Do You Respect Sleep?


Like you, I deeply respect the institution of sleep. A young nap, snoozing, siestas- the whole lot.

When a pretty girl asked me recently what my dream job was, I replied without even winking: “I want to be a bed model”.

Before she could ask why, I had responded to her with an enthusiastic explanation: “Who wouldn’t want to wake up, go to work and sleep again? And get paid for it?”

She was not convinced. I put her irrational scepticism down to a lack of sleep.   

Espresso addiction aside, I truly respect sleep. The other day, when a sharp elbow with a large smile on the taxi ride home directed my attention to a fellow passenger slumped over in the front seat, I began to remember why.

The lady sitting next to the hapless somnambulist was a mattress of mercy. Her hijacked shoulder kindly offered as a feathered-pillow to the exhausted stranger. Whenever our taxi lurched forward or braked suddenly, the lady would adjust her posture to ensure the passenger was not roused.

A day later I was in the same position; an elderly lady squeezed next to me in the backseat of a white Hi-Ace, handed me her R8 fare, and no sooner had the taxi driver turned on his radio and pulled out of Bree Taxi Rank that she was asleep on my shoulder.

Where Booysens Reserve road turns into Soweto highway and the city lights melt into a drowsy haze- I’d sat absolutely still till then- I took advantage of those last moments of illumination to sneak a look at the lady’s face.

A pretty, wrinkled face pleated with exhaustion, but also the trace of a smile. The smile hadn’t been there before.

It told the simple story of waking up early, working hard, and returning home late, tired and desperate for a moment’s rest.

It’s a story that doesn’t usually make the headlines.

However, the story of Hilton Botha, taken off the Reeva Steenkamp murder case following errors her made at the crime scene, maybe one of these stories.

A private investigator in last week’s Mail and Guardian asked: “Did anyone ask him [Botha] where he was the night before, whether he was on a scene, or two scenes, whether he got any sleep”?

I reminded myself, the guys and gals on CSI always look well-rested and alert.


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