5 Things About Working at Night

I would be willing to bet most people reading this have a regular nine-to-five job. However, there’s a portion of the population that doesn’t. Those brave souls, like me, work at night.

When I left Kansas for North Carolina, it was to take a job as a copy editor. For those of you unfamiliar with the world of journalism, copy editors often start their days in the afternoon and work late until deadline. The deadline depends on the paper–particularly the circulation of said paper. But in general, deadlines are around midnight.

To paraphrase The Simpsons, you become isolated and weird.

5. Your Sense of Time is Thrown Way Off

When work straddles midnight (definitely less sexy than it sounds), it’s easy to forget what day it is. I’m not kidding when I say I’m only, like, 50 percent sure what day it is at any given time. Also, forget knowing the date off the top of your head. Thankfully, my watch tells me what it is, or else I would only be able to say, “I think it’s somewhere between the 15th and the 17th.”

Not only that, many people who work second our third shift don’t have a normal weekend. My weekend, for instance, is Tuesday and Wednesday. That means that my “Friday” is actually Monday, which also means I’m psyched when you’re pissed you have to go back to work. There’s more to it than that, though.


Occasionally, I’ll go out to get something before work on Saturday and become overwhelmed by how many people there are on the roads and at the grocery store. I find myself thinking “What the hell are all you people doing here!? Don’t you know I’m trying to shop!?” It only occurs to me later that it’s everyone else’s day off.

Speaking of shopping…

4. Shopping and Errands are Completely Different

Assuming you don’t make the mistake of going to a grocery store at 1 p.m. on Saturday like me, shopping, for the most part, is awesome.

Getting groceries during the middle of a weekday or late at night is so much less infuriating. There are always parking spaces, there are fewer people and there are shorter checkout lines.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Granted, if you go during the middle of the day, you’ll have to shop with the retired crowd–But it’s a small price to pay. If you go late at night, you’ll have to deal with certain percentage of degenerates. You know, the sort of people who bring a toddler to Wal-Mart at 1 a.m. I’m not a parent, but probably don’t have a baby at Wal-Mart at 1 in the morning?

I also don’t have to sacrifice my lunch break to go to the bank, DMV or post office, which is pretty great.

3. Keeping in Touch Can Be Difficult

This sort of schedule can present a challenge for maintaining relationships with friends and family. Essentially, you’re working while everyone else is enjoying their off time. If you’re lucky, you can take some time during work for a phone call with loved ones.

However, I know some people aren’t that lucky. In that case, you’re restricted to catching up on your off days (and as a I noted before, they probably aren’t Saturday and Sunday).

It also presents a problem when trying to hang out with people who don’t share your schedule. It really comes down to two scenarios: You have to get up much earlier than you’re used or they have to stay up/stay out much later than they’re used to.

Either way, it’s not ideal.

2.Vacations Are More Challenging Than You Would Think

I’m currently looking forward to a couple of vacations in the near the future. The point is to relax (obviously), but I anticipate my sense of time and schedule playing havoc with things.

I know trying to get on a “normal schedule” with everyone else is going to be an absolute pain in the ass. See, since I work so late, I get up at about noon–at the earliest. While everyone else thinks sleeping until 9:30 or 10 is “sleeping in,” it’s actually rising a bit early for me.

Usually, I get up so I can eat breakfast with everyone or go to whatever activity is planned, but it means I’ll be dead tired later. Consequently, I’m tired early for once, but everyone else wants to stay up.

I’ve found that it takes about two or three days to adjust. But then…Once my body gets marginally used to a regular schedule, I have to go right back to my weirdo schedule in a few days.

Also, I get that I’m white guy complaining about vacation. I know I’m lucky enough to have a job with paid vacation, so I’ll just head you off at the pass with the #firstworldproblems bullshit.

1. You’re Immersed in Your Own World

I guess all the other entries add up to this.

You’re kinda in your own little world. Sure, it can be maddening at times, but it can also be quite striking. Driving empty streets and observing a concrete ghost town is often a haunting experience. Maybe I’m overstating it, but I’ve always felt I’m seeing a part of the world or community that most people rarely will.


You also see every type of weirdo, freak and ding bat humanity has to offer. Listen, Wal-Mart doesn’t typically attract the cream of the crop to begin with, but try taking a stroll around Wally World at 2 a.m. on a weekday. You see some things. The same goes for the sketchy gas station I occasionally stop at on my way home from work.

Like I mentioned before, I’ve seen the sort of people who bring toddlers to Wal-Mart at 2 a.m.; I’ve seen teenagers set part of the women’s clothing section on fire; I’ve seen a stocker who passes his late night shift by singing R&B standards at the top of his lungs (regardless of customers); I’ve seen a guy try to buy two 40s (probably a total of $6) with a card and get declined; I’ve seen a veritable army of raccoons and opossums outside my apartment in the small hours of the night.

I’ve seen some stuff.

It’s not always pretty, but I think it’s given me a greater insight into humanity as a whole. Maybe that’s worth the strange hours.

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