Meet James and Kevin -- the night shifters in our congregation. When most of us are sleeping or resting, these men are most active at their jobs. We took this opportunity to get to know James and Kevin and about their work, and how working the night shift affects their relationship with God, perspectives, and attitudes. Read on and find out!
James (right): Urban Park Ranger for the City of New York. Stationed at Hudson River Park in downtown Manhattan. Works from 12 AM to 8:30 AM, 5 days a week. Tasks involve patrolling the park (via car, bike, or walking), making sure people exit the park after a certain time, and arresting dangerous people inside the park. What helps him to stay awake? Caffeine!
Kevin (left): Pharmacist at the New York Presbyterian Cornell Medical Center in Upper East Side, Manhattan. Works from 9 PM to 7 AM, 4 days a week. Tasks involve dispensing medicine for hospital patients, making sure there are no issues with doctors’ prescription orders, and rotating through different departments within the hospital. What helps him to stay awake? Sleeping during breaks.
1) What led you to having this night shift job?
James: For a long time, it’s been my goal to pursue a career with the NYC Police Department. You need to take an exam to join the NYPD; however, at the time I was looking for a job in law enforcement, the NYPD did not offer their exams. I ended up taking another exam and became a Park Ranger. Initially it was not my choice to work the night shift; my captain assigned me this night shift. But as time went by I realized that I actually enjoy working the night shift, so now, although I can put in a request to work a different shift, it’s my choice to continue working the night shift.
Kevin: Before my current job I had a per diem position that did not offer much benefits. While in the midst of my quest to find a more stable job, I found out that someone I knew was leaving his position -- and that’s the position I ended up filling.
2) How has working the night shift changed your relationship with God?
James: The night shift has brought me closer to God. There is a lot of down time during my night shift, which leads me to think more about God. As I look up at the sky and gaze at the beautiful Manhattan skyline, and I’m surrounded by trees and water inside the empty park, I can’t help but appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. The down time also allows me to read the Bible more.
Kevin: Although my job has its challenges, I’m grateful of where I am. Some of my peers are still struggling to find a stable job. So I’m grateful. And having this heart of gratitude makes me feel closer to God.
3) How has working the night shift changed your perspective on life or work?
James: The night shift has led me to be closer to people. Because I’m inside an empty park all night long, I’m inevitably surrounded by loneliness and darkness for many hours. When the sun comes up and people start to re-enter the park, I find myself feeling happy to be around people again.
Kevin: I now work with a bigger picture in mind. Before obtaining my pharmacist license, I worked as an intern at my hospital. At that time I worked only during the day and I didn’t know how the hospital operated at night. Now that I work the night shift, I see how people’s work during both the day and night shifts connect. Seeing how the pieces come together has made me more aware in my job.
4) Are there thoughts that often cross your mind as you work the night shift?
James: I think a lot about God. I also think about my family -- whether my family is resting well and whether they had a good day. I also reflect about life and the beauties of the nature that surrounds me. Overall I try to think positive thoughts. Thinking about these things have a humbling effect on me and causes me to become more grateful. In my previous job, I was so busy that I never really thought about anything. Thinking and reflecting a lot through this night shift job has helped me to change and grow much as a person.
Kevin: I often think back on the days when I was still in pharmacy school, trying to get through school, and taking exams to obtain my license. I think about how hard and stressful that season was. Thinking about the past helps me to appreciate my current work and where I am right now.
5) Was there any experience when you especially felt God’s presence during your night shift?
James: Most of the interactions I have with people during the course of my job are not positive interactions; sometimes those interactions can lead to arrests or dangerous situations. But 100% of those potentially negative situations have turned out well. And I know that was because of God protecting me. There was one time when I was very close to getting into an accident with another vehicle. But God strongly protected me that time, too, and I was unharmed.
Kevin: There are nights when everything is rushed and people are on high alert, for example, when patients “crash” (patients are close to dying). I remember such night happened shortly after I began working. In those rushed moments I don’t think I was particularly aware of much else, but when I look back, God’s presence was always there. I realize that God had provided me with the strength to get through all those difficult nights.
6) What do you hope to achieve through your job?
James: I hope to learn a great deal in my current position, so that when the opportunity opens up for me to join the NYPD in the future, I will be ready. Park rangers and police officers perform very similar tasks, so the work I do now will serve as a helpful stepping stone to my future goal. But, I do love my current job and I’m certainly not in a rush to leave it.
Kevin: Because I rotate through different departments every night (cardiology, neurology, ICU, ER, pediatrics, etc.), I am exposed to various practices. So I hope to strengthen my experience in these practices so that in the future, I will have the requisite experience and background for whatever specialty I choose. I also hope to be a good mentor for incoming pharmacists.
7) Any prayer requests?
James: To be nicer to people, be a better Christian, and to always have positive thoughts.
Kevin: To have more thoughts of God and be a more committed person.
Interviewed by Ian Park