Working at Denny’s during graveyard shift means that you sleep from 8:00 am to 4:00pm, if you’re lucky. Sleeping becomes a desperately craved yet torturously elusive concept.

You pull down the shades. You close the door. You even try one of those weird sleeping masks. You isolate yourself in every way possible.

Then the world makes itself known to you.

Do you know how many lawns are loudly mowed daily, even on weekdays? Do you know how many children scream happily in play? Do you know how many street construction repairs go on outside your window while you’re trying desperately to sleep? I am not making this up–I’m talking jackhammers not thirty feet from me going on for hours.

And then the phone. You could take it off the hook, but what if it’s an emergency, or work needs to call you? Eventually you do take it off the hook, but not before sanity has lost it grip on you. I used to answer the phone in my sleep and agree to work shifts without a single conscious thought. I would vaguely remember the call when I woke up, and I’d have to call in to work to see if I’d really talked to someone and what I’d agreed to.

I learned at Denny’s that human beings aren’t meant to work graveyard shift. I don’t think anyone at work in the present knows how much I savor each and every day–how truly precious it is to work a weekday job with weekends off. I came away from Denny’s firmly believing that businesses should be closed late at night–it’s just not a fit life for anyone. This is a hard thing to say, especially for me, but just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should.