Only When I Laugh
by Elouise Bell

TWENTY-NINE
Power Napping

 [p.100]We have, over the years, paid attention (about as much and as seriously as the subject deserves) to the concept of power in women’s lifestyles today. We’ve looked at the matter of “power dressing” (my suit can beat your suit), an upscale version of Dressing for Success. We’ve talked about “power telephoning” (whoever picks up her phone last wins), “power lunches” (my salad is classier than your salad), and even “power make-up” (try this blusher if you dare). And though we haven’t examined it in this column, we certainly have all seen on the streets and roads and in the malls of our fair land the manifestations of “power walking”—a fitness alternative to jogging that lightens the stress of feet, ankles, and knees, and transfers it all to the shoulders.

Not wanting to be remiss in my coverage of power in its many forms, I think it’s time to talk about power napping.

Bear in mind, then, that in the competitive business world, the word “power” suggests one-up-manship of some sort. Where napping is concerned, there are two ways to one-up the next person. The first is by seeming never to sleep, by staying at the office late at night to work and by being the first at the office in [p.101]the morning, so that people will say “How does she DO it? Nobody can keep UP with her!” Since power, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder, at this point you have power. Such a reputation gives you a definite psychological advantage. Three items are necessary to work this ploy: a DO NOT DISTURB sign, which you hang on your door when you come in at 7 a.m.; an inflatable air mattress, which you keep in your file cabinet and inflate as soon as you get in the office; and finally, a tape of two hours’ worth of rapid-fire typing or computer noises or whatever sounds accompany whatever it is you do. Switch this tape on just before you lie down behind closed doors to get the sleep no one suspects you of getting. Just one caution: Be sure to turn the volume up on the tape recorder—to cover your snores.

Now for the second way to one-up the competition in the nap department. That is to make a big deal about how much sleep you get. Such an attitude brings to mind the old anecdote about the confident farm hand whose cryptic claim was “I can sleep when the wind blows.” When a fierce windstorm finally came, the farm hand was found peacefully sleeping because all his chores were done, and all the necessary preparations for a storm had been made—all the hatches battened down, so to speak. This “sound sleeper” ploy is an especially good one if you live in places where the work ethic has reached obsessive proportions and people vie with each other to see who can be up first. If you boast about your nine hours of sleep plus naps and STILL get your work done beautifully, you’ll drive your competitors crazy (which in itself gives you a psychological advantage).

You work this ploy just the reverse of the first: by coming in late and playing a tape of yourself snoring in the office, while actually spending many night hours keeping up on your work. You fall asleep in meetings—making sure you are caught at it—but not before arranging for a henchwoman to carefully take notes, so that after the meeting, which you apparently slept through, you can send detailed memos to people about specific items covered.

If you really want to mystify everyone, alternate these ploys from week to week!