Life in the Express Lane

I’m a painter by trade, so that’s what I’m busy doing when I’m not pretending to be a writer or a graphic artist.  I’m not gonna front and say that it’s my dream job, but that definitely doesn’t mean that I don’t like doing it either.  Plus, and I don’t wanna toot my own horn, but ok yes I do, I’m pretty good at what I do. 

This is a picture of us working at the market.  Circa 2014

This is a picture of us working at the market. Circa 2014

There are a lot of perks, like, for instance, I don’t have to work inside of an office tackle box like 95% of the country; I get to work in a lot of different locations on a variety of different projects; I get weekly gratification because of the quick turn around on most of our projects; and I don’t have to wear Khaki’s and a Polo and listen to some passive aggressive guy named Greg tell me about his kid’s tap dance recital by the water cooler every day.

One of the coolest ongoing projects that I have the pleasure of working on is a ginormous upscale shopping market in an uber hipster region of the metro-Detroit area.

It’s a night shift-only project, which is awesome for the first couple hours of the first couple of nights.  It seems like every time I walk in there to do a job that Frankie Valli song from the movie, Grease, is playing on the overhead speakers.  I think they do that on purpose, and I always feel like I’m in the climax scene of a really cool movie about painters or something.

*Slow Motion Entrance*

However, by hour four of every shift, and about 150 doo-op songs later, I want to swan-dive off the roof head-first.

Hey, Pop Trivia Time:

What is the most frequently asked question that I get asked as a painter while working at the market?

*Jeopardy Theme*

Answer:  Daily Double.

The most frequently asked question that I get as a painter while working at the market:

“Painting, eh?”

The world is chalk full (<–blatant grammatical error) of observant people, and I tip my cap to all of you eagle-eyed lookie-lou’s.

But anyways, this store is huge.  If I had to conservatively guess, there are probably about 40,000 employees working there because I’ve never seen the same person twice.  There’s like an employee-making portal or something somewhere in the store that these people come out of before they promptly begin stocking shelves and crushing bulk pineapple slice boxes.

One person who I know for sure works there on a regular basis is Matt; a highly attentive, very slow-talking, Asian night shift dude.

"Yeah, any one of those will work, Matt"

“Yeah, any one of those will work, Matt”

Matt is a cool guy, but our conversations are full of too much information and they take a lot of time to complete.  Matt gave us access to the intercom system the first night, so that if we ever need him for any reason, like, to move somebody’s coat or something, we could send out a page and bring him to the break room area where he will promptly move the coat for us.

As you might have already guessed, we’re abusing this privilege:

“Matt to the break room; we have a thermostat question.  Not sure if 68 degrees is the preferred temperature in here or not.

“Matt to the break room;  we’re gonna need some imported beer up here pretty soon.  If that’s cool with you.”

“Matt to the break room; we ran out of coffee.”

“Matt to the break room; we’re gonna need some help finding a spatula.”

Tonight is the third night of the project.  My eyes are scratchy right now.  I feel like hammered shit.  I’m over-caffeinated.  I’m listening to my neighbor talk about her appointment with her podiatrist this afternoon on the front porch.  I’m crazy-laughing.

But that’s life in the Express Lane.  Cue the Frankie Valli.

*Puts on Shades*

*Pages Matt*

Salute \m/


  1. Nicole Marie

    I wish I had a Matt, too. I sort of know how you feel, since I’m usually crazy-laughing and over-caffeinated by the end of a morning shift. Getting out of bed at 4 AM while some people are just going to bed totally BLOWS.

    • Chowderhead

      Salute \m/

      Yes, it is killing the fuck out of my normally spot on sense of what’s up from down. The hardest part is figuring out what to eat and at what time. It’s weird eating a sandwich at 4 o’clock in the morning..?

  2. JackieP

    Hot toddy always works. When I worked night shift at a casino I would get home about 4 am and stay up till god knows when. A hot toddy would always take me out. Or of course, there’s another way to get rid of that buzz of energy, but since I’m rated PG I won’t say what it is……

      • JackieP

        You are rated M I’m rated PG. ok ok….do I have to spell it out man?? s.e.x……that is always good to make you tired enough to sleep. haha!

      • Chowderhead

        Freaky Deeky, you didn’t give me a chance to answer, but thank you for spelling it out. And duly noted haha! I did a good job of extracting that one here, didn’t I? \m/

  3. NotAPunkRocker

    My ex husband almost always worked night shift. We got divorced a year into his starting day shift.

    What’s with guys named Matt being funny-cool?

    • Chowderhead

      I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down, Sheena Sheena Bo Beena. And give me another example of a Matt that is funny-cool, because I only know one off the top of my over-caffeinated head \m/

  4. Amy Reese

    Oh Adam, this just made me laugh. Is Matt still going to let you have the intercom?? You could really have some fun with that one! Those are probably strange hours to get used to….and to think this is only the beginning. I can’t picture you by the water cooler talking about dance recitals. Now maybe if you had a beer in your hand. P.S. Will be looking at photos this weekend.

    • Chowderhead

      Thank you thank you, I’ll be here all night. No wait, I won’t. But I’ll be back around 4 or 5 am if you’d like to pick this up later. I’m brainstorming intercom one-liners right now, actually. I keep a small notebook handy when one comes to me. And yes, it is kind of a weird feeling doing the night shift dance. It’s foggy. Suprisingly, I haven’t had a beer in a couple days which is just fucking weird. Keep me posted on the pics \m/

  5. Tom Merriman

    Ah, the night-shift! I used to really enjoy working nights, finishing at 7am and going home to bed. The work was OK, and the conversations by the water cooler were… ahem… less than stimulating, as you say, Adam… but what I really really enjoyed was knowing that most people had just gotten up for work and were setting off for their day. And I was going home. I’m not going to do my evil laugh now, as I no longer work nights and I’m now one of those I spent years laughing at back then. We never had a pager, but we used chairs for office trolley-dashes. Workers get up to all sorts on nights!

    • Chowderhead

      Yes, yes I concur. You know it’s funny you mention the traffic, because the early early morning rush hour is fucking crazy. I’m not sure if I’m just tired and loopy, or if these people are nutty drivers. I feel like I’m at the Indy 500 and trying not to get sideswiped by GMC Yukons..

  6. 1jaded1

    The night shift is the best. Which mall? Chances are it is way out my league.

    Matts are awesome.

    You probably know this but the middle finger salute goes something like this. ..l.. or this ,,l,,..or nlm.

    🙂 \m/

    • Chowderhead

      It’s a grocery store, and I shan’t reveal the name so as to protect the identities of the innocent. And yes, I thought I invented the middle finger salute? ,,I,,.


  7. Deanna Herrmann

    This was too funny. I’m totally a night owl and always loved working night shift…..until I had a kid. Now I have to wake up before the sun rises and start the day instead of end it. 🙂

    • Chowderhead

      Yes, kids seem to have that effect on people’s schedules and related scheduling stuff. I’m pretty sure that I like my schedule not starting when everyone’s is ending…

      Thanks for reading, Deanna \m/

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