In my country, it is very common to have a nap in the office after lunch, especially in summer. Apparently, people in The Netherlands don’t have that custom, possibly because they only eat a simple sandwich instead of a hot meal, or because they drink a lot of coffee.
Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
It took me quite a long time to get used to the Dutch custom of staying awake the whole day. And sometimes, after a crazy night or really exhausting meeting, I still want to nap at my table for a few minutes to get my energy back. But it never works here. Usually I am woken up by the polite but persistent sound of a voice calling my name: ‘Danny, Danny, are you okay?’ If I keep ignoring it, it is often followed by a tap on my shoulder until I respond. Those nice Dutch people are really surprised when I stare at them with red eyes and tell them I am just sleepy.
I visited Japan once and saw with my own eyes that people there even sleep standing up in the metro. So I do think the people in the office could leave me alone while I sleep briefly at my desk. Disturbing my nap like that is actually making me not okay! I am considering putting a sticky note with the text ‘sleeping’ on my forehead next time. Mind you, they might then wake me up to ask: ‘Why is there a paper on your forehead, and are you okay?’
Ying – ‘Danny’ – Deng, a PhD candidate in Food Immunology, from China
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NL: ‘Ik slaap!’
Na de lunch een uiltje knappen achter je bureau. Ying – ‘Danny’ – Deng vindt het heerlijk en baalt er dan ook van dat Nederlanders dit heel raar vinden. Het kost hem moeite om de hele dag wakker te blijven. Een enkele keer geeft hij toe aan zijn slaperigheid, maar dan wordt hij steevast gestoord door bezorgde Nederlandse collega’s die denken dat hij niet lekker is. Nu overweegt hij om voortaan een post-it op zijn voorhoofd te plakken met ‘ik slaap’ erop.