Thursday, July 07, 2005

Come to me, my children of the night

I am one of the world's night shift workers. While most of middle America is tucked snugly away in bed, dreaming of sugarplums and faerie cakes and Vegas whores, I'm slaving away answering phones at the local emergency dispatch center. Which is a pretty cool job, and working nights has its benefits (no suits looking over my shoulder, for starters), but the kind of people who are up at 4:00 AM (besides me) are just plain weird.

Let's start with the people who need to know the status of their gun permit application RIGHT NOW. First of all, that's not my department, so I don't know the status of your gun permit. Second of all, what kind of dark and sinister activity are you planning that requires you to be in possession of a legally registered handgun at 4 in the morning? I know where you live, pal.

We also have the Acute Hearers. These are the ones that call in the middle of the night to report that they heard a noise.
"What did it sound like?" I'll ask.
"I dunno, it was just a noise," they'll reply.
"Could you tell where it was coming from?"
"I dunno, outside somewhere."
"Was it someone knocking, or a car, or a voice, or what?"
"I dunno, it was a noise; it woke me up."
"Alright, Zippy, can you identify this noise??" bangbangbang
" it your head hitting the desk over and over?"

Okay, that last bit never happens.

We have three subsets of drunks.
1) Gregarious drunks. "Hey, darlin', sweetie, d'ya know if that one ocifer, whassisface, ya know the one 'm talkin' about, sugar, can he come see me?"
2) Angry drunks. "I'm out here at th' bar and this sumbitch looked at me and if'n you don't get someone down here right &^%*$%^ now I'm gonna &*%^$#@ kill him!"
3) Stupid drunks. These may or may not also be Gregarious or Angry. "Um, yeah, I'm inna parkin' lot and my engine's runnin' and everything but I can't get the car to move."

We do occasionally hear from Stoners, but not often, because usually by the time we've answered the phone they've forgotten why they called so they hang up.

Sometimes we hear from the People Who Need To Do Something About Their Insomnia And Get Some Sleep Instead Of Sitting Up All Night Thinking Of Weirdness. Granted, I sit up all night Thinking of Weirdness, but I get paid to do it. These people will call at the oddest times to ask hypothetical questions, i.e. if a Peeping Tom falls off his ladder and breaks his leg, can he sue me for having unstable ground under my window? What if I have a clearly visible No Trespassing sign posted? If the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, can I shoot the dirty hippie that's climbing my maple tree out back? (The answers, by the way, are yes, yes, and no.)

My fellow vampires - the C-store workers, the paper deliverers, the fast-food folks - have periodic bouts of extreme paranoia, during which everything and everyone they see qualifies as Suspicious and rates a call to 911.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"There's this really bright light in the sky, next to the moon, you might want to see if someone can check it out."
Sure thing, Sparky, I'll have my officers fire the Space Shuttle right up. "That's Jupiter, sir."

And then you have the Crazy People. Folklore tells us that Crazy People are affected by the moon; a full moon means people get Crazier. This implies that Crazy People come out at night. I don't know if I entirely believe this; I tend to think they're out in the daytime, too, but they get lost in the crowds, and it's only after everyone else goes to sleep and they get some breathing room that they relax and let it all hang out. Thus, I end up getting a phone call at 2 AM from Jehovah Jiwhad, Bright Morning Star, Keeper and Redeemer of the Wine Press, who wanted to let us know he was back from Hell. Then he hung up before I could ask him to send me some wine. I really wanted to try some, too. I bet it was some gooooood stuff.

I'm not claiming to be normal. I've worked a graveyard shift for four years now. Recently I've noticed that if I spend any time in the sun, I break out in an itchy rash. No way is that normal. One sunny snowy morning I walked out of the building and upon being accosted by bright white sunbeams bouncing off of bright white snow and burrowing sharp shards of sunshiney pain into my eyeballs, I threw my arms up and cowered back like Nosferatu being confronted by a crucifix-wielding Pope. That yellow face burnsss, yes it does, precious. BUT. I'm not armed (yet), I'm not drunk (right now), I don't scramble to dial 911 whenever a mouse farts in the attic (and if I did, I'd at least be able to tell the dispatcher that the noise came from the attic), I know the difference between planets and hostile aliens bent on world destruction (planets don't stick probes up my ass), and I'm not crazy. Much.

The Children of the Night are a unique bunch, out roaming around while the rest of you are asleep (unconscious, unalert) in your beds.

Pleasant dreams.


Blogger Deputy Trudy Wiegel said...

Marli, I think you pretty much summed up how all of us midnighters feel. I absolutely LOVE this post and passed it along to my supervisor. I think she printed it out and passed it around the office. You're awesome!

1:17 PM  

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