Baltimore at 4:45am
Unlike most folk my age, I am cursed with a job that requires the occasional odd-hour service. A function I do not like but carry it out dutifully.
I'm a programmer. I solve digital problems. Like how are you going to release and test a new set of software and web site that the world has never seen except in previews for a major Internet Services company, with an overseas team at the same time? Oh, and you can't drive and you need to be in the office to do it?
You overnight in Baltimore and get into the office by 5am.
I stay at a half-decent hotel for the night, a few blocks away from the job site. Check in, sleep fitfully, check out.
Baltimore at 4:45am. It is quiet. It is dark. There are few people around, namely waiting at bus stops to be picked up by the first runs. Blacks. No hookers. No nightlife. No owls. One looking out around a set of tour buses blocking a stop for the 3. I go up and make my right onto Baltimore Street. A lone Asian, walking alone, destination unknown. I don't stop to ask. I don't need to know. I have to get to work.
The subway isn't open, and I doubt the light rail is ether. I know there's no MARC service. It's why I overnighted in Baltimore. The air is crisp and dry and cool, verging on cold. I haul my backpack and overnight bag down the street. Around the closed station. Blacks waiting. Not many, but keeping to themselves. A bus rumbles up Charles. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I hit the intersection and cross with the light.
Nothing is open. Chinese place is lunch and dinner only. Rebooted New York buffet and grill doesn't open until 6. Coffee shop doesn't open until 7. I keep moving. Starbucks isn't open. The McDonalds closed while construction was going on next door. It can go. I cross Baltimore and then St. Paul. I can use coffee. I have to be at work at 5am. They have coffee.
I make it up to the office at 4:54am, and two coworkers are there with the boss. The boss passes a peice of paper around for breakfast orders. I scratch down my order after looking it up online. Everyone puts theirs in. I hunker down with a cup of decent coffee and say a silent prayer to St. Offrans.
We let the site fly. The core is good and proven, but the visible parts fumble and falter. I push a change through. Off shore team pushes changes as well. Test, fix, push, retest. It stablizes around 2:30pm. We call it a release and go home at 3.
I grab the first train home. It is light. I get off at the airport, meet my ride, and get a late lunch. I am tired. I am hungry. I chow on Burgerking and suck down Coke. Forget beer. That is for tomorrow. Today I am spent. Tomorrow, fire fighting. I collapse into bed early. A drone of a fan that is constant, never changing, never giving up or giving in. Never taking orders from something too close to be useful.
Baltimore can have 4:45am.