Becoming a night owl for a good cause – Operation Red Nose

I am not a night owl.

If the Spruce Kings game we broadcast on Friday evenings on CFIS goes overtime and doesn’t finish until about 10 p.m., I view that as a late night.

But for five nights in the next couple of months, I will be staying up until after midnight, and enjoying it. It’s Operation Red Nose time again, and my first night will be Dec. 1.

The service starts the night before, but as I just explained, we broadcast Spruce Kings games on Friday nights, and that makes it just a little too late for me to help out those nights.

The idea behind Operation Red Nose, for those who don’t know, is quite simple: We get you and your vehicle home safely on the weekends during the holiday season. It runs Friday and Saturday evenings, starting at 9 p.m. and running until 3 a.m., from Nov. 30 to Dec. 22, and then again on New Year’s Eve.

It’s a lot of fun, whether you’re on the road as part of a three-person team giving the rides or back at the headquarters, doing any of the number of jobs there.

My main function the past few years has been to oversee the phone crew, partly because I can’t usually make it to 3 a.m., so I can’t really do the phones myself, but I can make sure the people on the phones know what they’re doing, as well as handling any problems which may come up.

The exception to my go-home-early clause (not that there is a real contract with real clauses) is New Year’s Eve. That is the craziest night of the year, especially starting at 12:01 a.m.

Most years, from then until 4 a.m. (yes, we stay open an extra hour that night), the phones hardly stop ringing. We do our best to let people know how long a wait it will be, since we never have enough teams on the road, and most people accept that it could be a couple of hours before we get to them.

You can sometimes tell the people who have used Operation Red Nose on New Year’s Eve before. You tell them it will be a couple of hours, and they say, “That’s what we figured on, so that’s why we phoned now”.

One thing I have noticed in the years I’ve done Operation Red Nose in Prince George, and have never found an explanation for, is how often we will go to pick someone up at a party in College Heights, and find out they live on the Hart Highway, and vice versa.

It keeps the teams busy, though, which is a good thing.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Operation Red Nose and how to volunteer, just go to ornpg.ca.