Columnists

Sleeping Aground

We had just landed at the L.A. International Airport, excited about our vacation.  As we walked through the terminal I saw a man—I think it was a man—head slumped over, legs draped over his carry-on bag. Normally I wouldn’t have given him another thought. Goodness knows, I have always boasted of my own daytime slumbering ability. What caught my attention was the odd blanket he was wearing around his head and chest.  The reason I only think it was a man is that all I could see was his nose.

Sacking out in airports has become commonplace. Cancelled flights, airlines that won’t spring for hotels, and long delays between connections all contribute to the need to toss and turn right alongside the tarmac.

There’s even a website, sleepinginairports.net, with tips for people who get stuck overnight because of cancelled or delayed flights. Apparently, what he was wearing is called The Snazzy Napper (at least that’s what he told me when I woke him up.) This is a solution for those of us who have desperately sought a flattering way to position our torsos while sleeping either at the airport or in our seats aboard the aircraft. Now you can scrunch and contort any humiliating which-way. Drool and scratch to your heart’s content. Why? Because the Snazzy Napper will protect your identity.

This colorful piece of cloth fully covers your head and neck like a burqa, admittedly not the most inconspicuous garb at airports nowadays. The Snazzy Napper has one hole for your nose or, if you have a cold, you can mouth-breathe there. You can also place your eye or ear in the aperture, but you will probably suffocate, a minor design flaw casually referenced on the warning label. It also says not to drive a car or operate machinery while using their product, especially if you feel drowsy…which I thought was the whole reason you were wearing the thing.

When the item was first introduced several years ago, it was a big hit. But there were critics. One woman threatened a lawsuit, not because it didn’t work, but because it did. She caught some great zzz’s as her purse, iPhone and carry-on luggage were all stolen during her snoozefest.

One couple tried theirs on in the car before they left for the airport. They missed their flight, having lost precious minutes convincing a police officer that the two of them were not on their way to a bank heist. Another guy was annoyed that the product did not come with a more complete set of instructions, which is odd: all you have to do is find the hole in the blanket and then stick your nose through it.

Some folks, disappointed with the product, apparently called The Snazzy Napper hotline and were surprised that no one answered.  Considering the product they’re hawking, it’s easy to conjure up a good mental image of what was going on in their call center.

My wife said on the way back from L.A. that I snored, drooled and fidgeted in my seat on the plane, and that it was quite annoying to other passengers. Mary Ellen checked online and told me the Snazzy Napper is no longer available, so I’ll never have to drape myself in that contraption…but I only avoided it by a nose.

Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com.