Friday, September 27, 2013

In Defense of the Night Shift: A Manifesto.

Have you every considered the term "regular business hours"? Generally regarded as sometime between, say, eight a.m. and six-ish, this is when the normal people work. When the OPEN sign is on, a real human answers the phone, and you can still find food for sale that hasn't been rotting under a heat lamp for 6 hours, this is when regular humans are out and about.

But not me.

I work at night.

We are a strange breed, we workers of the night. A little crazy, a lot of fun, and a whole lot of slap-happy by clock-out time, we love each other with a fierceness unmatched when the sun is up. Our team, made up of a couple of doctors, a handful of nurses, and the cops and medics that stop by to visit a few times per night, is a tight-knit ragtag bunch. Throw in a few Walmart employees, gas station attendants, a Betos cashier, a couple of folks at the McDonalds, and some delivery trucks, and guess what? That's the crew who keeps the world spinning after the sun goes down.

Mike Rowe should do a show on us.

Because many people haven't had the pleasure of working through the night (count your many blessings, name them one by one), here is a bit of education for you in the form of a list of things that really bug us.

1- Referring to our sleep in the daytime as "naps." Example: Oh, you took a four-hour nap today?! That must be nice! 

It's not a nap, ladies and gentlemen. It's all the sleep we get. And, generally speaking, it's crappy, door-bell-ringing, sun-shining, neighbor-running-the-lawn-mower-filled sleep.

2- This: "Oh yeah, I used to pull all-nighters in college all the time." Of course you did, Sherlock. Everyone pulls all-nighters in college. It's like eating horrible frozen burritos and stealing your roommate's milk for your cereal; it's part of the experience. This is not the same as working overnight over and over again until your internal alarm clock throws up its pointy little hands in defeat and takes off for El Paso. In fact, I'm barely qualified to write this at all since I only work part-time. (Read: WIMP!) My full-time graveyard coworkers are the real rockstars, and their experience is nothing like that one time you crammed for that American History: Pre-Revelution through the Antebellum Period final.

3- Scheduling required meetings repeatedly during the daytime.

Now, I get it. Sometimes meetings have to happen. It is what it is, and mostly, I'm cool with it. But do you know what I sometimes want to say?

"Fun! So is the next meeting going to be held at three a.m. then? Hmmm? HMMM?"

I see you smiling, like we're in on a secret little joke, the two of us. Of course we won't be holding a meeting in the middle of the night, you chuckle, because that's when people sleep.

Except, not me. I'M NOT ASLEEP.

Do you know when else I'm not asleep? During that daytime meeting. Admittedly, it's not just because of that daytime meeting, although that is incredibly inconvenient. No, I'm not asleep during that daytime meeting because--get this-- I have other things to be doing during the day. Believe it or not, that's why I work AT NIGHT. Believe it or not, I'm not some sort of bat or chinchilla or any other sort of mammal identified by Wikipedia as nocturnal. (I know, I checked.)

Actually, I sacrifice my sleep and my sanity as a result of a very conscious decision about what works best for my life and my family. I slog through a shift while everyone else sleeps and snores because that's my preference. It works for me, and if it means enduring the extra ten pounds that have taken up residence on my hips due to that accursed midnight cafeteria run, well, so be it.

Don't get me wrong, I consider the flexibility of my job to be a very tangible blessing, and I don't ever, ever forget it. I have lived through the alternative in the daytime working world, and in my case, it was horrific. I feel very, very lucky to work while my children sleep. I work with people who are smart, funny, and overwhelmingly fantastic, and I am better for it. I love the night shift.

That said, please don't call it a nap.

1 comment:

Allie Waite said...

I can't say I understand exactly, but I sure do appreciate the night shifters who work with Brody!! I don't know how you guys do it. And yeah, it's definitely not a nap. People say the dumbest things.