All right, gainful may be overstating things a bit, but employment is pretty accurate. I got a job stocking shelves and, in exchange, I get a paycheck. Woohoo.

These aren’t just any shelves, mind you. No, no. These shelves are — get this — in freezers. Do you believe that? Freezers! The great big kind, the kind that are taller and wider and many degrees colder than I am. Or Alaska is. The kind you have to shove your arms into up to your shoulders. The kind you’d expect to find yourself in if you’re cryogenically frozen. Those freezers.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). My new career is also a seasonal, part-time gig where I work the graveyard shift from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the deadest of the dead of night.

You do not, and cannot possibly, know cold and bleak until you’re scraping a windshield with your library card at 3:30 in the morning. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is, it’s only November. Imagine January, when the snow’s flying and the wind’s blowing and I’m crying frozen tears. Well, you go on and imagine away; as for me, I’d rather be surprised.

Even now, my breath appears as frosty, diaphanous apparitions in the darkness and the world is so still, so silent, even the desolate night sounds have quieted. There’s no mournful train whistle, no distant dog barking, just a silence so deep and so profound I hear my own furtive footsteps.

My commute takes me past house after sleeping house, windows dark, and I think of the warm souls safe inside, so snug in their beds. How dare they, I mutter. Just who do they think they are with their sweet dreams? Why should they get to sleep? The short answer is, they shouldn’t, so I blow my horn as I speed past. Ha, take that, you snooze hounds.

Wish me luck.

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