Who's working in Houston on the graveyard shift?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In a massive, cold warehouse on the northwest side of Houston, pallet jacks and forklifts rule the aisles.

It's 1:30 in the morning, but one could mistake it for 1:30 in the afternoon, and that is by design.

"We make sure that from a lighting standpoint, from an equipment standpoint, that our partners feel like's it's daylight outside because it is their day," explained Mike Chatman, the director of Houston Warehouse Operations for H-E-B.

The 300 partners, as H-E-B calls them, do not miss a beat. They navigate the 500,000-square-foot warehouse with ease, filling produce orders for more than 100 Houston-area H-E-B stores. It is work done while most Houstonians sleep.

"My wife works during the daytime. And I work at nighttime and we have only one vehicle that allows us to both get to work," said Michael Stubblefield, a partner, who has worked for the Texas-based grocery store for eight years. He and his co-workers forgo conventional schedules, oftentimes for their family situations.

"Having kids and going to school. My wife works in the morning. I work at night, so it works perfect," added Herman Manglona, whose shift is from 4:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 3 million people work the "graveyard shift." Millions more, like Jerome Williams, work very early in the morning.

"I like what I do. It's making donuts but it's good. It might not be much, but I like it," said Williams, a baker for Shipley Do-Nuts.

He moved from Chicago for the "opportunities." It took him eight months to master donut-making. His children motivate him.

Ramiro Moreno, a supervisor at the store on Katy Freeway at Chimney Rock the night Eyewitness News visited, has worked for the 82-year-old donut shop for 35 years. He raised six children with his wife and believes he gets more out of his day having a start time of 3 a.m. for all those years.

"So I guess it's normal. When they sleep I work," Moreno said.

"You do have to make some sacrifices now and then, but I still go out and have fun and still live my life," said Robert Ramos, 29, also a Shipley Do-Nuts supervisor.

James Carpenter started working as a toll collector for the Harris County Toll Road Authority in 2002. When his wife was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer a few years later, his overnight shift took on greater meaning.

"I had to take her to the doctor so much," said Carpenter. "I worked nights so this worked out so well for me. I never missed work."

Now a toll plaza supervisor, he still prefers working his 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. shift because "it's cooler."

Carpenter drinks one energy drink each night to stay awake. The overnight shift can be "goofy," he says, but after 16 years, he has adjusted to working while so many other Houstonians are sleeping.

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