It is right after lunch, my stomach is full, and as I lean back in my seat to stretch I scan the staff room and notice most of my coworkers seem to be scanning the backs of their eyelids. In that moment I realize my own desire to snooze on the warmth of my computer. Yet as with most days I can never actually go through with a nap and instead release a heavy sigh on my walk for yet another cup of coffee.
Throughout my time here in Japan I have complied with most, if not all, of the cultural behaviors expected of me, whether that is hollering, “おはようございます” louder than a rooster caws to everyone in the office, or owning three pairs of shoes so I can walk everywhere on my school’s campus. However, I have not been able to fully embrace the afternoon (or, as I have sometimes witnessed, midmorning and late afternoon) nap. From my own cultural background I worry that it will be considered unprofessional. Even worse, as the only foreigner and someone who tends to have a lot less work and who leaves far earlier than most of my colleagues, that I will be scoffed at because really, how much work have I done to deserve a nap? Although arguable, the fear of being perceived in that way prevents me from attaining a nice 20 minutes of rest. What are your thoughts, do I continue the way things are or go ahead and pursue just another cultural norm here in Japan? Thanks for the help!
Sleepless in Shingu
I believe there are two issues to address here; the first being your self-consciousness regarding school-time sleep, and the second your naivety about coffee in this country. I shall begin with the second as it is certainly the most grave.
Let me tell you in no uncertain terms that coffee here is abominable; the stuff in the staff room only a marginal improvement on the pigswill from vending machines. You simply cannot expect this dishwater to give you the buzz and caffeine injection a true coffee should. Nor, if premade in a plastic cup, can you ever recreate the perfect elegance and sophistication a true Italian espresso brings naturally to the consumer. Please do not even consider replying that your caffeinated libations are of Seattle origin and thereby real, a ‘cawfee shop’ doth not a caffè make. And whilst we are on the subject, cappuccinos after 11am are sacrilege. But I digress. Your problem here is that the substance you are relying on is completely unsuitable and this is why you must imbibe “yet another” cup. The solution here is simple; bring Italia to you by shipping in vast quantities of Lavazza, or similar. Not only will such powerful beans keep you awake and chirpy, but their very scent will induce admiration for your coffee commitment in your Suntory* swilling colleagues.
Finally, your catnap paranoia: the office snoozing phenomenon is intriguing and the potential for drooling, snoring and sleepwalking can cause concern for potential sleepers. British army psychiatrists actively encourage napping because in the field one never knows when an opportunity to sleep will come, and it is arguably a similar situation with teaching schedules here. However I personally refuse to nap, I take siestas – and then only on silk sheets. If you are less discerning about your place of repose I would refer you to this succinct list of napping pros to place clearly on your desk whilst you catch your forty winks. Of course it might be an idea to translate them first so that the entire staff room will understand your conscious decision to reap the benefits of a doze – the task of translation will also put off the inevitable day you do admit defeat and succumb to slumber.
With espresso in hand,
*Suntory produces Boss, which they like to describe as coffee. Ignorant fools.
HT: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and intended for entertainment. Any advice is taken at your own risk. There is a fine line between being independent and a social pariah.