Everyone who’s been in training for long enough has had a sleeper on one of their courses… anyone who tells you any different is either not telling the truth or isn’t a trainer.
My first experience of a sleeper was many years ago.
I was doing a course for… well, let’s just say it was a branch of our armed services… on decision making of all things. Actually I was part of a delivery team and I’d finished my bit just before lunch.
Lunch was jolly good, served in the Officer’s Mess by stewards in white gloves. Very civilised.
The afternoon session was to be in the darkened lecture theatre and I decided to sit in. The fellow up on the stage must have been eighty if he was a day… a very distinguished old cavalry officer in full fig. But I have to say he didn’t half drone on.
I was sitting next to two officers, we’ll call them Rupert and Tarquin (although those may not have been their real names). Five minutes in, Rupert turns to Tarquin and says, ‘God this is boring, I’m going to sleep.’
And that, after folding his arms, is exactly what he did.
Eventually the old boy up on stage saw that Rupert was snoozing and said to Tarquin: ‘I say, my good man, the fellow next to you has gone to sleep. Would you mind waking him up for me?’
To which, quick as flash, Tarquin replied: ‘You put him to sleep, you wake him up!’
I stored this little gem away for future use and, sure enough, the opportunity came to use it.
My wife and I were running a course, again many years ago. She was delivering the afternoon session and I was sitting in the group next to a guy who had come on the course with his son mostly, I think, because he was bored at home after retiring.
Anyway, he was a big guy, had had some health issues and had had quite a plateful at lunch… not a combination conducive to afternoon concentration. Of course he duly fell asleep.
My wife noticed he’d fallen asleep and asked me to wake him up.
You can see where this is going can’t you?
Before thinking the consequences all the way through I said ‘you put him to sleep, you wake him up!’
Pandemonium in the training room, all very funny and the guy woke up at the noise of the laughter. I still maintain the joke had the desired effect.
It also turned out to be a spare room offence… whoops.