October 30, 2001

14. Canadians sense a manly obligation never to sleep during work hours.

Although many of them get very sleepy, especially in those two hours just after lunch, when.... oooooohhhh yeahhhh, you could just lean back in that big ol' comfy chair, stretch the ol' legs out under the desk, let the ol' lids droop shut, and snore away for a warm hour or so. Sleeping is absolutely forbidden! No matter how drowsy they get, Canadians force their eyes open, staring straight ahead, and putting all their remaining energy into the single task of staying awake. All work stops, co-workers don't talk to each other any more, and the office goes quiet except for the drone of the a/c exhaust. Yet everyone believes that if they are caught napping that's it, they're smoked. Worse even than the fear of being fired would be the absolute shame of the public revelation that the sleeper had for one moment let his guard down and been caught not pretending to work. As if it's unreasonable to lay the heavy and fog-ridden brain down for a quick repose after a hearty meal. As if the company will as a result immediately go bankrupt, customers turn away in disgust, or the quality of work suffer. A nap, refreshing as it is, actually subtracts less from a worker's productivity than the typical two-hour combat against lunch-induced, mind-numbing dreams. Canadian offices practically give off a light, collective rattling just after lunch, when breaths start to come heavy in a suspicious approximation of snoring. A nap could be as short as ten minutes and would augment the productivity of the saved 1:50 tenfold. But no one will hear of it. It's a sign of weakness, this sleeping, and a good cause for scorn. Canadians caught proposing that it should be considered are shunned, scoffed at, and sent off to "the minor leagues:" those barbarian countries where everybody's got a cot at work or something.

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