Friday Firesmith – Night Shift 2

Night Shift is a brutal environment. Some people I have known in my life thrived in it, enjoyed it, and couldn’t get enough of working the graveyard shift. I’m not a big fan of it at all, except you can bet there’s not going to be too many people messing with you at three in the morning. There is some insulation to be found in the darkest of hours and the latest of nights. There’s a lot to be said for isolation or at least solitude, in my opinion, but then again, I live alone so I am used to it.

I’m usually good up until about two in the morning. Two is when my reserves start running out and it seems like six will never arrive. Four hours is a very long time to be tired, and sleepy, and by that time I am very tired and very sleepy. The population of the world I work in begins to flatline to zero, practically, and the music on the radio seems stale and worn.

At five, the fast food place that has good bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits opens up and they’re running a special. I need food. This is just a step away from junk food, and I know it, but I have to eat. The lights come on as I pull up and I realize they’re getting a late jump on things. The menu board outside isn’t lit up and as I order the woman on the other end seems distracted. Two biscuits, thank you and no combo and do not supersize it and no I do not want coffee or hash browns or a collie dog as a mascot. But thanks for asking.

The woman hesitates before she takes my money, “I’m really sorry,” she tells me, “but we’re running behind. It’s going to be a while before your order is ready.” She looks back as if to make sure no one hears her, “You still want it?”
“Sure,” I reply and she makes change. I pull into a parking slot and go inside.

Once inside I can tell she’s ready for the angry customer who is out of patience and hungry. It’s five in the damn morning. But just a couple of hours before this a crescent moon rose, and as tired and sleepy as I was, it looked like the Universe was grinning at me.

“Have you ever seen one of those little yappy dogs, the fuzzy ones, who act like they’re going to eat you alive when they’re on the other side of a fence?’ I ask.
“Uh, yeah, I have,” the woman says and she laughs at this, a little, not quite knowing where I might be going here.

“When someone wants to take it out on you, whatever is going wrong in their lives, just think of them as one of those dogs, because when they have this counter between you and them it’s what they are when they’re angry,” I tell her.

She laughs hard at this. “Yeah, I can see that.” And she goes to check on the food, still laughing.
There was nothing I could say and nothing I could do that would have made the food arrive faster. I could have fussed at her, acted like it was the worst thing ever, threatened to call in an air strike on the place, and maybe she would have gotten mad, maybe she would have felt bad, or maybe it would have just been another mad person and another bad day. But the Universe had smiled at me, in the wee hours of the night, and I decided, as tired as I was, to smile back.

Smile back at the Universe.

You may be the only smile a person like that sees all day.

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

12 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Night Shift 2”

  1. The worse the situation the nicer I am. It almost always gets the problem solved faster, you don’t ruin someones day and you might get free stuff. I have gotten pretty good at giving the stfu look to anyone giving a server a hard time.

  2. Right on. I stopped for gas at the gas-carwash combo on a wind whipped cold rain day. As I pulled around the end of the carwash there was one guy on duty, huddled up to the building against the weather, with no business and making no money because they work for tips.
    I stopped, called him over, and gave him a dollar, telling him he should get something for standing out there in this weather. For one damn dollar I made his day, and gave him a story besides standing in the rain for later when he’s having a beer with his buddies.
    He’s been my friend ever since.

  3. Maybe we should put less energy into the deportation of illegal immigration and work harder on ridding the world of those little fuzzy yappy dogs or anyone else that has no desire to get alone with their fellow earth mates.

  4. I worked the night shift for about the first 10 years I was in the Air Force; Night shift was when nearly all the aircraft maintenance took place and for the most part we were constantly busy so the time past much quicker and once all the planes were back in operational condition we closed up and went home; regardless of whether that was midnight or 4AM… we didn’t just sit around twiddling our thumbs at all; I much preferred that to working day shift when we mostly just sat in a stuffy panel van with a bunch of chain smoking, coffee drinking slackers (most of whom hadn’t lifted a wrench in months and loved working day shift because their knuckles didn’t get dirty) driving around ‘just in case’ one of the aircraft wasn’t able to launch due to some system problem. On those rare times i was stuck on day shift I almost always hoped something would break just to get out of that damn truck.

    The downside to dayshift; especially when I was at Moody; was that my dorms were about 100 yards from the active runway. – Trying to sleep in a dorm room with the constant roar of F4’s hitting the afterburner during launch ops was never fun… – however in the Phillippines and on the nevada test range there were some excellent benefits to night shift. – I’ve always loved stargazing and when I was out in the middle of the nevada test range, hundreds of miles from the nearest ‘town’ sitting around 6000′ ASL we had some pretty spectacular night skies. That never grew old.

    for a few years (while I was stationed in Nevada) I also worked weekend nights in a convenience store in Las Vegas; dealing with a lot of drunks, shoplifters and addicted gamblers that would spend hours at the video poker machines. two of our regular customers were strippers from a club off Fremont that lived in the apartments behind us. I had to deal with a few robberies, mostly of the grab and run variety; only one person was foolish enough to try to rob me by showing me that he had a gun in his waistband; oddly enough my gun was bigger and in a shoulder holster that i could draw from much faster than he could; especially since he was stupid enough to show me and give away the element of surprise; he ran and jumped into a waiting car to speed off but didn’t get very far before the police caught up to him; apparently they had already robbed another store about 2 blocks away and; I’ve already pointed out that they weren’t the brightest criminals in recorded history; apparently they assumed the police wouldn’t be out looking for them 10 whole minutes after their last armed robbery. However despite the rather unpleasant moments did i mention that two of our regular customers were strippers?

    • Keith, I’ve been shot at. That puts gunplay into a whole new light. A lot like being divorced versus being single. There is a difference. But I’ve only pointed a gun at one person, and I was acutely aware of what I was doing.

      • Being shot at changes your perspective somewhat. I’ve never owned one before and actually have even less desire now.
        But I have bought a few knives since.

        • Scokat, new monster backstory is up. And I’ve begun to wonder if wasp spray wouldn’t have gotten me through the night as well as a gun the only time I ever felt I needed it.

  5. Not displaying displaced aggression: that is a good thing. It was not her fault that things were late, so I am glad you took it in stride and not out on her.

    I, too, try to go with the flow and not get angry at those who are not at fault. Even if I am talking with someone whose fault it is, I try to stay pleasant and polite. As Chris said, this helps the situation.

    • Tim,
      Thank you. I cannot imagine anything I could have said to make the food cook faster. But I could have made her feel worse. I have no idea what was going on in her life at that moment, but just because I wanted a two dollar biscuit doesn’t give me the right to abuse the poor woman.


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