Thursday, May 11, 2006

This Will Be the Post That Gets Me Fired

Cartoon from Married to the Sea

Today I resorted to something that, while I never explicitly swore I would not do, I feel is pretty implict as one of those things "reasonable" people do not do. I took a nap under my desk.

I woke up again this morning feeling really sick- this weather gives me migranes which in turn makes me nauseated. But I didn't want to take a day off work since I left early last Friday. Also, I'm really fortunate to be going to a Broadway show tonight, free of charge, thanks to MuppetLover's good catch. So really, all I wanted was to feel well and get on with my day. 8:20am found me dressed and chugging anti-nausea medication on the platform waiting for the 6 Train. Mmm. Emitrol Mustache. I got to the office and in the course of an hour had some yogurt and oatmeal to try to settle my stomach then took some prescription Migrane medicine. I still felt awful.

I knew my options were limited: go home and go to bed, sit around all day with my head between my knees and spittle forming in the corners of my mouth being totally useless or ... or... I knew if I could just lay down in a darkened room for a stretch I'd feel somewhat better. I could go camp out in a stall in the ladie's room or hope to remain undiscovered in the darkened conference room ... if only I could sleep at my desk! Then I'd be close to the phone so I could pop up in an emergency to answer it [possibly under the pretext that I was just searching for a lost earring down there?].

Thus began my "under-desk sleeping feasability study". I'd have to clear some stuff out, like many women I keep an extra two pairs of shoes under my desk. Unlike other women, I also have a set of freshly laundered sheets and a spare pair of pants under my desk for reasons we won't go into right now. Could I fit? Oh hell yes, I could fit. But this is ridiculous, I would never crawl under my desk in the middle of the work day and take a nap.

But now the seed was planted in my brain. I longed to lay down and rest my eyes; I wanted under the desk and badly. I knew I had to wait until after 10:45am, when one of my colleagues would leave for a meeting and no doubt would want to exchange a few words before he left. Soon, I was counting the minutes. When he finally got the hell out of my office I looked around then got down on my hands and knees. It was dirty under my desk, fossilized crumbs abounded from the not-too-distant past when I was always eating cupcakes and muffins at my desk. So as not to mess up my clothes, I gingerly laid out a sheet and I rolled up the pair of pants as a pillow. I moved around some shoes and my purse, rearranged some wires and then slipped under the desk.

The most important thing was that I fit all the way under the desk. If someone came by and saw a leg sticking out they would probably think I had fainted or been stabbed by the FedEx Guy (who today called me "Babe"). In this scenario, the co-worker would probably freak out and make a scene. I didn't want a scene, I just wanted some quality time under my desk. It is not very often that being 4 feet, 10 and one half inches tall comes in handy but today was one of those magical days. I thought I might have to crawl up in the fetal position, but as it was I could stretch out, all the way out, with room to spare. I pulled my chair in. I was as close to invisible as it was possible to be.

Everything was different under my desk. It was cool and dark. Sounds were muffled. I crossed my hands over me, closed my eyes and took deep breaths. I started to feel better. People continued to come by my desk, which is the social focal point in the office. No one said anything but I could hear them linger, casually turning the pages of the newspaper waiting for me to return and say something fun and outrageous. But I didn't return; was under the desk. Someone walked by and drummed his fingers on the desk which was quite loud where I was. I assumed he did this only when I was sitting at my desk as a friendly gesture. I guess now it's some kind of Tourettic tic? The phone didn't ring. It was as if I had actually stumbled into an alternate universe. I was happy.

But everytime I started drifting off to sleep, a noise made me jump. Honestly, I was terrified of being found. At my age, being found sleeping under your desk is not "cute"; it's kind of "disturbing". I didn't want to leave, but I knew I had to return to the surface world. When I heard the person with the office closest to my desk leave to go to the men's room I pushed the chair back and carefully climbed out. Then I folded up the sheet and shoved everything back under the desk. I pulled out my compact and checked my appearance. A little tousseled maybe, but not quite "I just had a quickie in the copy room" tousseled. I couldn't believe I was going to get away with this. All told, I was in my lair for about 25 minutes. One minute later the Mail Carrier walked in and handed me the mail.

I still feel sick but I also feel better, like I have regained the will to carry on. Although it was at times harrowing, I have mostly fond memories of my time under the desk. I hope to go back there someday.


Cupcake said...

Blogger is being anti-paragraph again today. Bear with us.

Beta said...

You're my hero. How many days have I wished that the red velvet couch in our front office were instead located in the isolated, dark conference room.

claire said...

now all you have to do is pull a george and rig your desk with all sorts of gadgets - like an alarm clock, a lamp, and a cup holder. it can be your sanctuary!!

Joshua said...

Wow, that is all kinds of gutsy awesome Cupcake. Well done.

I once feel asleep at my desk, but that was not so planned out.

Super Skater said...

It's a strange moment when you realize the amount of truly bizarre things you can get away with in your office. In my office, extreme tardiness, whining, and backtalk are not only normal, they are practically requirements for getting ahead. Also, it's fairly likely you'll see atleast three people not even pretending to work-- we're talking about reading US Weekly in full view, or filing and painting their nails.

The napping, though, that's just amazing. You're a bit like the guy from Office Space who knocks down the walls of his cubicle and gets away with it. I am in awe.

Cupcake said...

This is not something that I'm sure I want to be proud of but yes, I feel like I have discovered a brave new world.

Dawn Z(ed) said...

At my very first office job, way back in the day, my co-workers and I used to take naps under our desks all the time. We would take turns and we would crawl under somebody else's desk and sleep. When it was time to be woken up, a co-worker would either come and poke you or just kick you, depending on who's desk you were sleeping under, your's or their's.

That is the only thing I miss about that place.

Anonymous said...

You may want to check out little people of america website ( All you have to be is 4'10" and under. Take off your shoes. Under the ADA, this could qualify you for a nap at your desk.

Smarty does not approve of this message (but is laughing).


Cupcake said...

Fribs, you guys have been watching the show about that family of dwarves again, huh? That reminds me of the time in high school when some kids asked my brother if I was a midget. My brother got mad and wanted to fight them, but they said maybe I could get special parking. If being under 5' would qualify me for on the job napping, I would be down with that in an instant.

Now don't get too cheeky. I'm not above asking your Dad to dance at the wedding and then grabbing his ass.

Viscountess of Funk said...

I wish I was 4'10" and could fit under my desk. I'm 5'8" with huge feet so probably only my head could fit under it. Kudos to you, though.

About sleeping at work: When I worked for Boeing years ago my boss sat the twelve of us peons down and had a talk with us about the importance of giving "110%" blah blah. We were sitting around a huge conference table. The guy accross from me and next to the boss was asleep with his head on his chest. Fifteen years later and this still cracks me up.

Hipster Pit said...

I used to take naps in my office when I worked at a big communications firm -- I had such a great little cozy office with frosted glass so you couldn't see in -- just lie down with your feet against the door and it's perfect!

Hipster Pit said...

I used to take naps in my office when I worked at a big communications firm -- I had such a great little cozy office with frosted glass so you couldn't see in -- just lie down with your feet against the door and it's perfect!

idonothingallday said...

the 20-minute power nap... i love those

Anonymous said...

Since my job often requires extremely late hours, I don't feel the least bit guilty having stacked up enough boxes of paper to create a small space between the desk and the window. I populate the space with some bedsheets and every once in a while sneak in there for a quick nap. But yes: it would be totally disturbing to get caught!

Dara said...

I'm 5'2", and I think I could fit under my desk. Thanks for the inspiration.

doodle dog girl said...

A great piece of foam core or a presentation board with charts and color studies propped against your desk works wonders as well. Better yet, take your sheet and tack it to your desk... then leave a post-it® note on your monitor informing your co-workers that you "just stepped out to buy some drugs and will be back in a few." So much smarter than an email because they cannot see what time you actually left.

girlwithaknife said...

Not to freak anybody out, but almost every office I've worked in has had a mouse problem due to the many crumblets that collect under the desks of people who eat at work.

As tempting as it sounds, I would never, EVER want to lay down on the floor of my office. I've seen way too many creatures skittering across the carpet in broad daylight.

But then, I've been working at newspapers, where being disheveled and crusty is the norm.

PS: Hilarious post!

Big Daddy said...

Luckily, where I work used to be a shopping mall. They converted in to an office park.

So if I need, I can go out in the main lobby area and take a nap on the sofas. Lot's of people do it.

I am an Interior Design student, and I have a Corporate Design class coming up. I believe offices should have places for a quick nap. It would improve morale, and productivity.

Some manufacturers have begun making desks that convert in to beds.

For example:


bbrug said...

A friend and former officemate of mine who has two smallish children and all the narcolepsy that that entails sleeps on the floor of his office all the time. Rolls up a coat or sweater for a pillow, maybe reads for a few minutes to get in the mood, and then--clunk!--falls soundly asleep. It's his own office, though--he's self-employed. Still, it disconcerts the interns, sometimes.

Anyway, we would always joke about him getting a dog bed to put under his desk. So whenever I feel especially exhausted at my current job, I plaintively whine, "Where's my dog bed?" And when I get a catalogue that happens to contain dog beds, I always eye them thinking, "Could my friend fit in that? Maybe I should get it for him."

-K- said...

I've been working in an office for years and have never slept at, much less under, my desk. I feel like I've missed out on one of life's little pleasures.

Cupcake said...

Hmm, when I was first moving to New York I tried to convince Timmy I should share his small one bedroom with him. My plan was we'll put up a Chinese screen and I'll sleep behind it on a large dog bed. Amazingly, he did not go for this idea.

Anonymous said...

While I can not say I have slept under my desk, I can say I frequent the nurses office for naps so often they know me by name, and no longer require me to sign in. Its like I have frequent flyer miles there. Sleeping under my desk is the real dream.
Today, I found a new hero. And her name is Cupcake. Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Places I have slept during hte course of my professional career:

1) Bathroom stall
2) Conference rooms
3) The "way-back" of my car (jeep) in the office parking lot after telling people I was going out for lunch
4) Under my desk, with a binder as a pillow