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Living on the shift fringes: Life after 50 tells a tale

I spent 20 year in the print media for a local daily, some as a reporter, but mostly other positions.

I worked all kinds of hours, but the fringes, the odd shifts, were 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. as night rewrite, 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on the copy desk, but the really fringe shift was my 4:30 p.m. to midnight shift as the evening operator. Night operator

Mostly I would get calls from reporters or people who wanted to tell stories to reporters, and then sometimes I would get collect calls from the county prison. We would never accept the calls.

I often thought that if the world ended at midnight, I would be the man.

The most rewarding call came from the news desk, who wanted me to go to one of the local casinos to check out a tip that the superstar NBA basketball player, Michael Jordan, was out gambling on an off night from the NBA playoffs that his Chicago Bulls were playing, probably against the New York Knicks.

I went to said casino and found a security guard who said that he had seen Jordan at the casino.

He said he would be OK if I told the story, but I think he did not want to give his name.

The paper ran the brief, but the cool thing was that New York Newsday picked up the story with my byline.

As my salary rose and so did my age, at 50, the newspaper found a way to work me out of a job.

The print media, in large, was fading fast as the primary medium to which people got their news.

There was a growing Internet population, not to mention cell phones and other social media.

The Atlantic City casinos were not hiring for public relations jobs, so it was time to make a change.

I had cooked at a take-out seafood restaurant during high school, I thought I would make a go at cooking.

I had cooked in high school and went to a five-month culinary program on the state’s dime.

After the class ended in July, 2009, I got a summer job at a local casino.

The hours were fine, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or occasionally 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

As I said, it was a summer position and ended the day before Labor Day, 2009.

I bounced around at a few jobs, and finally landed at the grill of a local airport.

I worked a few different schedules, with good days and bad, when I was finally moved to the 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. shift. Line cook

The fringes.

The morning fringes.

You say 4:30 a.m. is not that bad?

You get up at 2:40 a.m. every morning.

OK, for the first year of the shift, I was the secondary person, preparing the bread for the morning breakfast sandwiches and platters.

It seems the younger guys were faster than me, but in my career tenure on the shift: one guy feel asleep in his car, woken by state police and got into work past 6 a.m., when the morning rush started when we opened the doors at 5 a.m. and most recently, two young guys quit on the same day.

No call, no show.

So much for the young superstar cooks.

So, for now, mostly from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., I am the lone cook on the line. Me and the cashier.

I make the breakfast sandwiches for the restaurant and the platters for the bar.

The rush is from 5 a.m. to 6:40 a.m., when we have to get two or three flights out.

It is me.

I make the big salad, George Costanza.

And to help prep the sandwiches that we keep in a warmer, I get in at 4:15 a.m. to turn on the fryers and start making the bagel and muffin sandwiches.

Whew.

As the late cooks say, some who start at 8 a.m., others 10 a.m., some noon or 2 p.m., at least I know I am getting out in the early afternoon. They usually stay until close and could get a late delay and be there until 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m.

The late fringes.

So if Michael Jordan is every taking a flight out of our airport at 6 a.m., I am the one making his breakfast sandwich.

Life on the fringes, first late, now early.

It is still a job.

 

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