Monday, January 11, 2010

The Night Shift

I saw a dear old friend I worked with for many years this morning.  She is a nurse in labor and delivery, and has been lobbying for me to work there for years.  Yes, I am quite certain that will never happen.  While I know that most women would be tickled to have a mildly overweight (mildly put) middle-aged guy with a five-o'clock shadow and a case of reflux that produces untimely musical outbursts peering twixt the stirrups and shouting "PUSH" like Mike Ditka on a blitz, I will pass.  Definitely not my cup o' tea; lost me at the whole "mucus plug" thing.  So I gently repeat my mantra, "I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no babies".  Okay, so I borrowed that line.  But it fits.

It was good to see her, and some of the old gang from the night shift.  It brought back memories of incredible camaraderie.  The night shift, unlike their day and evening counterparts, is a different animal entirely.  When the managers, directors, movers and shakers are all snug in their beds with visions of meeting minutes dancing in their heads the night crew carries on with the business of healing, relying not on decision-makers paid to interpret spread sheets and budgets but on one another, becoming a cohesive team that rarely gets the credit it deserves.  For many years I enjoyed the company of wonderful nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, and rad techs.  Each one of us had our idiosyncrasies, but we overcame any impatience and grew into friends.  That was a gift, and one I miss dearly.

The world bathed in sunlight can be a frightening place for a boy raised in the dark hours of the night.  There are protocols and proper channels to follow.  Decisions are made by those paid to do so.  Innovation can be viewed as overstepping bounds.  The critical thinking one became accustomed to may be reserved for someone with more experience, more education.  There are adjustments that must be made...but, oh, to sleep at night, to wake up with the world and drink coffee when it was meant to be enjoyed...these things are so wonderful that the race becomes tolerable, and one can convince himself that the challenges are offset by the increase of vitamin D coursing through his veins...but there are difficulties, to be sure.

Of course, the grass is always greener...

So to all those who toil when the rest of us slumber, I honor your work, and offer my thanks.  To the nurse who tends to the sick and the broken, the policeman who patrols the streets, the soldier standing watch, and the baker making them sweet tastin' Krispy Kremes, I salute you.  I know most folks think you're a bit odd and a little pasty looking, but I know the truth - you are innovative and independent, creative and confident.  You deserve a lot more recognition than you get.

Besides, who else is going to know what pizzeria delivers at 3AM?  I mean, c'mon, that's gotta come in handy.


  1. Nice post, David. I've been working primarily the night shift for over twenty years, through the coast guard, the border patrol, as an artist, and now at a ranch. There's nothing like it but it does seem to be pointing to an early grave. Another year and a half of it until Cecilia is in school (unless another baby miraculously appears on our doorstep) and then it's 9 -5 for me...

  2. For all its charms, it does wreak havoc on the body, slowly and insidiously.

  3. Dave, I read all your tidbits and you know I truly appreciate this get really do. I would welcome you back to split some grub from LaNova till midnight or Avenue till 3am!

  4. Oh, yeah - sausauge sub with bacon, baby!

    You are a fine nurse, Gilly, and I am PROUD to have you on our team.

  5. What a sweet tribute to the night owls! Very enjoyable!

  6. Very fond memories of working with you and the other "boys", (Charlie, Greg, various Dr's), and I always told Marilyn I should be paying HER for the privilege of having all the laughs, camaradrie, and yes, the occasional "SBD"s" that you boys dropped on the night shift. Great times with great nurses and staff!


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