Sunday, October 5, 2008

Saturday Night Lives

At least it is a pretty drive. Over the bridge, I look out and see the greenish-blue gentle waves of the Carquinez Strait as the sun sets on the horizon. If only I were going, say, out on a date, maybe to a nice restaurant with a lovely bay view where we could watch the sunset while we eat something really tasty. I'll bet those people in the car next to me are on their way to do something just like that. That car over there has got five youngsters in it, and by youngsters I mean they are under thirty. I'll bet they are off to the City to paaaarrrrtttaaaaay. I wish I'd done a lot of partying when I had the chance.

But how could I have known that my standard Saturday night destination was going to be work? I have, for about the last 2 years, been a weekend night shift worker. Much of that time was spent working 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., and now it is usually 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

So when I am on my way to work, you are going out to visit friends. Or going to San Francisco for a night on the town. Or you might be coming home from Lake Tahoe or your grandma's house. And I am doing my best not to hate you. Or wish that I were you.

I knew what I was getting into when I took the job. Well, sort of. At the time I decided to get into the police dispatching biz, the dispatchers at my agency seemed to eschew the weekday day shift, instead opting for weekend and graveyard shifts. After all, who wanted to be in the building when Administration was there breathing down your neck? Well to me, this sounded grand! You mean to tell me I could have a cool job like police dispatcher and work normal hours like I'd been doing since 1990? Amazing. While I did get to spend about six months on just such a shift, after that the tides turned and all of a sudden weekday day shift was the place to be! Being one of the lower people on the totem pole, that meant that I got what was leftover, and that meant weekend nights. (Though I did enjoy an all too brief interlude working 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Let me just take a moment to remember how cool it was to wake up with no alarm and have a Sunday off and feel like a normal person... okay, I'm done now.)

But for all my kvetching about my hours, I have found that after spending all this time being a weekend night owl, I kinda like it. Do I like that everyone else I know is off weekends and that in order to see them they have to go out on "school" nights? No, I don't like that part. Do I like that I have no days off with my husband? Well, sometimes that is not such a bad thing, but it would be nice to have one day off together without one or the other of us having to take time off. And it would be great not to have to take time off to go to weekend parties and get-togethers and see friends that live too far away for school-night hanging-out.

I'm also not thrilled about the fact that on Mondays when I get off, I don't necessarily have the option of sleeping. It just depends on my husband's schedule and the kid's sleeping/nap (in her opinion naps get a great big "BOO!") schedule, and don't even ask me why she doesn't go to the sitter's that day, because the sitter is 30 miles away, and it's a long story.

But I have to say, I definitely dig commuting against traffic. That is super swell. I feel so grateful as I zip through American Canyon and come out on the other side and see all those poor souls stuck in that messy area where 680 merges with 80 and people are trying to get off to get onto Highway 12 (for the love of God and all that's good and holy, please, put another lane in there, that area is ridiculous!).

I love what the sky looks like at 7 a.m. Sad to say, I'm never up that early unless I am just getting off work, because I get up when Kayla does on our days off, and she has been liking to sleep in, which is fine by me!

I love being able to go to Target on the weekdays. At my Target in Fairfield, if I go before noon, I have the nicest lady whose line we always get into, and she has been my checker of choice since back when I was pregnant with Kayla. One of these days I'll devote a whole post to the friendly people of Fairfield. Anyway, it is wonderful to take care of any kind of business on a weekday. Granted, the stores and businesses aren't deserted by any means, but it is better than dealing with weekend crowds.

I don't like that since my body clock does not know if it's daytime or nighttime, sometimes on my days off I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep for an hour or more because I feel like I should be up. But I do like when I'm at work and it's a certain time of the morning and the sun is just starting to come up, and I can go to the window and take a look and take in the stillness of the street below.

I don't like that on my days off I sometimes feel so tired, that I think if a group of travelling carnival people came by looking for a cute kid to put in their show, I might just offer up Kayla if the price was right and it would mean getting a nap. And I mean a real nap, not a nap that consists of 10 minute intervals of sleep followed by someone opening up my eyes with their little fingers and saying, "MOMMY, WAKE UP, OPEN YOUR EYES!"

I do like that just like the song says, the freaks come out at night. It's true. You get some nutty stuff going on at night that you just wouldn't see in the daytime. At the same time, it's mellower at night, because all the people who want to call up and yell at you about something in the same way they'd complain about a meal they didn't like in a restaurant and think that somehow you should be able to schedule crime so they could be guaranteed a particular time time at which they could speak to an officer - those folks are sleeping, which is nice.

So, if I ever get the choice in the near future of working this shift or working a weekday day shift, which one am I going to choose? Commute traffic. Getting up early. (Let me tell you, no matter how much sleep I've had, it's always easier to get up at 4 or 5 in the afternoon than it is to get up at 5 in the morning. Always.) Getting the kid up early and out the door. Arrrgghh.

I guess I'll need to think about that one.

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