The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

October 11, 2006



But there's something really cool and different about working at night.

And I'm revisiting that experience this week, although it's not a night shift, just an evening shift for a week. It's 3 to 11 p.m., not overnight, but enough to make the body feel odd and throw sleep patterns out of whack and causing eating habits to be rearranged.

I've worked overnights before as a young 20-something, driving truck for a while and then working in a frozen food warehouse for a big Canadian grocery store chain, loading and unloading pallets of ice cream and other goods and carting them around on pallet trucks and forklifts.

Playing cards on breaks that were longer than they should have been, laughing at each other dressed up in snowmobile suits and throwing this and that at each other; against the rules, racing those neat little pallet trucks up and down the aisles.

A bunch of years later, on a 7 p.m.-3 a.m. shift as a night editor with a national wire service, laughing at jokes and telling stories among the three or four other people there, working hard but playing hard too.

There's something about working nights that's special. Everyone else on the planet is pressing their TV remotes or brushing their teeth to get ready for bed, or is already in bed or blogging or something, and you're with this small group of people working.

It's a special camaraderie. The world, for the most part, has stopped its hustle and bustle 9-to-5 existence. But you're there, keeping things humming, all the big bosses gone home to the suburbs, and you're having fun.

Of course, it's not the best situation to be in if you're single and want to be dating and part of the crowd. If your thing is being part of the social scene, hey...while you're workin', everyone's partyin'.

Or if you have young kids and you can't be there to help them with their homework or to sit down to eat supper with them or read them a book before they go to bed. If your significant other works days, you can wave quality goodnight time goodbye.

But it's still, for a short time, a neat thing to do. And some would say it's the only thing to do.

Would you mind being a Night Owl on the job? Have you tried it and if so, did you like it and get the same thing out of it that I'm talking about? Or does the whole notion of it just turn you off? And do you have an appreciation for people that do this, night in, night out?


  1. I relate to something you've written there - my Dad's been doing hellish hours for years. Because of it I have very few memories of any conversation had or time spent with him. We actually don't even know each other. And of course we always had to be quiet so as not to disturb him while he slept in the day -which of course is in opposition to your very nature when you're a child.But he of course was doing what he had to do to keep us all.To his credit he's a hard worker and has never missed a day of work - not one -since he started. Has never taken a sick day. Years down the track he's still doing hellish hours -his shift now is 4pm to 4am.Good on him.

  2. Pallet truck racing ... please devote an entire posting to this. With pics of you in a snowmobile suit.

  3. Lee:

    4 to 4...eek, that would be rough. And there has obviously been a price to pay, as you've eloquently said.

    But I guess you've got to do what you've got to do.

    Personally, if I had a choice, I wouldn't make that choice NOT to be with my kids.



    I don't know how I can do that...we weren't exactly anxious to be recording our own misdeeds.

    But I'll see what I can rustle up...

  4. i agree with you. the quiet of the night seems to reduce everything to a simple and uncomplicated level.

    i owned a restaurant for a miserable, brief period, but i will never forget how great it was at 1 am after the saturday night rush to turn up the music and clean the place with the cooks and waitstaff. it was as real as anything could be.

    nice post. i'm glad we've connected. we owe cherrypie a night out. btw, this girl is a gem. if i were free, which i'm not, and she were "non traditionally" interested, which she's not, i would be knocking at her door.....


  5. Yeah, Cherrypie's quite a character.

    I've been trying to comment on her last few posts but can't seem to open up the comments section.

    Maybe she's blacklisted me!

    She's cool, she is. I'd love to meet her. Full of life and wit.

    I'm glad we've connected too. Your posts are very warm and inviting, same as your house.


  6. I used to work graveyard over the summers when I came home from the university. I love what you described here...the commraderie and the fun. One of the things I enjoyed more than anything though, was watching the sun rise.

    Dawn always made me feel that everything and anything was possible for the world...and for me.

  7. It's this silly b.l.o.g.g.e.r ( I daren't say it out loud in case it hears me and swallows my comment). I certainly haven't blocked anyone, least of all you, WW.

    Canada is on my 'To Do' list ( Grandad emmigrated there when he was 17 and I've got an embryonic book idea that will require research trips). If I ever manage to stash enough away without Jack exhausting it, I'll definitely be knocking on your door. Until then, if you are ever in Lincolnshire...

    KJ - *blush, wink* I'm always open to new experiences

  8. I used to barmaid in some busy pubs. When we finished, we'dd all go to a local nightclub and then onto a late-night Indian restaurant. We'd be coming home as everyone else was getting up for work. It was great.

    Late nights in a cold, creaky empty office are more usual nowadays and are no fun at all.

  9. My husband works 3-11pm and I work 8:30am-5:00pm. It sucks because we don't get to spend much time together, but that may just end up being the secret to the longevity of our marriage. My ideal shift would be 1-9pm... allows me to sleep as late as I want in the morning, I don't get home too late, and finish early enough to still have a social life.

  10. Pam:

    What a beautiful comment.

    The "Graveyard Shift." wonder people who work overnights feel like they're dead or don't exist. But they can be so alive.

    Watching the sun rise, and making you feel like everything and anything was possible...fantastic.



    Curse Blogger, then, but not you, thank god.

    You of course have ample haven here in Winnipeg for your book research (are you serious? Nah...)

    My door will be open, or if I'm out, the key's under the little garden elf thingy's butt.

    KJ: *Blush*, *Wink*, so am I. Oh, I'm kind of excluded from this discussion and possibility.

    I'll run along then.

    Ooh, Cherry Pie again:

    A barmaid? A sexy one I'll bet. Did you get to say, "Time, Gentlemen, Please?"

    But that sounds great, the gang headin' out for a pint and then some eats.


    Thanks for being here and warming up the place (it's snowing outside here!)

    Those are BRUTAL hours for the two of you! Aside from days off, is there a time during the day when one of you is NOT sleeping?

    Not sure that's the greatest secret to a long marriage...personally, I think 10-6 would be about best.

  11. To Cherry Pie:

    Re your post Single Swingle

    (other bloggers: I'm commenting on Cherry's post here because I can't access her comments section on her blog; pardon the interruption).

    CP, this was a beautiful emotional revelation by you about a true regret with Jack.

    It killed me to hear you describe the prickly technician's reaction once you told her there was no were alone.

    Very poignant. It's easy to empathize with your remorse, even for a guy.

    Now, about the vibrator...

    Get one, you silly bird! Get 10! Don't deny the pleasure. Call it Bob or Basil or Bart, but get it!

    Like Carm says, everyone's got 'em in the female fraternity, married, divorced, single, or what have you!

    Just remember, us guys are the real thing. We're not machines, we're not bright orange, we can't stay "up" forever, there's a whole bunch of things we can't do...

    But there's some things we can, too, that the Big V can't...

  12. Im here mate. Was too busy today I had no time to blog at all...suxx I know.

    Anyways tnxx for being concerned, ur so sweet!

    Night shifts? Never did one in my life. Atleast not yet. I think I'd be good at it...cos Im a night owl. A midnight caresser :) Besides like u said, the quietness of the night and less ppl ard, things would be far more easier and clearer to handle.


  13. I always envied those who could work night shifts. I am one of thosewho is a morning person. I can get up as early as 4 am and work but for working late hours I don't think I can. Reading nd blogging is fine though...:D

    Good luck to you!

  14. Keshi, the Midnight Caresser:

    I bet you are...

    Ya see? You set these superhuman blogging standards and the minute you don't post or answer your 176 commenters, we think something's wrong.

    I often burn the midnight oil too, and do find it peaceful. Still enjoy living in the light, tho.

    Glad you didn't go MIA.


    Hiya! I've been (and still can be) a morning person and don't like sleeping in, even when I can.

    Although 4 a.m. -- yeech, I'm just starting to get into REM sleep then.

    It's that body clock thing.


  15. Aside from days off, no - there is no time during the day when we are both home and one of us is not sleeping. For the past three years I've been staying up late and awaiting his return after 11:00pm, but it makes mornings extra difficult for me so I'll be giving that up as of this week and heading to bed early.

    I think I'd be perfectly content with with 10-6.

  16. Oh yeah. Nothing like being the living dead. Brian and I would occasionally work nights at the same time (Him- The Westin, me: Rehab Centre) we would phone one another to whine about how crappy we felt, then meet for breakfast when it was finally over.....
    Yes, its other-worldly, and has special memories, but it absolutely kills the body.

  17. Joyce:

    That's neat, you and B meeting for breakfast after a hard day's night and whining to each other.

    Now that sounds like togetherness.


  18. Geez -- what have I missed while rolled up in my pity party (old dog starting to fade, brilliant son failing Math spectacularly -- and wait! There's more!). There's been great posts here, not to mention intriguing chats in the responses. I want to be a fly on the wall when two of my favourite bloggers get together (KJ and Cherrypie). Bet you'd like to be a fly even more, WW! And no, I don't think they'll read this since I'm responding so belatedly.

    (BTW I haven't been drinking if that's what you're thinking now. :)

  19. Andrea:

    Hey, you're a day or two late and a dollar short (maybe you need to be holding a bottle of wine in your hand right about now).

    But yes, we've been busy here this past week and much has transpired that you have missed out on.

    However, we miss you too and are glad you're back. Sorry to hear though about the dog and the math (same son with the GF troubles?)

    Anyway, yes of course I'd like to be a fly on the wall too.

    Maybe we could buzz over, find a spot with a good view and rub our hind legs together.

    (In a totally platonic way, of course). Don't flies have about six million eyes or something?

  20. Meet you at the wall, WW. Just popping out for a bottle of the good stuff.

  21. Andrea:

    OK, I've phoned ahead and made reservations. But, duh, isn't KJ away or something?

  22. what i wouldn't give for my work day to be 2 to 11 or something!

  23. Angel:

    2-11? When would you see Damien? Or anyone else on the planet for that matter?


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