Imagine it…night after night of feeling perpetually sick from the absolute destruction of your circadian rhythms, the smell of cooking oil and grease permeating your clothes both at work and home, and the bulk of your customers outrageous and disrespectful drunks that are as incapable of speaking quietly as they are of tipping. And what can they do about it? “Smile.”
It’s totally unfair because although we cops deal with the same people in the same inebriated states, we can at least address it with our hands as opposed to our own smiles, and we only smell like hash browns for the few minutes after we eat them, not all shift long. You’d think the wait staff would be bitter about this, but they’re not; they adore us and seem to relish living vicariously through our actions with their most frustrating clientele. This is fair enough, I suppose, but I have to tell you…few and far between is the Waffle House waitress I’d tangle with, dear reader.
My shift ends long before the courts open, so like all third-shift cops, I have to kill time between end of watch and the opening of the Courts building. These early-dawn hours are terrible hours to have to stay awake (after being up all night as it is), but I always appreciated witnessing the transition first-hand of the people that have just been re-deposited from wherever the sun puts them at night as daylight reclaims the city, and the cycle begins anew.
Hours before I may have been watching a pair of coyote lope across the parking lot of Hamilton Place Mall without another car or human in sight, the first ones I’d ever seen, the scene neatly framed by darkness for my imagination to fill in whatever it needed. Now? Now I could see everything with all this accursed “light” and it was making me crazy, overloading my brain. People were everywhere again. And yes, it IS terrible.
I sat at a red light pondering this, waiting to pass through, when to my left a car ran the light, a rear tire riding on a rim kicking up a giant rooster tail of sparks as it blew through the intersection past my marked police car in a rain of primitive fireworks. “Now that’s rude,” I thought, and I began to smile as I reached down to flip on my lights and siren. I smiled because I knew right away that this man wasn’t just drunk: He was still on third shift as far as he was concerned. We were both just up past our bedtimes.
We were going to get along just famously.