Monday, November 16, 2009

Waking Up

Eight minutes. Not too bad. From shutting off the alarm to backing out of the driveway in eight minutes. It reminded me of my days signing on at KEVN, when I regularly got up and out in 15 minutes. Of course today I took a few shortcuts I couldn't then; no shower, shave or breakfast. I didn't even comb my hair. What was the point? It was 4:30 AM, I wasn't going to get out of the car, and I'd be back in bed in half an hour.

What prompted this? Money, of course. More exactly, my daughter's job at the Holiday Inn, getting the breakfast bar ready, which occasionally requires her to be there at 5AM. It also entails a drive from the northeast side of town to the southwest, which at that time of day only takes about 10 minutes, thanks to all but one stoplight being in flashing-yellow mode, and presents an opportunity to see the town at an unusual (for me) time.

There may be cities that never sleep, but Pierre isn't one. Among businesses, only Wal-Mart and Marlin's (a truck stop) are open 24/7 here; even the convenience stores close. Only the hospital has enough vehicles in the lot to approximate daytime traffic. The vacant parking lots around everything else combine with all the lights that are left on in buildings and on lots, (I assume this is done for security, but it seems like too many lights are left on at most places. I think at least half could be shut off without affecting the purpose, saving a considerable amount of money.) to create a weird sense of unneeded space, as though the builders had been overly optimistic about growth prospects, or that the businesses are open in anticipation of commerce that isn't coming.

However, it's also apparent that this is just about the time the town starts to wake up. The drive over was almost devoid of traffic or other signs of life. Coming back just a few minutes later I saw people waiting to get into work at various restaurants, more lights on in homes and many more vehicles on the road; the first stirrings of civilization. As I undressed to get back into bed (only then noticing that I forgot to zip my fly; my quick get-up isn't as precise as it once was), I thought that being up and out at this time of day isn't all bad. But I'm glad that I don't have to do it regularly anymore.