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.