|Written by Sushilove51 | Photo by A. Chandra|
“Funny thing is I used to stay up all night and called it Fun”
– unknown author
I know there’s a stigma about working the night shift. It isn’t good for your health. It isn’t natural your body wants you to be tucked away in bed. Still, despite all of this. I’ll always prefer Nights to Day and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m not sure as to why. Except for the tranquility I feel during those late hours.
It may be a useless talent of mine that has developed over time. By “Useless Talent” I’m piggy-backing of the theory mentioned in that Tarantino film, “Planet Terror”. It was said during a dialogue between the character Dr. Dakota to a patient.
“You know, my girlfriend had a theory. She said at some point in your life, you find a use for every useless talent you ever had. It’s like connecting the dots.”
Having grown up in Southern California. Very close to Mexico. I’ve partied very frequently since the age of 15. (All you really needed was $15 and a fake id.) While I was up at any hour who knew that I was possibly training my body to be ready for the graveyard shift.
It’s not something you can put on your resume. Word-for-Word. You have to spice it up. Instead, of saying something like.
“I’m able to rock out for 48 hours straight”
You can instead say “I’m able to give 110% working long hours on any shift”
like I said, “Spice”.
When the time for our base’s deployment exercise came around. I’d gotten tasked as a Guard to work the Night Shift. This connected the dots of my useless talents to other useless talents I had.
I remembered every time I spent sitting in a garage watching movies with buddies. Kind of what a guard does. In the sense that you sit on your butt and are required to be alert for long period of time. (Of course, credit the fact that your head is on a swivel ready for bad guys.)
Who knew that chit-chatting about random topics like who has the best crossover in the NBA, The law of attraction or the benefits of wheat grass. In front of Soda, Monster energy drinks, and McDonald’s would someday give me the skills I needed for a future career.
I looked around and thought that life has started to get better. Deciding to stick around has finally started to pay off. I wouldn’t let nothing ruin the good news I’d been giving. Even if I had to work it alongside someone with one of the worst reputations.
To me he wasn’t all that bad. He was from Sudan. Had a very Sudanese name. However, was preferred to be called Matthew. I assume he was tired from American guys mispronouncing it. I knew him from Basic Training. I’ve always thought he was an “all right” guy. But then again we didn’t really speak a lot to each other. A lot of the other guys avoided him like a wild fire.
One of the reasons was his Temperament. They said he didn’t know how to take a joke. It was said that whatever was said to him he took very personal. And taking everything people say to you personal can get your feeling hurt a lot in the military.
Since, most of the Leadership are straight shooters when it comes to talking and they could care less about your feelings. For example: if we are exercising and someone’s not fit enough and slowing everyone else down. None of them will baby you. Instead, You’ll more than likely hear leadership say.
“Hey fat ass, you should start throwing up after you eat. Then you’ll finally make the run time”.
Also, Americans participate in the Art of roasting. Which by definition is insulting your fellow man for fun. And when it comes to roasting I believe there aren’t any safe zones. It’s pretty much open season for everyone. But, to Matthews credit this is something you have to kind of grow up in to get used to.
The other main reason no one wanted to work with him was because of his smell. Which I admit was an acquired kind of off putting. Back in Training school, we stayed on the same floor and you knew which room he stayed in by that pungent, combo that could be confused with hamster cage hay and ripe onions.
If he said that he was growing onions in his room. I could imagine people saying, “Oh it makes perfect sense”.
Instead people said “Bro, you smell like crap. Did you take a shower?”
I admit this would make me want to get out of guarding a post for 12 hours with him. But, it didn’t bother me so much. Because, since I got to Japan. I had the worst allergies of my life. My skin would flare up and get red. I would wheeze when I went to sleep. And, I was immune to the smell because my sinus where always stuffed. I wouldn’t be able to smell the gun smoke if I fired a rifle. Everything was okay.
As far as how Matthew’s personality. I’m the type of person who tries to understand. And if he was sensitive I wasn’t going to try to bother him. I didn’t need to roast him. He’s probably had enough of a hard time coming to America from Sudan and all. I had no problem with him.
One top of everything. The Supervisor said we’d be guarding the exit gate on the West Side. This was easiest task. When you’re guarding the exit gate your required to do nothing but sit there, couple radio checks and grab your binoculars every now and then. And whenever they simulate a Chemical Attack you can pretend to put a Gas Mask while the guards at the Entrance gate have to actually have it on for hours at a time. Running around like toddlers while the Training Instructors are evaluating their every move. But, who knows maybe I would have been happy either way. Looking at the bright side might be another useless talent being put to use.
*The day our shift started*
We sat there two men making a living sitting down, chit-chat about random topics. In front of Coke, Monster energy drinks and McDonald’s. All my life I thought that this was just a Useless Talent. Well, past negative thoughts. Look at me now because It can’t be that useless if it puts food on the table.
During our shift Matthew and I converse about life experiences but after about two hours in there is only so much that we can talk about. Until the two of us start to get tired. We retreat to our books or magazine.
*Three hours later* Matthew starts to giggle.
I question him out of curiosity. “What’s so funny man? you read something good?”
Out of nowhere Matthew says, “You know the guys at work like to joke around a lot”.
“Yeah, nothing like a good laugh” I respond.
“Yeah, it’s very different from where I’m from”
“It’s a sign of aggression to make fun of someone the way they do it” Matthew says sternly.
“Yes, and you don’t want to start fights where I’m from…Because we’re I’m from we fight until the death”.
I just nodded along, and thought to myself. “Wow, this got uncomfortable fast” I pulled out my book. And decided not to talk the rest of the shift. because I wasn’t ready to die nor to kill. I was just looking forward for time to pass. Not out of fear of him. But more so we can get into my favorite time period.
It begins at 0400 and ends around 0445 this is when the sun starts to rise.
To me there is something, “magical” about this time period. I know that once I’m here I get this burst of energy. Everything feels more calm. Everyone gets calm. The wind isn’t moving. The air seems to feel fresher. I think about a new beginning. And the inability to articulate words to convey the beauty of it all.
I just learned accept that you don’t need it. All the understanding of why something is enjoyable. I have to tell myself “How about you just enjoy the mystery”.
Then another memory comes to mind. I smile about it. Even if it’s kind of sad because it’s a story of wasted opportunity. And not much can irk a person’s soul worse. There’s that sense of regret of saying the wrong words or not saying anything at all.
Then all that’s left is hope. The hope that something better will come. A better chance. Your life’s Destiny.
Are there any talents you thought were useless but a moment they became useful?