Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not So Sleepless In London

Although I knew all along the day isn't far away when it'll be my turn for the dreadful night shift, no length of time can be long enough to prepare for it. The week finally arrived when I am to do night shifts here in London in order to support our teams in Sydney(lets leave the discussion on the rationale behind supporting Sydney from London for a later time). So its 9PM TO 6AM. Right from the word GO the experience is weird.

After waving 'goodnight' to my husband who dropped me to the station so we get to spend ten more minutes together, the wide open ticket barricades were the first sign that it is indeed too late in the day, atleast for the ticket checkers. Well, the good thing is it saved me the effort of having to dig deep into my bag for my train pass. With the trains fewer and the carriages emptier, I was subconsciously getting drawn into a stupor already, or was it just the slow pace of things in general. The large cup of coffee I picked up on the way was of little help except keeping me preoccupied with the bloated stomach it caused all night.

With the best part of my commute on trains, I couldn't help noticing the fact that everything on the opposite side was crowded..the escalators, the platforms and the trains. It was so unusual a sight that I actually clicked a picture of the empty escalator with my phone in a vain attempt to capture the feeling more than the scene. I suspect I fleetingly decided then that being part of the rat race, being on the crowded side of the platform isn't such a bad thing afterall. something seemed fundamentally wrong with the direction of my travel.

Now at the beginning of your work day, what you certainly don't expect is for the 'automatic doors' at the entrance of your office not working automatically, even manually. I stood there looking around for a 'Door jammed.Regret any inconvenience..' board I might have missed. I was then directed to the other side of the building by the lone receptionist from the inside. They kept only one entrance open in the night. I kept looking back at the reception because it looked strange. Just one bored-looking receptionist instead of the 7 feverishly working receptionists in the day time. The stark empty building reception looked uncomfortably huge. I estimated the per capita land at that hour of the day in my office was about 3 floors :)

The walk form the lift to my desk is what I would like to experience every single day.The lights on the entire floor were obviously switched off.But the lights being motion sensing, they kept lighting up as I walked down the aisle. The only thing then missing was the flash lights of the paparazzi :)

My colleague while he was on the night shift last week dozed off for a cat nap. About 15 minutes later, the security woke him up with 'Are you alright sir?' . They said they were instructed to do this to ensure someone isn't genuinely unconscious. I had decided I'd stay awake all night.

There comes a time during the night when you just sit staring at the screen. More specifically at the bottom right corner of the screen where the clock is. Mine ,like most, is in hh:mm format. I wished it was in hh:mm:ss format so I could atleast see the ss part of it moving. Sigh! I don't have administrator rights on the office machine :(

You can't help recalling how at a more usual hour this walk from the desk to the pantry would need you to smile your best smile back to the colleagues you walk past. Although the English politeness ensures your cheeks ache from the prolonged smiling, it was the most desirable thing at the dead of the night.

The isolation that is inevitable in a night shift sure makes one ponderous. However,I am deriving excitement from the fact that I dont need to wait for the weekend or an appoinment for a haircut because 'Madam, we don't expect many customers in the day time on weekdays.Please walk in anytime' :)


sonalika said...

Hope u r not still on night shifts...tho' ur blog surely made it sound kinda interesting ;) tc

KK said...

Every word / sentence i read, i could see it... i could see adi dropping u, you taking that empty train.. arriving at CGC2... and all of that.
awesome piece of writing.
Thank god!! its over.

Ashrut Khatter said...

I'm out of the shift funda finally! The diff. though was that in my case, if I'd gone on normal time, I'd have found the office empty :)

Geetly said...

thanks all for taking the time to read this.

@KK and @Ashrut, this post was obviously illustrative for you, considering you've been to all the places I've described :)

The Guy Next Door said...

You write well - I could imagine myself doing some of it in my earlier career. Keep it coming !!!