The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Night Shift

The ever losing battle between school, work and life.
design by Kennedy Woolf

The clock is five minutes away from 4 p.m. I walk through the lobby of the restaurant. The smell of oil and fries fills my nose as I get closer to the kitchen — it’s a smell I’m all too familiar with. 

I’m inches away from entering the kitchen. I lay my hand on the door, ready to push it open, but I take a second to gather myself. 

I’m tired, after all. I’m only working off four hours of sleep. Last night I got too caught up doing my homework, and maybe today I’ll do the same.

This is the life of someone who doesn’t know when to say enough.

My eyes are heavy, my muscles are numb, and my legs feel weak. I want to lay down and take a nap, but I can’t. I have a duty to do. 

I push the door open. 

The walk to clock in is quiet, I’m too tired to wave or even greet anyone, all I wanna do is clock in and out, easy as that. I know that I’m gonna have problems — no one likes a silent shell here. I’m the first one to arrive 

Orders have come in and out throughout the night. Some customers are too busy to even look at the menu and force us to read everything to them. Some want to buy half the menu and are surprised when it costs over 30 bucks.

The clock approaches 7 p.m. and I’m just finishing my job. Today I’m coordinating, meaning I’m the one you can blame for half your fries being at the bottom of the bag.

I grab the fries and the burger and gently place them inside a bag before handing them to the windowman Joe, the boss’ son. He treats me like a brother sometimes, but sadly no one at the window is gonna get that same treatment. He’s silent and cold to them, only wanting them to get in and out as quickly as possible.

My phone vibrates inside my pocket.

It’s my friends, they want to play a game. Warzone, Apex, Fortnite, it doesn’t matter, I can’t play. I wish I could but I can’t.

The amount of times I’ve said no to them, told them another day or another time are too many to count.

So once again I tell them I can’t, and turn off my phone before they even have time to respond. I have to get back to work.

Maybe it’s because I was raised to see life like a machine. A machine that never stops working, because if it does everything falls apart. Without work, you get no money, which means you can’t buy anything, which means you can’t survive, I know this won’t happen to me. 

I turned on the machine, and I can’t turn it off. Somewhere deep down, I don’t want to turn it off.

Hours have passed, and the clock is showing 10 p.m. It’s time to close the lobby. I grab the lobby keys from the office before taking them to the doors, locking them one by one as I walk. It’s time for me and Joe to work the next two hours all by ourselves as we slowly close the Wendy’s. 

As I close the final door I take a minute to breathe, a minute to myself where I can gather my thoughts and get a peace without people, without work, without school.
It’s like being in the middle of a calm sea. 

Suddenly the sea is thrusted into a frenzy, waves that push and pull me underneath, all with a sudden beep that rings throughout my headset, alerting me that there’s a car at the machine outside. 

It has been 32 minutes after closing, and I am just finishing the trash. As I walk out of the gray door in the back the cold air hits me like a cannonball. 

I close the door and walk back to the kitchen, 

Joe has finished his task and I have finished mine. We look at each other. Without saying a word we both walk over to a computer and clock out.

I look at my receipt, 43 hours this week, in a sad way I’m proud of myself.

“I’m over by three,” I tell him.

“I’m over by five.”  

We share a laugh before reality hits a little too hard.

As we open the door and walk into the night, we both look up at the sky for the first time.

Joe sighs and looks over at me.

“Keep it up kid, make that money. See ya tomorrow kid.

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