How is it, when I know I have to get up early, I can't doze off for donuts, but when I know I have to begin working a 10.5-hour night shift tomorrow, and must stay up as late as possible tonight to begin the acclimation to the new schedule, I yearn for sleep with my whole soul? I drank a quart of caffeinated tea just two hours ago, and can barely keep my eyelids open. How I am going to keep alert and working on an assembly line until 4 AM for the next five nights I do not know. One of my friends told me, "5-Hour Energy may be your new best friend." But does that stuff work? And mightn't it be dangerous? Some "natural" supplements can do really screwy things to one's system, especially in concert with prescription medications.
I had a series of really bad dreams last night about all the things that could possibly go wrong with my work--from forgetting my boots to showing up late. It was actually sort of hilarious how my subconscious reviewed the litany of warnings that had been given to us during orientation on Friday. About the only think I didn't obsess over was the caution about dangerous critters that might accompany foreign-made parts--if we see spiderwebs in a components-shipment, we are to report this to a supervisor and not touch them, as apparently a while back an imported arachnid bit one guy on his hand and it swelled to the size of a grapefruit. The little joys of international commerce!
Speaking of nasty organisms, I was surprised and pleased to learn that we have a Level 4 isolation and treatment facility here in Georgia, which is now taking care of that poor missionary doctor stricken with Ebola in Liberia. While I was in the BTAEID program at Georgetown, we made a pilgrimage to Fort Detrick's cramped and frankly dated patient-care quarters, and that there are newer, and hopefully larger ones closer to hand is encouraging.
What would be frustrating, were I not preoccupied with the novelty and physical challenge of beginning factory work, is that now, not only are there issues in the Russian-speaking world, which I studied for so long, there is also a major infectious disease outbreak, whose prevention and containment I have also studied, and the only job available to me is the relatively un-intellectual (though certainly respectable) work of assembling tractors! But God is God and I am not--I cannot see the global or the eternal picture, and it seems that my becoming a skilled laborer is fundamentally more important at this moment than my possible contributions to any public policy process. A lesson in humility, and in punctuality, precision and diligence--traits I certainly need to exercise to succeed, whether I stay at the factory long-term or am eventually called elsewhere to use more mental than physical strength.