It’s Stranger in the Night
FOR REASONS KNOWN BUT TO GOD AND THAT BURGER AND FRIES I HAD FOR DINNER, I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I did wake up several times to go and contribute to the water table. Getting back to sleep I found a difficult problem.
I finally gave up at about 5:30 AM. I’ll make up for my tossing and turning today in front of the TV. All I need to do is drop my bones into the Rip van Winkle Memorial Chair, turn on TCM and BOOM! I’ll be sound asleep within seconds. Like a Polar Bear in winter.
During my sleepless times last night I could hear the traffic zipping past on Wabash Avenue and the blaring horn of a train passing by about a mile away. It all started me to thinking about those people who work “The Night Shift.” People like the train crews and the Doctors and Nurses in the hospitals, everyone whose lives run on a nocturnal timeclock. It is a different world they live in.
I had a job once where I worked from 12 midnight until 8 AM, but only one day a week. It totally disrupted my life for three days each week. It wasn’t until Wednesday that my mind and body readjusted back into a diurnal schedule – only to be ripped apart again on Sunday.
I did that for six years and I never got used to it. Those people who work nights all the time get into a different groove, but it has to alienate them from the bulk of humanity.
When the rest of the world is busy during the day they must be sleeping, and when others are either sleeping or out on the town – you are on the job. I know that when I was doing those overnight shifts I felt like a vampire. I was up, and hopefully alert, while everybody I knew was asleep.
I found the toughest part of every shift was from 4 to 5 AM. No matter how rested I was going in, at 4 AM my body and mind wanted to curl up like a puppy and sleep. It was then that I would schedule my duties that made me be physically active. (I worked in a converted hotel in downtown San Francisco that was a Catholic Charities Residential Program.) I would vacuum the lobby carpet, and do a walk-through of all six floors of the building to be sure that everything was kosher. Once 5 AM came around I had my second wind and cruised until the end of my shift. I did my job, but it took a toll on my life.
This is the kind of neuron firing that skips through my brain when I can’t sleep and TCM is only running Bowery Boys movies.
I am very glad that this doesn’t happen all that often because I know that for all of today I will feel disjointed and off center by about three feet to the left of reality. It is a different world on days like this one, but that’s OK – I’ve been there before and I’ll probably be there again.