The graveyard shift is the loneliest shift of all. It was lonely, it was eerie, and at two in the morning, a person’s imagination grows wild.
The Graveyard Shift
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In my four years of humble community service in working as a Security Guard for a gated community in Central Florida, it was the graveyard shift that I dreaded the most. The graveyard shift began at midnight and ended at seven in the morning. Time passes slowly during the lonely, still, quiet darkness of night.
For the most part, I would keep the door to my Gatehouse closed and locked. From the big picture widows, that surrounded my desk, I could see when a vehicle was approaching the Gatehouse. It would be one in the morning and I always dreaded seeing the headlights of a vehicle heading for my Gatehouse. I never knew if it was friendly Mrs. MacGruder coming home from a late night at Bingo, or some nut with a gun. I’m serious. You just never knew.
Reading an old issue of Mad magazine, would help make the long night go by faster.
I’m a very intellectual, well-read gentleman. Thus, I would bring along one of my old issues of Mad magazine to read, to keep me awake during the night. Well, I would also sip hot tea throughout the night. I know caffeine is bad for a person. But, hey, it helped to keep me awake when the old clock was slowly ticking toward three in the morning.
Working the graveyard shift, always reminded me of my early years of college. For my first two years of college, I attended a local community college. I took my studies very serious. I would study and do homework till about two in the morning every night. While I was studying, I would listen to my all-time favorite radio personality, Alison Steele on WNEW-FM. It’s funny, sometimes, when I was working the graveyard shift; a part of me wished that I could turn on the radio and once again hear Ms. Steele’s soothing voice.
For over four years, I humbly served as a Gate Guard in a gated community in Central Florida. I took my job very serious.
One night while working the graveyard shift, it must have been about three in the morning, I found myself guessing at what the Mad Fold-In was going to look like. The Mad Fold-Ins were a very popular feature of the old Mad magazines. They were always located on the inside back cover of the magazine. You would fold in dotted line B to fall in line with dotted line A, and woe-la, you would have a totally different drawing with a totally different caption on the bottom.
It’s a funny thing. I remember one night, in that very instant of folding the Mad Fold-In; a precious memory that I shared with my beloved father, came flooding back to me. The precious memory was of the week before Dad went Home to be with the Lord. I went upstairs to my bedroom closet and dug out a stack of my old Mad magazines. I brought them down to Dad’s bedroom. Dad and I began reading the old Mad magazines.
Well, Dad and I had a blast reading the old Mad magazines. And, we particularly had a great time, folding in the Mad Fold-Ins. Of course, we spent a few minutes guessing how the cartoon drawing would change, before we did the fold-in. It was simply a great afternoon that we shared.
We laughed, we kidded around. Dad reminisced about scouts. We talked about our many week-long canoe trips down the Delaware River. We recalled our many hikes on the Appalachian Trail. We talked about good times of attending two National Boy Scout Jamborees together. We just had a wonderful afternoon together.
As I was looking at my Mad Fold-In, in the dim light of my Gatehouse at three in the morning; I found myself starting to cry. I don’t know what it was. I just got to missing my Dad. I just cried and cried and cried, in the loneliness of the stillness of the quiet blackness of night. Folding in, the old Mad Fold-In just hit a certain nerve of sorrow and mourning in my soul.
My dad was such a good man. We always enjoyed each other’s company. Even the simplest thing, like working on the old lawnmower, was fun to do with Dad.
My father was a great man. He saw the good in all people. He took his role as Scoutmaster very serious. Dad served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170 for nearly 30 years. Dad worked hard, very hard. My father worked as a long-distance truck driver from the time he got home from World War II till he retired in 1987. Dad was a deeply religious man. He studied theology at Drew University and became a fully recognized Lay Leader of the United Methodist Church. Dad was such a good man.
Dad was a hard-working man, but he had a very big fun-loving side.
Lately, I’ve been feeling the presence of my Dad’s spirit gently touching my heart. I can hear Dad’s gentle whisper calling me to find purpose. Calling me to get back to do more in the serious work of writing. I sense my beloved father calling me to find greater purpose in my writing. I can hear my Dad telling me to never give up in my quest to get my book published. I can feel my father’s heart-filled love. I know it’s real.