Fear Of The Dark: On the consequences of working late

I’ve been working a lot of overtime lately. In the area of 1-3 hours a day.. Which, admittedly, sound like a lot more than it actually is considering that I’m only supposed to be working four hours a day, so really I’m only really working upwards of a normal full-time position hour wise.

But, really, add the fact that my usual hours are 9 PM – 1 AM, and that sleeping in is getting exceedingly difficult as the world around me is, for some reason, still running on normal time.. Well, you’ll probably understand why the extra hours are starting to take a bit of a toll on me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining too much. I chose to do these extra hours myself; partially to show good spirits, partially to make some extra money for a grand plan I’ve got brewing, and partially because I really don’t want to spend my time walking home from work in snow, sleep, ice, freezing rain and a wind chill factor of -25C. That’s right, I’ve gotten old enough that I’d rather spend my time working and waiting for a ride rather than fight my way through the worst winter weather in 23 years for the sake of making it home 25 minutes earlier.. It’s not very like my usual do or die attitude, I’ll give you that, but it sure is more comfortable.

Now, where was I? Right.. Working late.. Working late poses some interesting challenges. First and foremost, you (if you’re me) will have to deal with getting a maximum of six hours of sleep per night, you gotta be able to put up with not being home before 3-4 in the AM, you’ve got to find enough tasks to justify spending the extra time at work.. And you gotta be able to deal with the consequences of working late and not getting enough sleep.

Dealing with all these things at once can be a little complicated especially if, like me, you’re a little complicated yourself, but I make do.. Somehow! You see, like I’ve mentioned before, I do really stupid shit when I’m tired, and I’m tired a lot lately, and I have to find things to do at work.. So what better things to do than to do really stupid shit at work? Huh? No?

Well, okay, it’s not like I do inherently stupid things at work.. As with most other things in life, I mean well, I just usually end up either screwing up or getting in way over my head. Like, take a couple of nights ago when after noticing a decrease in my normal tasks, I thought I’d do everybody a favor and take a stroll on down to the archives and have a stab at updating the, ahem, pretty random filing system we’d been using lately for filing our export documents.

Long story short, we file at least one binder full of export documents, receipts and what have you per night. We’ve got a shelf in the office holding the most recent binders and every night as we add a new one, we’ll take the old one for permanent storage in the archives. Some time ago, we ran out of shelf space in the archives and while we’re waiting for some papers to get relocated, Torben and I have employed the ever so popular “stack everything as neatly as possible in the back corner and hope nothing bad happens” filing principle – which served us well for a few weeks but is now getting a little out of hand. Consequently, I decided to spent some time one evening.. night.. morning.. whatever.. to see if I couldn’t relocate things a little and create some temporary sense of order until we got a proper system in place. A noble though, which of course spawned chaos and confusion. But how was I to know as I entered the archives at 3 AM on that fateful Friday morning?

The archive is a pretty God-forsaken place, a large, rectangular, windowless, brick walled room with an intricate maze of shelves and only a motion sensor-activated line of fluorescent light tubes to keep you company. Nevertheless, I set off on my quest, humming to myself as I walked to through the maze of shelves to the very back corner of the room to inspect the pile of mess we’d created and try to make some sort of system out of it. After some pondering and scratching of the head, I located some free shelf space and set about creating a temporary home for our export documents. I spent some 2o minutes sorting the binders by date and lifting them onto their proper place on the new-found shelf.. Then I heard a loud clicking noise and everything around me went black.. Pitch black!

What followed were quite a few minutes of utter confusion until I realized that the whole concept of motion sensor-activated lights is that they turn off if there’s no motion sensed for a while. I gathered I must’ve moved outside the reach of the motion sensor and as such would just have to roam around a little to be rewarded with a light to shine my way. After a couple of minutes of pretty loud roaming about and bumping into things in search of light, I came to a pretty sad realization: The only motion sensor I’d ever spotted in the archive room was located right at the door, a door that was now some 40 meters away, in a straight line, not to mention the distance that would have to be traversed through the maze of shelves, boxes, old fax machines and other interesting stuff .. Oh bother!

My first reaction to this fact was one of pure resignation as I just sat down on the floor, waiting for a few minutes to see if my eyes would adjust all while sending friendly little thoughts to those dear female friends of mine who happen to be afraid of the dark. It eventually dawned on me that the room was too fucking dark for my eyes ever to adjust, and my next reaction became a soft cry of “Umm.. Torben?? Heelp??” which also turned out fruitless. Plan C was to reach into my pocket for my cell phone and call for help, only to realize that my pocket was empty and that my cell phone was still laying on my desk.. Oh bother x 2!

Eventually, I went with the only possible solution to the predicament I was in, fighting my way out by relying on my sense of touch and a sincere prayer that for once in my life, I wouldn’t be my own clumsy self and suffer some kind of horrible injury in the process. Amazingly, and after only about fifteen minutes, I actually made it to the archive door without hurting myself or breaking anything along the way. When I did, I was rewarded with another loud clicking noise and an almost painful explosion of light which stabbed right into my blinded eyes in a very, very uncomfortable way and left me about as blinded as before, only now in a whiteout kinda way. “GAH!,” I yelled as I fumbled for the door handle, caught it and tore the door open, slipping on the doorstep as I did and crashing blinded and confused into the main office space with a very manly cry of “AAAH!”

This, of course, led to quite a few laughs from my colleague Torben who demanded to know what on earth I was doing and then nearly fell to the floor in a laughing fit when I relayed the rest of the story behind my suddenly thrashing about the office like a blinded mole.. What can I say? I live to entertain.. And I get things done, even if getting things done involve stumbling around blinded for twenty minutes before returning, cell phone in hand and emergency exit open to shine a little extra light on things, to finish the job..

So, there you go.. That’s one way to make a little extra money on a Friday morning. It’s not one I really recommend.. And it’s not one, might I add, that’s gonna earn you a lot of sympathy from your go to source for comfort and compassion.. Tina, when faced with the account of my hardships, had but two reactions: One was to laugh her ass off on my behalf, the other was a simple statement of “Sweety, this is what you get for laughing at a blind girl using the expression ‘see you later’, karma’s a bitch, isn’t it?” – bah, I think she might be right.. Again.

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