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    Summer break is the perfect opportunity to get back into reading. Adam Silvera’s (2017) novel, They Both Die at the End, can serve as a stepping stone into the realm of reading. The pace is fast, action-packed, and develops loveable characters. Also, Silvera switches point of view each chapter where narration mainly focuses on the protagonists, […]
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    If there’s one book that I believe everyone should read once in their life, it’s my favorite book – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. From my course, Queer Literature under Dr. Bill Albertini, I discovered Emezi’s Freshwater (2018). Once more, my course, Creative Writing Thesis Workshop under Professor Amorak Huey, was instructed to present our favorite […]

Late night gatekeepers work dusk to dawn

For the 98 percent of people who don’t work third shift, the wee hours of the morning will remain a mystery. But for Officer Erin Keaton and her coworkers at the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center, third shift – from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – winds up when the rest of the work force winds down. Even the incarcerated are asleep. And the staff of the JDC graveyard shift intends to keep it that way. As they walk through the halls, they listen for noise and peep through the windows to the cells every 15 minutes. Between the walkthroughs, they do the day’s laundry or prep for the morning shift, mostly in near silence. According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, 3 to 4 million Americans work the graveyard shift. Sometimes, this can mean a struggle with the body’s internal clock, wishing it could hit the snooze instead of punch in a time card. ‘I’ll bring a cup of coffee in, or sometimes I’ll drink a pot while I’m there, but I try not to get too caffeinated,’ she said. Luckily, Keaton doesn’t have to do this every day. She’s what she calls a ‘part-timer’ and picks up shifts when she can or when others don’t want them. Usually third shift. Dara Ford, also an officer at the JDC, admitted that the switched schedule takes a little while to get used to. ‘The first couple times it was really hard. Between 2 and 2:30 a.m. I would get sleepy, but I was fine if I took a nap beforehand,’ she said. Which is good for now. Both are still in their 20s, and Keaton schedules her classes at the University for late afternoons. Even on the days she does work nights, she aims her wake up time around 1 or 2 p.m. But even waking up a few hours after lunch can be difficult, even though the sun is still out. ‘Places are closed when you get off, and that always kind of sucks, but by the time you wake up, it’s a rush to get to places like the bank, or anything that closes at five,’ she said. Unlike other night jobs, Keaton is paid the same whether she works noon or midnight, but is unsure about what the ‘full-timers’ are paid during those hours. And midnights ‘can be a little spooky sometimes’ in jail, according to Keaton. ‘I mean, it’s a jail. There are lights on in all of the wings and you’re locked inside of it, so you know that no one’s going to come in. There are cameras everywhere,’ she said. Ford doesn’t like to go into any unlit areas if she doesn’t have to. ‘I don’t like to do that. It’s dark and it’s two in the morning,’ she said. And most of the time, it’s not necessary. Quick bits of gossip are the norm from one person to another. Badge gab. In front of the kids, they are to address each other as ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’, but at night they catch up on boyfriends that have fallen by the wayside or how it is that the beef noodle soup gets so creamy. Ford said that third shift never really bothered her. ‘I didn’t have anything else to do where it was changing my schedule,’ she said. Working late can be peace and quiet, if you can get it.

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