To nap during business hours at one’s place of employment, in a work area (bathrooms excluded), most notably under a desk. Popularized by the impressively lazy and manipulative Seinfeld character George Costanza.
Why I Costanza’d
I have Costanza’d many times. All my instances of Costanza’ing happened at the same job — a marketing gig for a big time bankruptcy law firm in downtown St. Louis. My title was “Marketing Assistant.” I came across the listing for the Marketing Assistant position on my alma mater’s career center website, which I quickly learned after graduation was one of the few job hunting websites whose idea of a marketing position didn’t mean wandering down busy streets and handing out flyers that were destined to be discarded and used as hobo toilet paper. The word “marketing” is used to disguise terrible jobs on career websites as often as the term BBW is used to disguise morbidly obese women on RedTube. It’s big BEAUTIFUL women dammit! That doesn’t include someone who looks like she just drove her Hoveround through a Burger King drive thru on a hot day!
The job listing requested that all applicants meet the following requirements:
- Bachelor’s Degree: CHECK! I had graduated college and was destined to do BIG things!
- Working Knowledge of Social Media (Twitter/Facebook/etc): Are you kidding? While a 47-year-old woman with a combined 251 Facebook friends/Twitter followers was trying to teach me about social media in school I wasn’t paying attention because I was too busy dicking around ON social media! That’s not a working knowledge, that’s layered expertise.
- Working knowledge of video editing software (Adobe Premier Pro): Check. Perhaps one of the three or four valuable things I actually learned in college. I don’t like to remind myself that I could have paid $45 to learn that same software in a daylong class at a random computer lab somewhere.
- Working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop: Eh, I can learn it (and did).
The job sounded great. A big bankruptcy law firm in the heart of downtown that required a college degree and all these skills, most of which were not easily attainable; it HAD to be a good job, right? I was so young, so stupid.
The first problem with the job was that it required me to be there at 7:00am every morning. Totally arbitrary arrival time, by the way. There was no real reason for it. That ended up being a solid 50% to 95% of the reason I was napping at any given time, depending on the situation. I’m not a morning person, and no amount of coffee can make me one. I had to drink A LOT of coffee while working there, just to keep my heart beating before noon. All it really did was send me to the bathroom, where I’d more often than not end up taking a nap because the exhausting deuce and caffeine crash left me drained (HA!).
Pretty much everyone else on the planet is ready and willing to take a nap at any given moment. If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Pfft not me, I don’t need naps,” then go climb the side of a mountain or something you high energy, “live life to the fullest” douche.
The other reason I found myself taking a fair amount of naps at this job, either under my desk or in the john, is because after a short while I stopped giving a shit about it. Actually, to put it more accurately, I started to give as much of a shit about the job as the job gave about me. The job paid pretty badly. Like fast food bad. It paid worse than that actually, and I came to that conclusion while grabbing my food from the night manager of a McDonald’s at 1:00am after drowning the sorrows brought on by my meager wages with what little I had left of said meager wages. I thought to myself, Holy shit, this guy probably makes more than me. Not only that, but with a college degree I probably could have gotten a job managing a McDonald’s, and that would have been a career upgrade, at least pay-wise. Basically, it was the worst epiphany I’ve ever had in my life. I know that sounds dramatic, obviously in the grand scheme of things realizing McDonald’s management makes more than you is still better than coming to a stark realization like, If I don’t cross the border by sunrise that warlord is going to chop my feet off with a machete. Well, it’s a little better. Still pretty bad, though.
So, why take this shit job? Because unfortunately the job I had left for this one, working another “marketing” job that was actually just a call center, paid even less. Though at least at that job I got to spend my days prank calling people with funny names and making fun the horrific poops my middle-aged co-workers took.
The Process of Costanza’ing
Getting to the point where you feel comfortable enough at your job to Costanza, or hate your job enough to Costanza, is a process for most people. At first, you have foolish restraints, naïve thoughts such as, Dammit, I’m a grownup now and I need to act like it, or, This isn’t responsible, or, What if I get caught? All of this is laughable. First off, the fact that you’re a grownup is why you’re so tired. The only people who don’t need naps are between the ages of 6 and 12. Pretty much everyone else on the planet is ready and willing to take a nap at any given moment. If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, Pfft not me, I don’t need naps, then go climb the side of a mountain or something you high energy, “live life to the fullest” douche.
Whether or not it’s responsible of you to take a nap at work under your desk shouldn’t be a concern either. At the very least, there’s a good chance your employer is doing something much more irresponsible to you, especially if you’re at a crap job. Maybe you spend your days drinking from coffee mugs that have asbestos fall into them every time someone closes the pantry door too hard, maybe your boss is dipping into everyone’s 401ks to pay for a stripper’s abortion so his wife won’t find out, maybe you’re a stripper whose manager makes you have sex with high roller clients but doesn’t provide a health care plan that will cover birth control. It could be anything.
The word “marketing” is used to disguise terrible jobs on career websites as often as the term BBW is used to disguise morbidly obese women on RedTube.
As far as getting caught goes, denying that you’re actually sleeping under your desk is much easier than you would think. When you Costanza, it’s a light sleep, because you still have to be aware of your surroundings. If your office door opens you have to spring back into consciousness. I was never caught Costanza’ing, but my go-to excuse was always that I was under my desk to “reconnect a wire.” Most of the people I worked with were 40 years old or greater, and never used any technology more complex than email or Microsoft Office. Rattling off some nonsense tech talk like, “Oh I was down there re-enabling my fire wire,” would surely have confused them enough to avoid further questioning. Even if they were still suspicious, you, as the Constanza-er, have the advantage of plausible deniability. “Why are my eyes red? From the dust.” “What’s with the marks on my face? It’s a skin thing that flared up today and frankly it’s quite rude of you to point it out.” Unless you’ve been caught napping before, people will be more than willing to believe you should you be forced to insist that you didn’t do something as ridiculous as take a nap under your desk in the middle of the day. George Costanza was also one of the great liars in modern history, and I can’t help but believe he would be telling you the exact same thing.
Costanzas vary in length, but the longer, the riskier. I think my personal Costanza record is around 45 minutes. That afternoon really got away from me.
We also encourage you to send in pictures of yourselves “Costanza’ing” at work. It’s the hottest new Postgrad meme.