I work third shift in a retail environment. There really are people who only come out at night. You don’t think they exist until you see them.
The town I live in is relatively small but there is a university just down the road and a hospital a couple of streets up. There are not many other places open 24hrs around here besides gas stations and Wal-mart. Because of that, I see all types of people.
I see church goers in their Sunday best and frat boys at their Saturday night worst. New fathers come in to shop for their wives. Factory workers stop by on their way home to pick up cat food. Shoplifters slink through the automatic doors to see what they can make off with. I see humanity at its best and worst.
I don’t necessarily love my job but it pays the bills, allows me to buy groceries, and gives me time to write. It also provides me with character enriching research opportunities. I get to people watch and get paid for it.
I observe how bad thieves act, how drunks stumble, and how addicts twitch. I get to see the confusion and embarrassment of men picking out feminine hygiene products, the sparkling eyes of grandparents spoiling grandchildren, and the frowns of worried mothers with sick children. Not all of the things I see are pretty. Sometimes I desperately wish for brain bleach. However, I can still use it to serve my own purpose, which is to better my writing.
Many of us have day jobs (or night jobs) to pay the bills. Sometimes it can get depressing when you compare those working for a pay check hours to the hours spent writing. The trick is to find something in your necessary job life and use it to the advantage of your writing life.
(I honestly wrote this as sort of a pep talk for myself but thought others might benefit from it too.)