Saturday, June 28, 2008

Children of the Night, Or: Try Getting a Decent Burger at 5 A.M.

In Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Rant, humanity has divided itself into two separate and distinct worlds: Daytimers, and Nighttimers. Naturally, the Daytimers are the respectable folk and the Nighttimers are oppressively ruled with an iron curfew. It’s not an exact reflection of reality…but it’s close enough.

As a night shift worker, you have two choices in life. One is to live in a state of constant sleep deprivation, staying up during the day with the “normal folks” and catching naps when you can. The other is to give yourself over to the night. You sleep at sunrise, get up at sunset, and generally just live like a vampire. A very lonely vampire, because, as it turns out, most of humanity likes to socialize at about 3pm. But that’s not going to work for you. You need to reserve your strength, because fresh blood is hard to come by.

Actually, contrary to popular belief, us Nighttimers don’t actually feed on the blood of the living. But we do enjoy burgers, and it’s impossible to get burgers when we want them.

Imagine – every restaurant serves breakfast at dinnertime and lunch at breakfast time. How fast would you lose your mind?

Imagine – every telemarketer calls you at 2am, waking you from a deep slumber.

Imagine – the hottest hours of the summer are right when you’re trying to get some sleep.

Imagine – every store and restaurant is open for about two hours, unless you want to stay up late.

Imagine – when you need to return someone’s phone call, you have two options. Stay up late and groggily dial, or groggily dial the moment you roll out of bed.

Of course, there are the positive sides. Most of the time, it’s very quiet. I can blog in peace. It’s quite jarring when there is noise, though, such as on Friday and Saturday nights when the drunks stumble home. No matter how “normal” the schedule feels to me after a year, it’s still creepy and unsettling when other people are out and about. This is my time.

I can’t complain too much – I chose this life. It’s my fiancé who is on the night shift, and I’m just along for the ride. But as someone who typically stayed up until 4am on school nights, I’m a natural fit – and I sleep better than ever.

But our poor nocturnal dwarf hamsters are so confused.



K said...

Its now 5:32.
I very much agree with you and would like to state that, although I Do* work a day shift, its the closing shift.. meaning my 16 hours awake, start at 2-3 pm. You are also very right in your hatred of the fact that not many things are open at 4 am..
The 7-11 had a big sign saying "closed due to staff shortage"
I think I almost died .
Kevin s. Edmonton ab.

sprinkle4 said...

Having worked the night shift on and off (mainly on) for the last 20 years has been an exercise in patience sometimes but there is nothing like being at work at 3 a.m. and seeing the occasional car drive down the road and wonder what THEY'RE doing up and where they're going.

K said...

Its like when i used to go to work with my dad at the radio station.. 4am, 36 km drive to the opposite side of the city, and we see... 5 cars maybe? it's pleasant to be a "(child) of the night" I just wish the solstice would pass faster, so that the darkness lasts longer.

Liz McD said...

Kevin - Unexpected closures are definitely the bane of my life, because I have such a limited amount of time to accomplish things that need to get done. I do prefer the summer, though, because it's nice to get some daylight hours in before darkness falls for the rest of my "day."

sprinkle - It's always fun to guess about things like that. Late-night radio host? Nurse? Crazy insomniac?