Recently a client was being considered for a morning show. This person had never worked the morning show and asked what it was like.
So, for those of you who have never worked the vampire shift and might run into this situation, I thought I'd give you a taste of what life is like as a nocturnal creature.
Being a night person, I always dreaded filling in on the morning show. At one point in my career we were shorthanded, and I had to do it for two months. After that I vowed I would never, ever consider a job as a morning anchor or reporter. (By the way, those of you who are offered morning reporter jobs should know that you'll NEVER get to do a good package. You'll just chase the scanner all night and do follow-ups. It may be the worst reporting gig in all of television.)
Anyway, here's a typical week:
-Monday thru Friday: The alarm goes off around two or three in the morning. If you have a significant other, this person gets a rude awakening, mutters something unintelligible, and goes back to sleep.
You stagger off to the bathroom and hope a shower wakes you up. (If you're a guy, you discover that trying to shave with one eye open leaves you looking as though you've gone ten rounds with an angry cat, so you start shaving before you go to bed.)
After getting dressed, you drink coffee and try to decide if you should eat breakfast. You really don't want breakfast, but you think you'd better eat something or you'll run out of gas by the time the newscast starts. (Thus the "morning show weight gain syndrome" begins.)
You chase the raccoons away from your car and head to the station. Oh, if you live in a cold climate, you'll have to either shovel the driveway (you don't dare crank up the snow blower and wake the neighbors), scrape your windshield, or both. What fun!
You notice birds are flying around in the middle of the night. Oh, wait. Those are bats. You wave at them. Professional courtesy.
After arriving at the station you discover your muse doesn't work nights and you try to write intelligent copy as you drink more coffee. Your co-anchor checks your copy and informs you that Reagan is no longer the President and is dead, to boot. If you're a weather person, you try to remember what state you're living in and note that all your weather cam shots are pitch dark. You start to get hungry again... didn't you already have breakfast? Or is there another name for meals eaten at three in the morning?
You notice you have put on two different colored socks, your shoes don't match, or both.
After the newscast you have to deal with those pesky cut-ins for a few hours. Staffers start to drift in, looking refreshed after a good night's sleep.
After cut-ins you're hungry again, so you eat breakfast for the second time. And if you work for one of those stations still crazy enough to run a noon show, you have to prepare another newscast so you drink more coffee.
So maybe you're home by one in the afternoon. You're dog tired, but do you take a nap now? You curse the fact that you don't have dark curtains. And if you take a nap, you might not be able to go to bed by seven and end up staring at the ceiling till eleven and getting three hours sleep. Your option is to fight to stay awake all day. Oh, yeah, it's time to eat again.
Around six your other half arrives home and is ready to eat dinner. This is now your fourth or fifth meal of the day.
Now you have to go to bed at seven. Nice social life, huh? You turn in, but you've still got too much caffeine in your system even though you're exhausted. You toss and turn till nine.
Saturday: You relish the thought of "sleeping in" but your body clock is so screwed up you wake up at five. Your other half mutters something unintelligible and goes back to sleep. Hmmmm. Time for breakfast.
Your other half sleeps in and gets up at 9, wanting to go out to breakfast. What the heck, you eat breakfast again.
If you're a guy you decide to play golf with some friends, as you need sunshine. By the third hole you need a nap and are so out of it you use your putter to tee off.
Then it's Saturday night, so it's time to go out with your other half and friends. You start yawning at seven o'clock and fall asleep in the movie theater during the coming attractions.
Sunday: Ah, now you've got this "sleeping in" stuff down cold. You wake up at a quarter to six! Your other half mutters something unintelligible and goes back to sleep. You eat breakfast for the 14th time this week.
Sunday afternoon you start to feel normal. You enjoy Sunday dinner... or is it lunch?
Late Sunday afternoon fear hits you in the face like a cold bucket of water. You have to fall asleep soon! But your body clock is messed up again! You go to bed at seven. You finally fall asleep by nine and get about five hours of sleep. Except when your other half crawls into bed at ten and wakes you up. You mutter something unintelligible and stare at the ceiling for thirty minutes trying to fall asleep again.
One Month Later: You're now eating 22 breakfasts each week and have a box of Count Chocula stashed under the anchor desk for times you need a sugar rush. As you put on a pair of pants, the button gives way, ricochets off the mirror and hits you in the face. You'll shoot your eye out, kid!
There are those who love morning shows, and more power to them. They always argue that "you can get things done during the day!" (That's right, they think grocery stores are not open after six.) So people on a normal shift might actually have to shop until seven. The horror!
But if you aren't a morning person, think long and hard before even considering a shift like this. Your life will be dominated by the thought of going to sleep. You'll have absolutely no social life. Your friends will stop calling because they don't want to wake you up. You'll age two years in six months.
But you will discover the incredible number of choices in the cereal aisle.