Tender is the Night

Those on night duty were entitled to an hour’s break during the ten hour shift, although many preferred to reverse this ratio, cramming the entire workload into two thirty minute sprints (one at the beginning, another at the end) and ‘resting’ for the interim. Some would sleep like the dead for long periods, apparently immune to the surrounding fumes and prehistoric noises, while others would remain in a half-conscious stupor; suspended somewhere between slumber and a hypnotic trance.
The first group could be creative to the point of genius in their construction of suitable sleeping quarters. In scenes reminiscent of the ‘Krypton Factor’, they would expertly transform jumbles of chairs, cushions, sheets and coffee tables into magnificent double beds, rarely seen outside the confines of a lush BBC costume drama. Although wary neophytes might content themselves with rolling out state-of-the-art sleeping bags, or adopting a variety of unlikely yogic positions on the small sofas, the most decadent staff of all would simply commandeer spare bedrooms upstairs, set their alarm clocks, and disappear. If both staff members fell into this ‘sleep’ category, it would seem like a very short shift indeed, but on the down side they might wake up at 0600 hours to discover the unit had been burgled, important telephone calls had been unheard, or the manager on call had been unable to check the unit (oops).
But they never missed the pizza man when he turned up with their supper.
Those who chose instead to stay ‘awake’ in a curious state of suspended animation, would normally sink into a capacious easy chair, put their feet up on a footstool, and cover themselves in three or four hairy blankets like a chrysalis in the corner of a doorframe. They would then remain immobile for the entire night in front of the flickering, inaudible TV set, just occasionally showing signs of life by moving a scaly, telescopic arm towards the cornucopia of food and drink conveniently parked on an adjacent coffee table. Their senses were so finely tuned to signs of unrest upstairs, that they would remain completely unaware of other staff members if they walked into the room.
Almost as if they were asleep too.
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