When I graduated college the job market was in a much better place than it is now. I went on 5 job interviews and got 5 job offers. They all were really great offers in their own right but the one job I really wanted, and landed, was a page designer/copy editor job at the daily newspaper just a couple of blocks from where I went to college. The only “problem” with said job (other than the low pay, but I knew that was going to be part of the deal heading into college) was that it was a hybrid second-third shift kind of hours. The day started as early as 3 p.m. and ended as late as 1 a.m.
Trying to look at the bright side, I figured a) I could sleep in every day, and b) Colleen worked 3-11 at the time at the Holiday Inn so we could hang out together all the time! So I took the job.
About a month after I started my new job I got called up for my first and only time serving jury duty. I never got to go to trial but I did do a lot of sitting during the two days I spent at the courthouse. During this time I met a woman, a fellow potential juror, and we spent some time making idle conversation. I told her about my job and the hours I worked, and she told me that she had taken a job with odd hours when she got out of school, too. She said the job lasted 6 months and it was more than 10 years ago, and to that day her sleep schedule had never again been the same. “Don’t do it too long,” she warned me, “or else you will never have a normal sleep schedule again.”
Staying up late and sleeping in late came easy for me. I have always been a night person (though I’ve been called a morning person too), and getting home at 1 a.m. never meant going to bed at 1 a.m. I would spend late-night hours hanging out with other friends with the same schedule, watching TV or doing various other activities that allowed the sun to come up before I went to bed some days. Oops. Sometimes I even worried about oversleeping and being late to work (how embarrassing would that be? Although it did happen – to others on my same shift, though not to me.)
My friends learned to call me at 1 in the afternoon and say, “Are you awake?” before they would start talking. Sometimes they would call at 6 at night and ask the same thing. What, do they think I sleep all the time? I would wonder at first. But then I realized it’s pretty impossible to keep up with my schedule if you’re not me – sometimes, even if you are me.
I did it for six years. A lot longer than my fellow juror’s six months.
I worked another year after that technically on a day shift for the newspaper but it was really the 70-hour-a-week shift (which meant days, nights, weekends …). So really, I did it for seven years. I left the paper a year and a half ago. And I fear the woman that gave me advice back in 2001 was absolutely correct. I may never see 7 a.m. the way the rest of the country does. To me it probably feels like 3 a.m. does to you. – a time I should never be awake. I work from home so for me being at work at 8, fortunately, means waking up at 7:55 (enough time to put on coffee). When I’m not on a client deadline, I’ve been known to start my work day at noon and end it at midnight.
When I do work 8 to 5 it typically means I’m napping at 5:01. And still not getting to bed until late – midnight is considered early for me. 1 or 2 a.m. is more typical of a bedtime.
When Kevin asked me to run with him at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, I thought about just staying up until then. And I would have possibly done it if I didn’t have to work the next day, meaning no time for a nap. As it was, I went to bed at 1:30 a.m., got up at 3:45 a.m., ran, came home, worked for a couple hours, took a nap at 7:30 a.m. and got up at 9:30 a.m.
So if you see me online late at night and again at 8 a.m., you know why. And if I’m sleeping at 4 in the afternoon, you know why.