When you drive, the average shift is 12 hours. These make for long days and sleep becomes your most precious commodity. If you do not get enough sleep between shifts, it becomes dangerous. You can make mistakes or drink more coffee than is sane to keep going.
In the overnight hours end and daylight comes, parental responsibilities and other things will cause you to do things during the day. So when the head hits the pillow, it is night night time.
Except for me it was hard. Racing thoughts in my mind of events that are stressing me out. Bill collectors. Projects. Barking dogs. Ringing phones. Stress about not sleeping making sleep ever elusive. I hit a rut and I was always tired. I was always tired and there seemed to be no end in sight.
I have to be a parent. That is never an issue or a complaint for me. But the other demands. Family, friends and others. I did my best to push back and they just did not get it.
I went online to learn to practice better sleep hygiene. I changed the way my room was arranged to minimize distractions. I tried aromatherapy. I tried white noise. I tried meditation. I tried music.
Then came the fateful night. I was on my way to pick up a fare and I heard tires squeal and horns honk. I found myself in the middle of an intersection starting to make a left turn without right of way. The surge of adrenaline kicked in and I stopped it fast and let oncoming traffic have right of way. It was closer than I care to admit and I cannot tell you wehre my head was or even if I was awake or daydreaming. No clue. I nodded at the well deserved middle finger I just received.
I am a very safe and very defensive driver when I am in the taxi. I took the defensive driving course the company had me take seriously. I was proud to have never wrecked or had a customer complain. Dispatch had never gone on the radio to tell me to slow down because the GPS busted me screwing around.
I got on the radio.
"22 to dispatch."
"22, go," said the voice on the radio.
"I'm tired and making mistakes. I either need to go home or park and nap for a bit after this fare."
I know this was the first time I ever asked for this on the radio. A moment later I heard the reply.
"22. We don't have a lot on the board for the rest of the night. You can gas up after this fare."
"10-4. Thank you."
I finished the fare. It was a regular. I gassed it up and went to base. I looked at the dispatcher and earnestly said. "Thank you Mari."
"No problem, Pat. Go get some sleep."
I drove home with the windows down to stay awake. I got home and trudged up the stairs, brushed my teeth, flossed and went to bed. I thought I would fall out right away. Nope. Now the brain was working. It decided to yell at me.
'You could have hurt someone!'
'Do you know how much money leaving early cost you?'
'Did you pay that bill? You should check.'
'Bet there is something interesting on facebook.'
I have been home almost an hour and I am staring at the ceiling telling my brain to shut up and it wont!
I grabbed my tablet and went to the search engine. I typed in the first thing that came to mind, I was desperate.
'Podcast to sleep to'
The first thing that came up was "Sleep With Me Podcast. The Podcast That Puts You to Sleep"
I did not read anything else. I clicked the link. Hit latest episode. It was called trending twitter tuesdays. There was a picture of a cat on my screen as I closed the cover and turned up the speakers. The cat looked relaxing. Next thing I know there is mellow intro music and some guy named Scooter introducing himself and asking if you are having trouble sleeping and he hopes this is a solution for you. He is telling me that it is like a bed time story and at first I will be interested and it will get progressively boring and random and the brain will hopefully shut up and go to sleep....or something like that. I was expecting some weird ass guided meditation thing. No. He just started thanking fans and talking about the Lord and the Lady of the podcast and some other regular characters. It was not long after that that I was already out from the delightful random of it all.
I woke up later on that day feeling relaxed for the first time since I could remember.
I showered. Picked up the kiddo from school. Spent a little time being a dad and then went to work. I was energized and in a zone I had not been in a long time. I was grabbing fares and clearing them like a man on a mission. I also got two juicy flags out of one of the casinos. I was back.
I went home at the end of a 12 hour shift. Birds were starting to sing and pre dawn was upon us. I has a small snack. Watched the news. Brushed my teeth, flossed, and then took my tablet out of my bag and put it by my bedside. I pulled up an older episode and it was a weekly review of a Game of Thrones podcast. I have never seen the show. Will I be lost? Will I be awake not knowing who the players are?
I got through the introduction and what Scooter calls housekeeping as he thanked listeners for reviews and accolades and interactions. Then he started into the episode in the most unique and boring manner possible. I was out within 20 minutes.
This would happen night after night. This mad genius would do three episodes a week and a new napcast would start shortly after that. I also had almost a hundred old episodes to work with too.
In the intros I got to enter his world and sleep community. There were so many of us grateful for his work and he seems genuinely appreciative of the sleep. I learned about his brother and his brother's collection of bus and train tickets. Some fans of the show even send Scooter little things like that in the mail.
Now, I listen to podcasts a lot. I am also a fan of Prairie Home Companion on the radio too. Some enrich me, inform me, entertain me. This one gives me rest night after night. I have even hit the point where some nights I do not need Scooter, but I like checking in anyway to to hear the intro before I pass out.
I want to know how he is, how his brothers is, how his mom is, how the Lord and the Lady are doing with the food truck.
Even on days I know that sleep will only be 4 hours because of a busy day, I get 4 quality hours.
I do not know why people do the things they do. There is no money in a Sleep Pod Cast! But he invests time writing and talking to us. I decided to give him a review on iTunes and thank him on social media and say hi once in awhile. He is gracious and appreciative and a few times, during the housecleaning, I hear my name. It adds a little smile as I sleep.
Some of his regulars have roles. I shamelessly admit that I would love to be the chauffer driving people into dreamland.
But that role is already taken by Scooter. He's damn good at it.
From Bezos adventures in hell (seeking revenge I think), to reviews of a show I do not watch. to the ongoing saga of Cinderella after the ball and even Sir Pounce and whatever is on twitter or reddit, his randomness ushers me to sleep.
For some it is a convenience matter. For others, it allows me to be rested and get home safe every morning. For me, it allows my passengers to get a safe and efficient ride. For me, a teenager that is my life gets me at my best instead of half aware.
It's a little thing from someone I never met.
So this entry is a shameless plug.
If you have trouble sleeping...go to http://www.sleepwithmepodcast.com/ or pull up Sleep With Me on iTunes.
Scooter, if you read this, I owe your brother a Metra train ticket form Joliet's Union station and when that blasted book gets published, I will sent a SASE with a signed book. Thank you.
Beyond the plug, I did want to tell about the challenge of sleep and 12 hours shifts 5-6 nights a week. It is the life of pretty much every damn cabbie you meet. Sleep matters.