Working the night shift can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that I am a night person, much happier to be awake when the rest of the world is dozing. I can do my grocery shopping in peace at 3:30 am on my days off, and I am much more productive when I work at night as opposed to when I am expected to be waltzing in the door to Company X at 8:00 am. The second part of the blessing (as if it wasn't good enough) is that I work 12 hour shifts, which give me either a 3 or 4 day weekend, every week. So where's the curse, you ask?

My room mates are not night people. They are all college students. I am courteous of their collective schedule and try not to make noise at 3:00 am. They are as courteous as they can be of my schedule, but there are some things I can never avoid. I fall blissfully into my featherbed every morning at 7:00 am, only to be awakened every morning by the following occurrences:

  • 8:05 am - Ben's alarm clock goes off. Shrill zapping noises.
  • 8:15 am - Ben's alarm takes itself off snooze mode. 97.9 KUPD blares out some awful Metallica song. Thankfully, it is usually only stuck in my head for the next 10 minutes while I fall back asleep. (Ben is merciful and never lets more than 6 notes exit the radio)
  • 10:00 am - Tony wakes up, starts grinding coffee beans. Sounds like a chainsaw. Reminds me of the midwest. Smiling, I fall back asleep.
  • 11:17 am - Andi starts making calls to Germany. It is a surreal dream, I have never taken a German class, yet I understand perfectly: I hate the toaster! Leave the roto drain and come to Rocky Point! I am the uberpencil!
  • 1:42 pm - Jill from Providian would like to know if I need additional health insurance. I tell her I have to keep holding the spoon, and hang up.

These are my night time traffic noises and train whistles. If I don't hear them, I tend to wake up anyway, wondering what's wrong. The real interruption is the dog next door. As soon as the three teenage girls leave for school, and the house is empty, the dog goes berserk. Barking, yipping, whining, howling. I will angrily get out of bed and cross my room to the window, and proceed to open the window to yell at the dog. As soon as my hand touches the handle to crank it open, the dog quiets. I seethe and stalk back to my bed. I am almost asleep... BARK! BARK! BARK! whine, BARK! Repeat cycle for approximately 3 hours. After about 3 weeks of this (I am extraordinarily patient, or lazy, take your pick), I call the Tempe police department to ask about noise ordinances. They tell me that the dog must bark for five minutes straight in order for them to do anything about it. As a matter of fact, the dog must be barking when they arrive on scene to write a violation. I consider making a tape recorded loop of the dog barking to play until the cops get here. That neighbor really ought to take care of her animals, that would teach her, I think.

Another week or so passed with the dog making me irritable, and then summer arrived. The dog ceased its incessant barking, and I slept in airconditioned comfort, with only the room mates' noise to just barely lull me out of sleep. Summer went, the girls are back in school, and the dog has been calm.

This morning I came home at 6:30 in the morning to find a medium sized smiling dog on my lawn. I opened my car door and smiled back. The dog came trotting over and I told it how cute it was and made assorted noises at it. It was the perfect morning smiling dog, a mutt with brown, black, and white patches, spots, stripes, and floppy ears. Its collar was new, bright blue, and had a bone shaped tag on it that read "Sparky." I called the phone number on the tag, and a female voice answered. "I uhh, I have your dog," I told it. She asked me where I was and I gave her my address. She said she lived on the same street, and she would come out of her house to find me.

I stood there, petting the dog and loving it to death. I would love this dog to pieces if it were mine. I entertained the fantasy of owning a smiling medium dog, and then I saw one of the teenage girls from next door approaching. The dog perked up - I didn't think its doggy grin could get any brighter or wider, but it did. The girl called the dog over. "Sparkles, what are you doing?" The dog wagged its tail and she hugged it and led it back inside.

I don't think that the dog barking will bother me anymore.

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