In the food industry, there are a few things you just have to get used to. When the world is celebrating holidays, you’re working. When the 9-5ers are enjoying a martini at Happy Hour, you’re working. When it’s a three day weekend and everyone’s at the beach, you’re probably working.
There is, however, a HUGE flipside.
When those same 9-5ers are waking up at the crack of dawn, we’re sleeping. And when they’re sitting on 405, bumper to bumper in rush hour traffic, we’re not. While they are all at work and the malls and grocery stores are empty and quiet and put together, that’s when we’re shopping. Bad grocery store Muzak and organized, full shelves. Ah…. Heaven.
It’s addicting, really.
There was a time not long ago that neither Brad or I hardly ever had to be at work before 4PM. We would get home sometime between one and three in the morning from whichever restaurant and then we would make ourselves some dinner.
Yep. Dinner. At two o’clock in the morning.
And you know that we don’t ever skimp on dinner. Not even at 2AM. Oh no, it’d be Roasted Chicken or Pork Chops or Pasta or some other crazy invention. It goes against everything any diet has ever told you, I know, but that was our nighttime routine. Sometimes I felt sorry for our upstairs neighbors. I’m sure they were having dreams of lavish feasts most nights, waking up to their bowl of cereal in the morning. One time, Brad made chocolate chip cookies after I’d fallen asleep early on the couch. I dreamed of bakeries and sweets. At least I got to wake up to the real thing.
Along with our eating schedules being out of the norm, we got onto a ridiculous sleeping schedule. I mean, you can’t just come home from slinging drinks all night long and immediately fall asleep. The brain is in smily, happy, customer service mode and it takes some time to unwind. I would usually fall asleep around 4am. Brad? He would typically see the sunrise.
At one point, we were setting our alarms for two o’clock in the afternoon to make sure we’d wake up to make it to work on time. And in Upstate New York in the winter, getting up at two only guarantees you about an hour and a half of daylight before the sun sets. Not that there was ever a chance to get any sun whatsoever, but my Rollins girl, 365 days a year tan skin got freakishly pale. And I wore all black to work every night.
I started feeling like a vampire.
Now when you’re in the restaurant industry, it feels semi-normal. Most of your friends are also in that same routine so there isn’t much reason to change. I tried to tell myself many times that we were just on “West Coast time” because we could usually catch our friends in San Francisco as we were getting out of work and they were getting ready for bed.
Now that we really ARE on West Coast time, its even worse. If I don’t get up until noon on a morning after closing down the bar late, its already 3PM back home. I’ve almost missed an entire day! So much could have happened in the world that I just slept right through. I often think about some crazy major event happening that the East Coast finds out about right when they wake up and then people have to wait to tell me until three that afternoon. Torture!! Being a vampire on the West Coast makes you DOUBLE behind!
Thankfully, things have changed a lot recently. For a while I had the closest thing to a 9-5 job that I would let happen, and it was kind of strange. My love of grocery shopping was quickly eliminated by the insane amount of people who all did their shopping on Saturday mornings. I never went to the mall because on the weekends you have to park SO far away and the racks are just a freaking mess. And I was on the exact opposite schedule from a lot of my friends and, worst of all, of Brad. I never saw anyone unless I went to their restaurant to eat.
That obviously wasn’t the only reason I left the job, but now I’m back to my night-crawling, drink slinging ways. Except I make myself get up at a reasonable hour (for a bartender, I think 10 is a very reasonable hour) and see a good amount of sunlight before heading into the dark bar.
Because even vampires in California have to be tan and blonde. Duh.