As a dedicated employee who has often been accused of sleeping on the job (I seldom hear the accusations because I am, of course, asleep), I knew it was a dream come true when I found a job on which I would actually be required to sleep.
I refer to a position (horizontal) with the impressive title of snooze director, which opened up recently at Sleepy's, the mattress company that doesn't rest on its laurels when it comes to giving people a good night's sleep.
Emily Barrett, 25, was hired in 2011 as Sleepy's first snooze director but left the company a couple of months ago to become a production assistant for MTV. When I read that the job was open, I applied. Then I took a nap so I would be refreshed and coherent enough to make a good impression.
I did just that when I went to Sleepy's headquarters in Hicksville for an interview with marketing manager Andrew Jedlicka, who asked why I thought I was qualified to be the new snooze director.
"I was born for this job," I told him. "In fact, I was born more than three weeks past my due date. My mother later said that I was sleeping happily and didn't want to come out. Also, I have a lot of experience because I'm a geezer who has been sleeping for decades. And I'm a newspaper columnist whose work frequently puts people to sleep."
Then I told Jedlicka about the message on my answering machine at work: "Hi, this is Jerry Zezima. I'm either away from my desk or at my desk but fast asleep. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you."
"Those are excellent qualifications," Jedlicka acknowledged. "What if we made you an offer?"
I yawned and replied, "I'd have to sleep on it."
The interview went so well that I was called back for the decisive round at the Sleepy's store in Manhattan, where I learned that I was one of five finalists out of 70 applicants.
The other four finalists were women in their 20s.
Unlike the first interview, this one was recorded by a camera crew. I repeated my spiel (now it can be used as a cure for insomnia) and emphasized the health benefits of a good night's sleep -- especially, I added with a wink, on a quality mattress. And I said I knew that the job of snooze director entailed more than snoozing. I would have to stay awake long enough to make appearances at Sleepy's stores and talk to the public about the restorative effects of sleep.
I also performed the "pillow test," in which I explained how to tell if you have a good pillow (it should snap back to its original position after being folded in half, preferably not with your head on it); demonstrated my nightly sleeping positions (none vertical); and stressed the importance of lying on the proper side of the mattress (the top).
Though I performed well, I lost out to Elizabeth Murphy, 25, of Floral Park, Sleepy's smart and personable new snooze director.
"I'm very excited," Murphy told me over the phone after the decision had been announced a week later. "I think my ability to talk to people helped. It's also a good thing I'm a morning person, since the interview was before lunch."
Murphy added that she sleeps with Daisy, her 50-lb. beagle, who is an even better sleeper than she is. "It's conceivable that Daisy could have gotten the job," said Murphy.
"We loved Elizabeth's energy," explained Jeff Lobb, chief marketing officer for Sleepy's. "But we loved you, too. You made a compelling case, with all your sleeping experience and the fact that you're a writer who helps others fall asleep. Still, we felt that Elizabeth was the right choice. I hope you're not too disappointed."
"Don't worry," I said. "I won't lose any sleep over it."