Saturday, September 6, 2008

Night Owl

People always say that working in the restaurant industry gives you a terrible schedule and messes with your sleep patterns. And in a way it's true. Working from 4pm to 3am is nothing if not different.

My non-industry friends tend to be very judgemental, giving me a look or a lecture when I tell them what time I got up this morning (read: afternoon) or when I went to bed last night (read: this morning.) My mother always tells me that I should go home immediately after work and go straight to bed so as to get a proper sleep. But think about it. If you work 9a-5p, the standard workday, would you ever think about going straight to bed when you get home at 5:30p? Skipping happy hour, skipping dinner, skipping tv/internet/phone time? Skipping the necessary end-of-day unwind? Of course not. Even if the day was long and intense and all you want to do is sit down with your feet up, you need that time, on the COUCH, not in bed, to relax.

So no, mom, I can't get home at 3:30a and go straight to bed. For one thing, I'm usually starving. Sure, I ate before work or at the start of the shift. But that was almost 12 hours ago, and most people don't leave that much space between meals. I know that 3 in the morning isn't a good time to eat, but if I'm going to be up for another few hours then at least the food has time to digest. And I need to work on my crossword, and catch up on my emails, because restaurant or bar jobs don't include a 'lunch' to help break up the hours of work. I never got a chance to sit down and make a phone call, or read a bit of my book. I worked for 11 hours straight and now I want to sit. I have to watch my tv shows OnDemand, because I missed them when they aired hours earlier. And I want to veg on my couch and read, because that's how I unwind, regardless of the hour.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about my job or the hours - I actually quite like it, the night-owl lifestyle fits me to a tee. I've never been good at going to bed early, even when I had a job that required a very unfortunate 7am alarm. Even when I worked at Starbucks and had to be there at 5am, I never went to bed before 1a or 2a. I just existed on a lot less sleep back then, and it all worked out fine. I still made it through school, a lot of school, with good grades and plenty of social time. All I'm saying is that I wish people didn't so look down upon me for my late-night tendencies. Just because I got up at noon doesn't mean I slept an absurdly long time. If I went to bed at 5a, I only slept 7 hours -- if you went to bed at 11p and got up at 7a, you slept longer than I did!

I also wish that the late-night life wasn't limited almost completely to restaurants and bars. I would LOVE an all-night grocery store, something other than 7-11. And I know in some places that Targets or Wal-Marts are open all night, but in the city my options are pretty much nonexistent. Grocery shopping is a normal, post-work activity. Get off, buy food, cook dinner. But I can't buy anything other than chips or frozen pizza when I get off work, which is not at all conducive to healthy eating unless you're quite the advance planner!

Oh Giant, when will you open a 24-hour location? With a 24-hour deli and bakery? When, oh when, will all bar workers be able to shop freely at the natural end of day?

(p.s. - could you make sure it's one of the locations with the built-in Starbucks, so I can get my frappuccino while I shop? you're the best)

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