Some times, working the 0215hrs shift is like being a fairy godmother, agony aunt, and companion all at once… while juggling shelving, printing, scanning, document delivery, and manning the reception desk.
People seem exceptionally grateful and polite when we are able to help them along with the very little things, like emergency stationery, working the University’s complex online system to submit an assignment, or the eleventh-hour book searches.
People seem exceptionally open to sharing dramatic life stories with familiar strangers they only know by face, as if merely seeking some verbal reverb of thoughts and opinions they already own and feel convicted of.
People seem exceptionally relieved to see another waking being in their presence, one that personalizes responses and interacts with them out of choice and will, unlike the screens of the electronic devices they labour all night on.
But then again, I probably am romanticizing the night.
I always tell my 0400hrs pals that we fetishize the night and each other. After all, 0400hrs is a lonesome hour to be alone and awake.
Here is a sneak peak into my day as 24/7 Postgraduate After Hours Librarian in the Reid Library. Yes, we are the warriors who keep your dearest Reid running round-the-clock during term time. On weekdays, I shuffle between the 2145-0230hrs and 0215-0745hrs shift, and on weekends, I occasionally fill the 1745-0000hrs shift.
I thank God for my graveyard shift. It’s a different joy from my other jobs in daylight. I love the peace and quiet. I love how awkward the night is. I love to see dawn break. Above all, I value the conversations and people that I’ve crossed paths with.
I look forward to when security drop by during their break, and when they come over for us 24/7 staff to run off for our own short break. I love their warmth. I love their openness. I love their life stories. I love my walks with them around the library. I love hearing about their day (and family, and home town, and life in general), and how intently they listen when I talk about mine.
I look forward to when the cleaners come in at 0400hrs. I love how extraordinarily chirpy we become when we greet each other. I love how they do their jobs with so much joy and effort. I love how they are proud of their jobs. As migrant hispanics, I’ve always wondered if they’ve had hard time coming to Perth, or if life in general has been difficult for them. So I ask, and I listen. I’ve come to respect my new found friends, and learn to appreciate all that I have and be grateful.
I look forward to when night owls around the library drop by my front desk for a chat. I love hearing about their research, about random gripes in life, about how dysfunctional we must be to love the night, about how sleepy and hungry we get towards the 0500hrs mark.
I look forward to the semi-new partners I meet each week, and how each of them have their own quirks. I suspect that Nic believes he is the reincarnation of a superbadass punkrock purpleloving hipster unicorn. And Lisa’s obsession with freddos and midnight emails make my day. Even xuan’s hyper intense prim-and-properness finds hilarity at three in the morning. Emma and I spend our half-hour overlaps griping about life and sharing our thoughts on feminism. Every week i find myself discovering more outoftheworld facts about Andrew and his former life as a journalist in China. One night, I got to meet Ariel, who proclaims that her body only shuts down at three am. She’s a regular patron who accompanies Lisa during her shift, and it’s such a joy to have her laughter resonate throughout the first floor when everyone else is fighting the zzz monster. And then there’s Shian, whom I’ve grown to love and nag at and whine to and tease like a sister. 3.5hrs in and we’re still celebrating the fact that there is at least one other functioning human being in the building with us at the moment.
I love my night patrols in the reid. Besides the fact that the nerd in me cannot wait to devour all the books I’m constantly surrounded by, and the open secret that I love libraries, I really do enjoy the mundane. I enjoy the time to myself, and talking to God in my head while strolling around. I cannot be more thankful for God’s provisions to me. I value my quiet.
The day-time staff start streaming in around 0630hrs, and the senior librarians get in at around 0715hrs to have their breakfast. It’s funny that they’re always amazed that “we young people” made it through the night without any major calamity, and with the Reid still in tact.
At 0745hrs, I take a leisurely half-hour stroll back to Tyrell. This is always one of my highlights of the day. Every ten steps, someone chimes in with a hyper-enthusiastic “good morning!” and my then-degenerating body reciprocates. I love stopping to chat with strangers on the street out on their morning walks, walking their dogs, enjoying the sun… the added bonus is when they lug along superadorable kids (who often whine about being made to go to school).
When the sun is being kind, I love the morning air, and that strange minty morning breeze. I take it all in. I get home. I change out. I greet the worm who would still be asleep. I plop onto my own gigantic comfy bed, and call it a day. Best moment of my day. Until I have to get up in four hours to head to campus again.