The Graveyard Shift Diaries #1

The graveyard. No, not the kind full of our beloved deceased. This graveyard will eat at your soul and try its hardest to make you lose faith in humanity. It will make you question right and wrong. It will change you in ways you never thought possible. It will coerce you to do things that would make your mother shocked and ashamed. It also pays the bills and provides a 401k. It is a gas station that sucked the nineteen year old version of myself into its graveyard shift. When I took this job life altering was the last thing I expected. Actually the only thing I expected was to quickly find another job because this was simply beneath me. Eight years. That’s how long it took for me to escape. That’s how long I observed how much more screwy and comical the world is in the dark. That’s how long it took me to grow up and put on my big girl panties.

I was a gas station vampire or service station cashier as my boss would say. Only to make himself feel better about his life choices. He quickly corrected anyone who uttered the words “gas station.” He would verbally bitch slap his unsuspecting victim. “No! We are not a gas station! We are a fully functioning service station!” Dude, calm the hell down. We mostly provided gas, chap stick and snacks. I don’t think anyone felt fully serviced when they left the premises. My boss was the type of guy who tried to portray to the world that he was tough shit. But he wasn’t fooling anyone. He was a bitter man full of regret that took it out on his employees. Luckily I only saw him a handful of times because my shift was a solo gig. Besides, I think he just needed to get laid. He did try and hump a friend of mine but I’ll elaborate more on that later.

During my time at the station I encountered very unique and quirky individuals. As a matter of fact it was a unique and quirky individual that got me into this mess. When approached by a friend and former boss about her mother’s workplace looking to fill a graveyard position amidst laughter I said, “Nooo, thanks!” I was stunned she would even suggest such a thing. She was a bit of an oddball but ME, at a gas station, graveyard at that, puh-lease! However, a few days lost in financial thought later I felt it best to reconsider. It’s not like I’d let myself stay there very long and I definitely needed some cash flow. My bank account had become quite a wasteland and all I had left to deposit were dying hopes and dreams. Unfortunately hopes and dreams do not help pay for financial responsibilities such as the livelihood of my parents. My last thought before I heard the words “you’re hired” was how bad could it be? When your going on twenty you know your world is full of possibilities. But you’re also naive. Painfully naive.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t get in your own way.” Well, at the time I hadn’t heard of it. Because Oprah hadn’t uttered the phrase yet. I was a deer in headlights. I was stuck and couldn’t fully grasp the concept of rational, productive decisions, especially when it came to planning for my future.

By the time a few years had passed I was convinced an unseen force must live in the crackhead hours, whose mission it is to make sure once someone enters the graveyard realm it wouldn’t be an easy task getting out. Realistic reasons why I didn’t seem to be going anywhere: My close relationship with Nora. (mother of friend responsible for this wretched/inspiring experience) or a general fear of the world and the people in it. Most females would be fearful to stay at a gas station by themselves during the hours of 10p.m. to 6a.m. in a neighborhood with a high crime rate. Of all the fears I had that was never one of them. This graveyard past is about experiences, people and my eye witness accounts of some crazy WTF stuff, which could only manifest in the confines of a graveyard universe.

In March of 1998 a decision to take on the night set into motion a ride that I don’t remember buying a ticket for. Book smarts did not prepare me for real life. And real life was about to come in the form of a late night general public who consisted of: crackheads, drug dealers, prostitutes, gang members, douchebags, a-holes, and other various beings who belonged in an asylum. Some job duties I was informed about: stock shelves, mop, throw away garbage, etc. Unofficial surprise (not like a birthday surprise, like bird droppings in your hair, dripping down your face surprise) duties: clean unholy piles of feces off the asphalt, clean pools of vomit left by drunk fucktards outside at 3am, and to be verbally raped with a smile on my face.

With that said, I have no regrets about my time there. I firmly believe, I needed that place. That crappy low wage job, taught me who I was. College could not have given me the tools I needed to survive in this world. Now let me be very clear, I wholeheartedly do not recommend this route for another living soul to “find themselves.” My experience was a series of lessons which taught me how to stand up for myself, among other things. Main lesson: never become life’s bitch.
In the beginning, I worked five nights. After a few years, my father lost his job, so I convinced my King of Douche boss to let me work six. Two out of eight years were spent working what I called, “the walking dead” schedule. The station became my entire world. Then, like every responsible, hard working girl, I found myself pregnant by someone I didn’t like (a new employee of course, I didn’t go anywhere else) but that’s another story. After having the baby my schedule changed back to five nights, until the end. Half of the time shifts were mind numbing and tedious. So much so, I found myself captivated by infomercials on my small black and white TV. Or prayed for police to pull someone over in my view who was a hot legal mess. Much more entertaining then a, “Do you have atrocious credit history!? No problem!” infomercial. The other half felt like I was being mentally, and emotionally stoned to death…with boulders.
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