“Always think outside the box and embrace opportunities that appear, wherever they might be.” ~~ Lakshmi Mittal
Working nights takes the concept of “normal life” outside the box and puts it somewhere in the margins. For those who do not or have never worked nights . . . you cannot comprehend. Further compounding the problems is when the night shift occurs on a rotating basis.
Days and nights. Weeks and months. Weekends blur into the week somewhere and if it weren’t for the 24 hr clock setting on military time as well as a watch that shows the day and date, I’d be completely lost.
Much like Platform 9 3/4 in the Harry Potter series, I often feel that nightshifters share a weird paradigm between days and nights that only those who work nights can enter or understand. What seems normal to a nightshifter seems odd to those around us. If nightshift workers are wizards, day shifters are definitely muggles.
Take sleeping during the day with room darkening blinds and shades, for example. During the daylight hours, my room is dark (as in almost completely black.) When the sky is overcast or it’s raining out, my room is even darker than usual. My body needs it, my mind needs it and I sleep so deeply that at times I wake up — disoriented and unsure if I’ve overslept. There is no way to open your eyes in a dark room and determine what time it is without the aid of a timepiece. My room while I sleep offers me the cloak of invisibility, or so I like to think.
Mealtimes are at odd hours and consist of bizarre and unlikely food choices for the time of day. Pizza at 2 am? Of course — when you’re heading home from being up all night a chesseburger sounds delicious! I generally take my lunch break between 4:30 and 5 am – 1) because I’m a good supervisor who waits and makes sure all the employees have had a break and I’ve relieved them, and 2) because I take a 30 minute nap which saves my shift and myself. If Harry can eat ice creams every day as he did in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I can eat what I want, when I want while I’m working.
Historically, nightshifts workers are often seen by their dayshift peers as lazy. Far from it! Nightshift workers have to exhibit more fortitude and strength of character in their work since administration is usually at home, spending time with their families and tucked up in their beds while we work. Nightshifters have to rely on policies and common sense to make decisions rather than having someone to whom they can go to request help with a decision or problem. Harry Potter’s world isn’t a separate place, rather it’s a world within a world which is functioning at it’s own pace. While there are leaders available in the professors and teachers, the characters solve many of their own problems by putting their heads together and working as a team — consummate nightshifters.