Anthem for the Nocturnal

by V. Buritsch-Tompkins

I want someone to write a song for the nocturnal.

I worked the late shift for over a year while I was unmarried. My friends saw less of me, I saw less of my family. My nights off should have been spent out, but I often found myself at home, or looking for something to keep me awake and active. Wal-mart was a popular all-night location that I could visit for an hour or so. Walgreens, other late-night snack venues were also available.

Someone needs to write a song for the night-shift at Quick Trip, Wal-mart, and the 24-hour call center employees. We’re there because someone has to be there at midnight or 3am for the other people who are up past their bedtimes. On nights when we’re bored out of our skull because there’s nothing to do but watch pre-recorded television or ridiculously late-night programming, there needs to be someone out there sending us support.

One of the people I worked with during that year said that the night shift wasn’t recommended for more than two years in a row.  Another had been working the third shift for nearly five years, if not more. It’s more than just a shift – it’s a complete turnaround from normal life.

I had to stay up past my “bedtime” to do normal things such as visit the bank or government buildings. The freedom of driving in and out of work without hitting traffic was liberating, but the lack of a company canteen until the last hour of my shift was unfortunate.

Do I miss it?

I do, actually. I miss a lot of it – the people I worked with, the freedom I had, the confidence in the job to do it alone without supervision.

But. I wouldn’t trade my current job and the life I have now to have it all back. Not for one minute.