posted by Joe Anaya on October 1st, 2012

I’m a big believer in naps. Maybe it’s my Mexican heritage but a little siesta after lunch is a great use of time by increasing productivity. Before Seinfelds’ Costanza was hilariously sleeping at his NY Yankee’s job. I was a pioneer in the napping under the desk routine.

It started at a job right after college, a planning and design firm that had a lot of flexibility to its work hours. DISCLAIMER: In case any old or potential employers read this, I got paid hourly, to work on a project basis and I dutifully filled out my timecard honestly. If I took a two-hour lunch, I did NOT try to pad my timecard. It was a great way for me to be able to go work on a commercial or music video set for a few days and come back and just pick up where I left off.

Anyway, I was addressing envelopes to mail some materials to potential clients and was at my desk nodding off. I kept thinking, “I just need to get these envelops in the mail and I’ll take a nap.” After another dozing head-bob, I threw in the towel and leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes. I couldn’t even make it to the floor. Fifteen minutes later, I awoke refreshed and more alert, and restarted my label addressing. In a combination of horror and relief, I looked over the labels I had done so far. Thank God I didn’t drop these into the mailbox: company names mixed with employee names (Mr. Stephen J. Industries Corp.), street addresses sloping downward like lemmings falling off a cliff, 4 digit zip codes. I resolved then and there, that if I ever got that after-lunch-drowsy feeling, I was just going to take a nap. Again, to be clear (in case my son reads this), I never charged them for the time I was sleeping at work. It wasn’t a secret that I took naps, but it seemed much easier to just avoid detection than have to explain it.

Gradually, I cultivated a technique of napping at work. We all had doors on sawhorses as desks and there was plenty of room underneath. It was also a perfectly cool and dimmed space. So, around 2pm, I would blow up my inflatable travel pillow; close my office door; there were big windows into the hallways, but the bottom half of the wall obscured the underside of my desk; and drew my chair in creating the perfect effect. If anyone walked by my office, they would see the door closed, lights out, and my chair “pushed” into the desk, as if I weren’t there.

Once I found a co-worker lying on the floor in his darkened office. “Are you alright?” I asked. “I give up.” “The project is too hard?” I guessed. His reply was enlightening. “No, gravity. It’s a futile effort. Gravity always wins.” After teaching him the proper nuances of napping at work without drawing attention to one’s self, we took to calling them “gravity breaks.”

Years later, when Seinfeld aired the now famous episode of Costanza’s napping under his desk, I got a lot of emails from my old workmates reminding me how outrageous it was that I took naps under my desk. And MANY years later, I went to visit a friend who still worked in the office. Long after almost everyone I knew had moved on, my legend preceded me. “You’re the guy who slept under his desk!” was the response when my friend introduced me to the new people. Probably not the legend I would have chosen for myself, but a pioneering legend is pretty good now matter how you come by it, right?

File Under Working Stiff