You’re a college student. You have classes, studying, homework, extracurriculars, rehearsals, practice and somehow, a social life. You have the promise of an exciting career in your future and new exciting relationships in your present. You have all of these wonderful things and a big pile of debt waiting for you when you graduate! Isn’t it lovely? So, in order to take the edge off of these ever accruing expenses, one must get a job. In my case, and the case of many poor college students like myself, that job came in the form of serving food at 3 a.m. From one late night worker to another, here are a few tips to surviving the graveyard shift.

The first thing that comes to mind is probably due to the fact that I’ve had a serious caffeine addiction since the age of 13. Regardless of this fact, coffee is imperative for night shifts. In order to maintain a healthy caffeination level, one must first find a source. If the place you work at has a coffee machine, clean it regularly, make sure it is always fully stocked with your favorite flavors and buy a half and half for the fridge. If there is no coffee maker available, find the nearest 24-hour gas station and make friends with the workers! I cannot stress this enough. There will be times that you will need a break from the chaos of your job, and it will be nice to see a friendly face that understands your struggle as you get your caffeine boost. Also, gas station coffee is usually a mere $2 a cup, but you never know what the power of friendship can do to that cost. I am not confirming or denying anything with this paragraph, but take my advice and be friendly. I would also suggest drinking at least a cup of water in between each cup of coffee because dehydration and over exhaustion are not friends. They are long time enemies that will leave you on the floor of said work place.

Do not, I repeat, do not eat the product you sell every time you work. I say this for a few reasons. First of all, late-night cravings are a very real thing that take over you with a fast and furious strength. You can combat late-night cravings in a dorm room because you do not have as much food available. However, when you are up all night working and surrounded by carbs and cheese, it can be a disaster. The freshman 15 will slowly creep up to the sophomore 30 if you are not wary of the amount of food you consume during your graveyard shift. It is ghostly, indeed. Another reason to take this advice is that if you enjoy the food that you sell, do yourself a favor and don’t eat it while you work. You will get so sick of it if you do so, as I will never be able to look at a slice of pizza the same way again. It’s sad, actually.

The time where business starts to pick up varies from establishment to establishment, but there is always a specific time when the crazies come out. There are many things that one needs to prepare themselves for before this happens. It should be no surprise that most of your customers will be looking at the same surroundings you are, but with a certain foggy and rose colored pair of glasses. With these glasses comes all sorts of chaos and fun, which can be positive and negative. Yes, you are the only sober one at the party, however, you must recognize your power; you have the food. You hold the mighty spatula in your hand that flips and slides magical carbs and dairy products that make customers of all ages swoon at the sight. You will be hit on simply because of this fact, so be gracious and give a smile with every order you hand out. You may just receive some $20 tips that were drunkenly mistaken for singles.

Just because you aren’t wearing said rose-colored glasses doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Your customers that come in at 4 a.m. have hilarious stories to tell and are in the best of moods, so take advantage of that. Talk to people and have fun! I have made some great friends at my job simply because I decided I was going to have some fun with it. Yes, you are working long and hard hours at a time where you wish you were the person on the opposite side of the counter, but you are doing it for a good reason and it will pay off. Don’t let the graveyard shift lead you to your grave, have fun with it.