The All Nighter

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I’m sitting here in my big, black, manly poppa chair in my living room, looking over the report page for this podcast. It’s interesting that we call this podcast Goodnight. Because it looks like you mostly download it in the overnight hours. I don’t know when you actually listen, of course, but I’m hoping you also do that at night. I loved being on the air at night. Even all night. Because nights get lonley, and I liked being the guy who showed up when the lonely was getting a little tough and nasty.

It’s hard staying up all night, when the rest of the world is sleeping. You run into a progression of problems. The first day after you’re up all night, you walk around kind of tired and dizzy, your hair is messed up and your pulse rate drops down into the mid teens. After a week, you notice a loss of muscle tone, and you start eating a lot of oysters and chicken soup. After about a month, you start having trouble remembering things like your zip code and your middle name, you start getting bubbles in your think tank, and you begin to look like something that would eat its young. After about 6 months, you begin to have trouble counting backwards from 2, and you begin to grow a third set of teeth…but not in your mouth…on your eyelids…because your mouth has become stuck shut. After about a year, you change blood types and begin speaking in tongues. And that’s why all night disc jockeys look and sound the way we do. It’s kind of a fraternity… people who stay up all night. Actually these days, there’s a large and growing sorority too.

You get to the point where you begin to see things differently. For example, you suddenly realize you think of your dog as your friend, and therefore you shouldn’t have him neutered. After all how many of your other friends have you had neutered ? You begin to understand that there will always be prayer in school as long as there are algebra exams. It dawns on you that just because you sit around all night taking up space, doesn’t mean you’re an astronaut. And you get angry because you know that stupidity got you into this mess, so why can’t it get you out of it ? You write an Email to the president and tell him when we pull out of the desert in those middle East countries, instead of bringing all that equipment home, we should have just had a mirage sale. Then you begin to wonder if ghosts put their cars in a mirage. And that’s when what’s left of your brain pulls the plug, and like it or not you finally fall asleep but you dream that you’re working for a station that plays a song called “Don’t Worry Be Happy” 24 hours a day.

Dick’s Details Quiz. All answers are in the current podcast.

1- Why can’t the smart guys in the white lab coats remember everything they’ve discovered about chocolate ?

2- Why don’t woodpeckers get headaches from all that pecking ?

3- What does Big Louie say guys should do when they spend their days bending iron bars, running triathalons, and tearing phone books in half?

Dick’s Details. They take your mind off your mind.

Sometimes staying awake all night is more dangerous than other times. A lot of it has to do with your all night job. There are pilots who work all night. Some of them fly air liners with two other pilots to help fly the plane, and keep the coffee coming. Some fly small single engine planes alone. Usually they’re transporting checks. That still happens. I don’t know what it’s like to fly an airliner at night. But I’ve spent lots of nights in my small single engine plane. There’s a story about that in the current podcast. It’s from the Personal Audio CD called Love Comes When You Least Expect It. The story is called, Night Flight.

Been there, done that…looking down at the lights of the city. Sometimes you don’t have time for that…like when the weather’s banging you around, and you’ve really got your hands full. But sometimes things are calm, and the autopilot’s on and you have lots of time to think. And your thoughts start tumbling all around in the dark…the dark outside…and sometimes in the darkest part of your heart.

Night Flight is from the Love Comes When You Least Expect It Personal Audio CD. It you like it, you can just keep the current podcast. Or if you want a fresh copy, just download it from the Love Comes When You Least Expect It icon on the home page.

Things can get pretty intense when you’re on the radio all night. You’re on the phone a lot, because the people who are listening to you, lots of times want you to listen to them too. Some of the things people told me in the middle of the night became the stories in the Night Connections albums. But some of those conversations were so private that I could never tell anybody else about them. And I’m pretty sure some of those calls were the last words the callers ever said. I talked three people out of ending their lives through the years, but I’m not sure about two others. My Lady Wonder Wench sometimes called in the middle of the night. She listened to my show on a little night stand radio, with a small light that showed the numbers on the dial. When she called, I swear I could see her soft curves in that same little light. I always tried to make her laugh a little when she called in the middle of the night. Middle of the night lady laughs…like little human fingertips slipping out of the dark…holding on to my hand…so I could make her feel safe.

I always liked being the guy who showed up…when things got tough and nasty…and lonely…in the middle of the night.

4 Responses to “The All Nighter”

  1. Bob Littler says:

    Im a retired firefighter and listened to you on BZ about the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. Speaking of the middle of the night, I cant tell you how many times I came back to the station at 3AM from a medical call where someones child had died of SIDS or some other tragedy had befallen some family like my own. After that time of night there were hours where no phones would ring and no bells would sound. When those tragedies happened, I would lay on my bunk looking at the cieling wishing God had been at that home that night to prevent that happening. But for some reason he always seems to be somewhere else. My Dad died of cancer when I was 35 and the very first night I was back on shift at about 2AM I went to a call where a man had passed away of cancer in his bed at home. I looked down and my Dad lay there again as if I was reliving the pain of the week before. The next day I went out and bought a Walkman so I could do something other than examine the fisure patterns in the dropped ceiling panels when something bad happened. The coup de gras came when the love of my life died at age 46, suddenly and with no warning. I had had enough of the human drama, a few months later I retired from the fire department and sought other things to ease me toward the my dotage. I knew that I missed the positive part of the work that I had engaged in, an there was plenty of positive, lots of good saves, and lots of rescues that had immense meaning in the lives of others. I eased myself into the thoughts that maybe there was another career for me in something that means something, not to be confused with working in politics or retail, and enrolled in nursing school. At the age of 65 years and 5 months I graduated from nursing school and look forward to my new career of positives and negatives, but either way things with meaning.

  2. alias Jean Fox says:

    Congratulations Bob. You’re a hero in my mind all the same. You survived some real life-crashers (not to be taken literally) and came out with a positive attitude. Dick can help do that to people ….. and I’m glad.
    Working all night isn’t the best thing. I was a fire dept. dispatcher for 14 years. The last 5 years I was on midnight to 8 almost exclusively. (My body clock still hasn’t redjusted.) In order to stay awake, I had either the TV or the scanner to listen to …. and you know how dead that can be. Yes – to stay awake I had to move around. I scrubbed the dispatch office floor on my hands and knees many nights until I heard signs of life in the day room at 6 A.M. The city in which I worked was small so it wasn’t hard to count the cars that went by my window. {Boring} Had there been a Nightlight program then, I think it would have been easier to stay awake and stay alert. Thanks for telling your story.

  3. Ruby Songbird says:

    “That’s When the Lonely Comes Along”

  4. Michal Tearson says:

    Dick, as you know i did late nights on WMMR for 22 years 1970-92, then 3 more on WXPN. i LOVED doing nights. the place was otherwise deserted, and there was the feeling i could take things way further than anyone else could. never worried nobody was listening. i knew there were folks there. whether anyone was cvalling in or not. got to really do personal radio with the idea i could be an impressario of the air. which i felt was something you felt doing overnights on WBZ which i listened to clear channel in Baltimore all the time. i still fondly remember Irving II, Superplant, fighting the forces of B.U.G., the Big Ugly Guys (a line i have swiped from time to time and credit when possible). there’s an intimacy doing late night/overnight radio no other time matches. and that feeling is mostly gone from the air now since DJs haven’t picked music since 1984 when Selector took that smoking gun out of our hands. radio has not gotten better because of that. quite the reverse, hasn’t it?