Wouldn’t it be great to be a superhero? To have powers like flying, turning invisible, or having incredible strength? Imagine the things you could do for the good of the human race. I envy those guys.
Oh, I have a superpower all right, but not one that benefits anyone except me. I can turn it on in the blink of an eye, and when the going gets really tough, I know I can always count on it to see me through.
My superpower: I can sleep anywhere at any time.
I have slept during important meetings – sometimes while sitting right next to the Commanding Officer.
I fell asleep in a Navy class after a senior officer started his brief with, “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep during this lecture.” (I did, and he noticed.)
I have slept inside a five inch gun mount – during a gun shoot. (One of my prouder moments.)
I have slept standing up, sitting down, and in virtually every vehicle ever made.
In 1998 I was flying in a puddle jumper from Atlanta to Biloxi, Mississippi when Hurricane Georges made an unexpected turn to the north.
We flew right through it. The tiny plane did its best to stay aloft, but I have to tell you it was nip and tuck. We shook and bounced and swerved so badly that I was convinced the little plane was going to break apart. The few passengers tried their best to maintain their composure, but eventually they all sank to Maslow’s second level of needs (survival), and the plane was filled with an inhuman symphony of gasps, anguished cries, and guttural moans.
Being a fellow who hates to fly anyhow, I was at the end of my rope. My stomach was alternately hitting my seat and my chin so often it felt like someone was dribbling a basketball inside me. I knew that at any second – or the next hunded foot plunge – I was going to start screaming and clawing at the seat in front of me. There was only one thing to do.
I jammed my jacket against the window and dug my head into it, forcing myself to sleep. The next thing I remember is arriving safely in Biloxi, the plane and my dignity intact.
Having a superpower isn’t without its baggage, of course. Everyone is always trying to knock off superheroes, to the point they often have to wear disguises when they go out. Spiderman is often accused of being a crook. Similarly, my power of sleep tends to torque people off. Especially if they are trying to have a conversation or expecting me to be doing something like – oh, I don’t know – standing watch or something.
It’s just the cost of being a superhero, I guess, but it’s a cross I will have to bear.
So next time a comet is heading toward earth, or an evil scientist is plotting to take over mankind, you know who to call.
Call Superman. I’ll be taking a nap.