Lobs and lobsters

Ever since my college days, I've had night owl (or you could say vampire) tendencies. I can get on a roll late at night, and the next thing you know, it's starting to get light out. 

I think this crazy internal clock got going in my newspaper days. At the place I worked, the reporters were on three shifts. Most of us were on days, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But there was a night shift, with a handful of guys, which started around 4 p.m. as I recall, and then there was something called the "lobster" shift, which ran from something like 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. There was only one reporter on "lobster," but when he went on vacation, sometimes they'd tap me to fill in. I was just a kid. I recovered quickly. It was cool. And it was a union shop, so we got paid a little extra, a "differential," on night or "lobster" (the etymology of which I never learned).

Fast forward 50 years. I teach at a school that has some evening classes. No sweat! And when the Australian Open tennis tournament rolls around every January, my fascination with that sport is well-served by my lobster shift profile. In Melbourne, it's five hours earlier than here, only the next day. And some of their late matches run past midnight their time. Do the math and you'll see I've been up way too late. Naps are good.

Anyway, this year's tournament over there has been a real hoot. On the women's side, many of the big shots got knocked out early, including Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur. There were so many upsets that one of the semi-finals pitted a 12-seed, Zheng Qinwen of China, against a qualifier, Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine. The other women's semi- made a lot more sense: Aryna Sabalenka, the screaming Mimi 2-seed from Belarus, defeated Coco Gauff, the fabulous American 4-seed who's a seasoned veteran yet still a teenager. It was sweet revenge for the Belarussian, as Gauff had beaten her in the U.S. Open final last September. 

I watched their rematch with the sound off, which is the only way I can take a Sabalenka match because of all of her blood-curdling shrieks. And I must say, it was even more interesting without the announcers, who I have come to realize don't usually add much. Sabalenka will face Zheng in the final, which happens at 12:30 a.m. our time tomorrow, Saturday (which is like tonight, I think).

On the men's side, it was all going according to the seedings – "chalk," as they say – but the wheels started coming off in the quarterfinals. Sascha Zverev, the dangerously volatile German seeded 6th, came out absolutely smoking to send young Carlos Alcaraz, the 2-seed, packing back to Spain. Alcaraz didn't know what hit him until it was too late to stage a comeback. Then the 4-seed, Jannik Sinner of Italy (pictured), upended the defending champ, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who had reached the semi-finals despite some pretty flat play all week, at least by his standards. 

To top it all off last night (this morning), Zverev went up two sets to none in his semi-final with Daniil Medvedev, the once-fiery, now-more-mature Russian seeded 3rd, only to have Medvedev win two tiebreakers and a match-clinching fifth set. It was nuts. Sinner and Medvedev will play for their first Australian Open championship on Sunday (again, 12:30 a.m. our time, more like Saturday night, I think). The only other Grand Slam title either of them has won was by Medvedev at the U.S. Open in 2021.

When they hand out the new trophies this weekend, I will have one less excuse for staying up all night. But not that I have ever needed one since I first clocked in on the lobster shift.


  1. Great stuff! Rock Lobster!

  2. It makes me a little queasy to see another high-profile Chinese woman player, knowing what happened to Peng Shuai. Hopefully Zheng won't have to face the impossible choice between imprisonment and acquiescing to rape.

  3. A reader found this: "Spiny lobsters are nocturnal and emerge from their hiding spots during the night to forage on their favorite foods including crabs, clams, and other invertebrates."

  4. I worked a swing shift job for almost two decades, and my sleeping hours kept getting pushed up further into the morning. What once was 2:00 AM became 6:00 AM. Now that I am retired, it is a free for all. I used to be real dependable during the day hours, and now if I have an appointment or obligation I dread it beyond what is reasonably logical.

    I guess I can just justify it by saying that I live an alternative lifestyle. Yeah.....that’s the ticket.

  5. Lobster shift seems to be a newspaper centric term. This link makes sense for the orgin of the term: https://www.americanheritage.com/lobster-shift


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