O.C. At Night: Working the Evening Shift

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Illustration by Jim McHugh

Megan Aveni
Front desk associate, Atomic Ballroom, Irvine
“We have a social dance after class every night of the week that sometimes goes until 2 a.m.,” Aveni says. The crowd tends to be an eclectic but friendly mix of folks. “We have those just learning, and also the regulars who’ve been coming for years. Dancing is so good for the soul; it puts everyone in a fabulous mindset. Everyone gets along, even if someone bumps into you.”

Illustration by Jim McHugh

Cristina Amaya
Registered nurse and relief coordinator, St. Jude Medical Center maternity ward, Fullerton
“I’ve worked nights for 17 years; when I started, I had young daughters, so I could take them to after-school activities and go to school functions. Now I’m part time, so I work twice a week, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Nights are supposed to be quieter, but it can be intense if a baby gets sick or a mom’s blood pressure goes up, and we have to call the doctors and wake them up. I think there is a closer camaraderie on the night shift. We have to be there for each other because we don’t have the extra support staff that’s here during the day. If we have a rough Friday night, the following morning we say, ‘Let’s go get mimosas. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.’ ”

Illustration by Jim McHugh

Jill Sanders
Zookeeper, Santa Ana Zoo
Sloths, porcupines, and other nocturnal critters feel free to move about their enclosures and socialize with their favorite humans after dark. “Pierce is our Indian crested porcupine,” says Sanders, caretaker for the night timers. “We got him almost 11 years ago, and I started working here not long after that. Every time I walk into his area, he hurries up to see me. He’s just like a big ol’ puppy dog when I’m around.” But how does one pet a porcupine? “His quills don’t start until after his shoulders, so all the affection happens up front.”

Illustration by Jim McHugh

Mika McCurry
Field reporter and tour guide, Orange County Ghosts and Legends
Orange County Ghosts and Legends has spooky down to a science. “We’re serious investigators,” says McCurry. “For our nighttime walking tours, we go to different places in Orange County and talk about the ghosts and legends for that location.” For even stranger things, interested souls can join the team for a “lockdown” to check out a venue said to be riddled with the paranormal. “We show you how our equipment is used, and any EVP—electronic voice phenomenon—that gets picked up.” During one lockdown, McCurry says, “We asked, ‘How old are you?’ and heard a voice on the playback. It sounded like a little boy. He said, ‘Eleven.’ ”

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