring, now gets the attention it so richly deserves. Read it and sleep.

A yawning crawfish, part of Kris Kapp’s QuickTime animation Cajun Calamity. Properly looped, it should entertain for the first two passes, induce sleep within six.

An oversize, autographed JPEG of Charlton Heston and an undersize, unautographed JPEG of the very same Heston. Stare at both simultaneously until thoughts of outrage, hopelessness and pity fade — usually 30 to 45 seconds — and are replaced by an almost mystical exhaustion. (“Take two Hestons and call me in the morning.”)


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