Better And Better

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Deep nights.


Since I got my first job as a ranch hand at age 17, most of my jobs have entailed me working late into the night. Later, when I was a fry cook for a restaurant that optimistically stayed open until 11:00 PM, it took an hour or so to close, so I went to bed pretty late then, too. Thus when I soon after got a job as a help desk service rep, sitting in a nice climate-controlled office for twice the money, it seemed to be a grand job, with only one little drawback-- I had to show up at 11:00PM. That help desk job started me down a (literally) dark road. It seemed that most folk didn't want to work late nights, and that a lot of places actually paid you a little more if you would do the night shift. How could I resist?

Then, too, there was all this time on your hands during the day. I rapidly began filling up my days with an all-too-active social schedule, second job, and other timewasters. Are you seeing what was missing? Yup-- sleep. Oh, it feels fine to miss it during the day; you can't sleep too well during the day, anyway. But then, that night... ohhh dear.

As it happens, you need just a little bit MORE sleep when you work nights. All that homeopathic crap about your body needing sunlight at regular intervals to secrete melatonin turns out to be absolutely correct; if you're not getting some daylight, and you're up at night, you soon are nodding like a penitent at church. I took the night jobs, saying that they'd let me go to school, and finally finish that degree. But then I found that sleeping appealed much more than class. This, predictibly, did Bad Things to my GPA.

When I started as a cop, it was my fifth night job in a row of nocturnal occupations. To accomodate my school schedule (supposedly) and to properly put this young Newbie in his place, I caught weekday Deep Nights for the first year. In a small department, it is a long tradition that rookies work deep nights. I question this tradition, now, and here's why: At every job, there's a certain amount of learning that goes over your first year or so. If you put your newest guy on the deep night shift all alone, he has a lot of questions, and no one to ask. In a more perfect world, the most senior polished officers would be the only ones to work deep nights. But they want days, and by virtue of their seniority, get it.

I've seen some odd things, working deep nights. Heard some, too. I've seen nocturnal fauna that most people don't believe exist in their own back yard. Some of them were people. I've learned some interesting ways to wake up or stay awake. I've learned how use light to hide me, to signal, to warn, and to temporarily blind. I've also learned about the fraternity of the night. I'm not speaking of those silly Goth folks who only wear black, put white powder and black eye shadow on, and obsess over death. I'm referring to those of us who sleep during the day and work at night, and who all sort of get to know each other. Paper delivery guy. Waitress at Denny's. Dispatcher. Truckstop clerk. We all know a little something about the others' lives, because we share the important aspect that we routinely are at work and are typically alone, while others sleep.

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7 Comments:

At Saturday, March 03, 2007 11:41:00 AM, Blogger HollyB said...

Yeah, I hear you. Used to BE one of those folks, and there are times I think my insomnia is related to all those years of being a "Night Person". Because when I was one, I truly enjoyed it. I enjoyed being on nights much better than 3-11. That really bit.
But now, I don't know if it's b/c I'm gettin older or what, but I'm enjoying rising early. I get so much done early in the day.
Shudder, I'm now a day person.

 
At Sunday, March 04, 2007 1:41:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Working nights is a means to an end, ONLY, for me.

 
At Sunday, March 04, 2007 8:50:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

Salt 'n' Vinegar chips have a little "zing" that will prop open sagging eyelids.

Tam
Former 3rd shift convenience store worker.

 
At Sunday, March 04, 2007 11:58:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

And Tom's Great American makes the very best, guaranteed to make you wince. Warning: do not consume with paper cuts, chapped lips, or mouth ulcers. Owwie.

 
At Tuesday, March 06, 2007 6:15:00 AM, Blogger jrshirley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Tuesday, March 06, 2007 6:16:00 AM, Blogger jrshirley said...

Matt,

I feel you. I've worked quite a few night jobs. I'm actually taking melatonin now.

J

 
At Tuesday, March 06, 2007 9:12:00 AM, Blogger GUYK said...

When I was a lad working on the drilling rigs I always tried to work the graveyard shift..for one thing I could save more money..I slept during the day and couldn't blow my monet at the bar just before going to work..and the bars were closed in the mornings after work. Also, the bosses never came around to puff up and give orders at 2 a.m. Made for a more peaceable work condition..

 

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