Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Back in the Saddle Again-Midnight Shift Patrol
Well, I had thought that the good ole midnight patrol shift was behind me eight years ago when I had enough seniority to go to the afternoon shift, then the day shift and finally into investigations. God has a funny way of making the improbable, probable.
So here I am in my second week, back in uniform, back in patrol and back on midnights. It is a place I never thought I would be without sergeant stripes on my shoulder. Midnights (well really 11:00 pm to 7:00 am) is a strange place and creates a strange existence.
The first thing you notice is how you awake in the dark and go to sleep in the light. It really throws you. Every time I get up I have this one second of disorientation in which I try to figure out how early in the morning I am getting up. Is it three or four in the morning? Then my brain gets properly warmed up and I realize, oh, yeah, its 8:00 pm. The other thing is that at the end of your day its sunny out and yet you’re really tired. Since all of us has been programed from the beginning of our lives to be active during the light and sleep during the dark, you find yourself foolishly fighting to stay awake because you can’t really be that tired if the sun is out or so your brain lies to you.
The second thing that has struck me is how isolated and alone you feel. There is no one out here. In my eight hour shift I pass more deer, fox and opossum than I ever do with human beings. It brings out a Twilight Zone-esq feeling of living among people but not with them. When you are coming home from work, they are going to work. When you are sleeping, they are awake. Your breakfast is their dinner and your dinner is their breakfast. Your news is never current it is just a recap of the day. Etc.
The third thing is now I sleep alone. I have been married for more than fifteen years and only five of them have we not shared a bed together. Yet now when I come home, she is jumping up and getting the kids ready for school and she enters the bed right when I am walking out the door at night. I have to admit I have searched for her in my sleep, with that sleepy outstretched hand thing and came really close to falling off and hitting the floor when she was nowhere to be found.
Finally just some observations and situations that have come up:
“Why are you drinking a beer right now it’s 7:00 am!” But honey it’s the end of my day not the beginning.
“Why are you eating breakfast cereal for dinner again?” Well for starters it’s my breakfast time.
“Let set that appointment for 1:30 pm.” Um no that would be the same as setting it for 3:30 am for everyone else.
“Aren’t there scientific studies that show the midnight shift takes five or more years off your longevity?” Yes but so far the department has not accepted my proposal to have robots fight crime from 11 to 7.
“Aren’t shifts picked by seniority?” Only if the union will fight it when they are not.
“Don’t you pay a lot in Union dues?” We have a great BBQ once a year.
“What are you going to do for this whole year?” Keeping working and be joyful and remember all my friends that don’t even have a job to be irritated with.
“How is working midnights as a police officer different than the other two shifts?” It is easier; there are not any good or legit reasons to be out and about this time of night. Just ask your grandmother, she's right in her advice.
So as you can see I am in the process of coming to grips with it all and it will be interesting to see where this journey takes me. God is in control and he never seems to ask my opinion first before he acts. So when I have the ability to look back and see the context of this current situation I will understand, to a very tiny aspect, how our great and glorious God’s hand was moving to bless me. Until then, well…persevere and convince my daughter to stop asking questions at the foot of my bed at 4:30 pm.
1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Image Credit: NASA