Ask McArdle: What’s your position on naps during office hours?

Also, stinky gym towels by the desk

(Peter Arkle)
(Peter Arkle)

What’s your position on naps during office hours?

Good question. I do not require much sleep. But an evening of merry-making can fatigue me. On these rare occasions, I kick my feet onto my desk, push my bowler over my eyes and pretend to be in deep thought until my ardour returns. Those in higher-pressure lines of work may choose to be more surreptitious; the Wall Street Journal recently revealed that some Barclays interns prefer to sneak to a lavatory stall to attempt a “toilet nap.” In the interests of reportage, I attempted one such nap with unpleasant results. Leaning backward resulted in the flushing mechanism jamming into my lower back. Hunching forward on my knees sent a message to my digestive tract that we had visited the washroom for a different purpose. Only leaning to one side provided any comfort, although it placed undo pressure on a single buttock. Even then, my nap was quickly interrupted by an intestinal eruption in the adjacent stall. Still, the Barclays interns’ instincts were good. Napping at work can indeed improve alertness, memory and mood, says Kimberly Cote, the president-elect of the Canadian Sleep Society. She says 10 to 20 minutes is an ideal doze to restore acuity while avoiding grogginess or “sleep drunkenness.” Cote recommends a “forward nap.” You might recognize it from grammar school as “putting your head down on your desk.” As Sheryl Sandberg has advised the world: sometimes success in business requires leaning in.

Can a fancy glass really make Coke taste better?

I’ve always preferred to consume my Coca-Cola and my whiskey in the same manner: straight from the bottle. I’m joshing…about the Scotch. A fine crystal tumbler pleases both the hand and the spirit, but it’s hard to improve upon a chilled glass bottle of cola with a freshly popped cap. You are correct to eye Riedel’s recent unveiling of a specialized Coca-Cola glass with suspicion. The Austrian glass-maker has been making fine stemware since 1756 and contends its curvaceous glass—it resembles a pint glass with pinched trousers—“captures the distinct spices, aroma and taste of Coca-Cola and creates a magical sensorial experience.” This is what Riedel does best: convince people they need more glassware. It began in the 1950s, when Claus Riedel customized glass shapes to purportedly direct wine to different areas of the tongue. His fat-bottomed Burgundy Grand Cru glass, launched in 1958, remains part of the company’s catalogue, joined by a rose-shaped rosé glass, an eyedropper-invoking vessel for sparkling wine, and on and on. The $20 Coke glass is the first designed by the company for a booze-free beverage (that is, if you dismiss water, which I always do). But the fancy glass rests on a dubious premise. While the shape of a glass can affect certain attributes—like how quickly a wine reacts with air or how easily one can inspect its clarity and colour—Gary Pickering, a professor of wine science at Brock University, tells me that most peer-reviewed studies find shape doesn’t matter much. That said, a good glass can improve the drinking experience in other ways. “Present an average wine in beautiful stemware, and the experience and perceived quality of the product is enhanced,” says Pickering. As for Coca-Cola, I contend its bottle is plenty beautiful.

Why must my co-workers hang their stinky gym towels on the backs of their chairs?

Clearly they don’t realize it’s unwise to air their dirty laundry in public—especially when it is literal and not just cliché. Find a discrete location, like a forgotten coat closet, for such purposes.

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