Put simply, wage labor is a socioeconomic relationship that exists between two people whereby the employee sells their time to his or her employer. The sum total of that labor is then the property of the employer.
The employer typically contracts workers to labor between the hours of nine and five, and is lawfully obliged to give his workers an hour for lunch. Given the chance, most workers would trade their lunch hour in order to go home early and avoid the enervating rush hour traffic which gives them the sensation of a fly trying to swim to the top of a syrup can, but they have to be there until five so they might as well take an hour off.
Eating at work is rarely a pleasant experience. It’s either the nuclear remains of last night’s dinner, a shop-bought sandwich where somehow all the ingredients just taste of cold, or a box of salad where again, all the ingredients, no matter how many adjectives and virtues they promise to embody, also just taste of cold.
The worker gets the feeding over and done with as soon as possible, yet still has another fifty-five minutes to fill. The only thing the worker really wants to do now is spend as little of their working day conscious as possible. Yet alas, there’s nowhere to sleep, and no one wants to be like that old guy who spends his lunchtime at his desk, catching flies, looking ominously corpse-like. Occasionally stirring just enough to re-arrange his lips so that you can hear the drying walls of his inner mouth yapping together.
For me, the alternative has always been the toilet cubicle. This kind of privacy often smells thickly of human excrement, but at least it’s somewhere to shut your eyes and have a quick nap.
There is of course the car, but the thought of someone slithering in through my exhaust pipe, clambering over the back seat to get at me clings to, and suffocates me like a translucent film of dread.
For so many years I’ve fantasized about a kind of café you could go to and just pay to sleep for a few minutes, drift into a lucid dream perhaps, and then return to work a new man. Finally they exist, and seem to be part of a growing trend of public napping facilities in Japan.
On average they cost around a dime a minute, and have been welcomed by Japanese business owners as they feel as though the public napping facilities are allowing their workers to be more productive during working hours.
So time to wake up, employers, and let your staff sleep! – Ed