WARNING: Weird/stream-of-consciousness/bizarre thoughts post ahead.
Happy 4th of July, friends and followers! Are you all cooking out today? Going to watch fireworks? (If they haven’t been cancelled due to the scorched earth most of us are experiencing across this magnificent country) Anybody working? I am not, but I have in the past and will certainly again in the future, and I had a random burst of an idea today to briefly blabber on about those of us who sacrifice fun picnics, “normal” schedules, and spending time with loved ones to, ya know, TAKE CARE OF THE GENERAL POPULATION.
As Nikki and I have mentioned, we work in the notorious healthcare industry, basically as scientists, in hospital laboratories, although in different capacities. This means one thing: Working shitty schedules and holidays. At this point, we have each managed to climb our way up the ladder to the ultimate goal most in healthcare wish to attain: the illustrious DAYSHIFT (note my sarcasm). Nikki’s position doesn’t require her to work weekends, but she does have to work the occasional holiday, mine requires me to work one weekend a month, and the occasional holiday as well.
I personally think that any job in this country that requires you to give up your life should come along with some little perks or bonuses; sadly, they don’t really. Sure you can get overtime or double-time or whatever for working a holiday or an off-shift, but it’s usually piddly. ($.080 an hour dawg!!!! BLINGGG!!!) Also, most of it goes to taxes (which I am fine with paying, actually), so from my personal experience, you put yourself out, and get around $20 in your pocket in return for your troubles. Why don’t we take better care of those who are taking care of us??? If I ruled the world: You work night shift, you automatically get 3 extra weeks paid vacation. Bam. You work a holiday, you automatically make triple what you would make on a normal day. Your job puts YOUR LIFE DIRECTLY AT RISK ON A DAILY BASIS: i.e. police, firefighter, hey, in all honestly lots of healthcare workers could conceivably contract HIV on any random day – some sort of amazing perk that I can’t even dream of …. but this ain’t the world we live in.
But I digress, the point of this post really started out as me thinking about how I used to work the afternoon shift (3:30 – midnight) and how I really miss the ever-living shit out of those hours. Crazy, right?
First off, you gotta know that I am neither a morning, nor night person. If left to my own devices, my perfect sleep/life schedule is to go to bed around 11pm and wake up around 8:30/9 am. Working seconds allowed me to sleep in EVERY. DAY. Never used an alarm, ever. No horrid sound at 6 am pulling me out of the freaking REM sleep I was most definitely in. It has to be healthier to wake on your own. I gained 10 pounds after I went to days, and I believe it has to do directly with the change in my sleep habits.
But Annie, you say, it sucks to work every night! How do you hang out with friends and family??? What if you want to go out to dinner? And I answer to you: I really actually don’t do that shit anyways. People foretold to me that day shift (8am – 4:30 pm) would unlock a magical environment where nightly I would visit all those dearest to me, go to lavish restaurants, and just have a general blast, watching sunsets over the lake from my deck. Sadly, none of that happened. In reality, by the time I brave the rush hour commute (a C*** of a trip, let me tell you), it’s 5:30, I’m exhausted, drained, and hardly have the energy to cook myself dinner. After grabbing the mail, changing out of scrubs, and checking my email (you know the internet on our work computers is forbidden, silly), it’s like, 8 pm, and the melatonin wants to kick in. Basically everyone I know informed me that after I switched schedules, they never saw me. Now, I am single, and have no kids; I realize this is not ideal for everyone. If you work an opposite schedule as a spouse or partner, you’re never gonna see them, ever, and that’s bad for business. But for me, those are moot points.
In all actuality, there are pros and cons to every schedule or shift. Some of the pros I personally enjoyed while working one of the more derided schedules around are as follows:
- Matinees – I would always hit up movies before work. My favorite movie theater charges $5 for the first showings of the day, so I’d bring coffee and a bagel, spend a few bucks, and watch a movie in utter peace and silence (cause hardly ANYONE goes to see Young Adult at 10:45am on a Wednesday). It really doesn’t get better than that.
- Not passing out at 10 pm on the dot every night – Now that I’m used to (at least as much as I can be) waking up at 6 am, an intense melatonin cascade akin to the power of Niagara Falls hits me around 10 pm every single night. This really fucking crimps my style on the weekends, as I get so goddamned exhausted, I feel like I can’t do fucking anything, ever. On afternoons, I was used to going to bed around 1:30 am every single night, so nights off, I watched movies, got shit done, just had a blast and didn’t have to be bothered with crippling exhaustion.
- Making $0.80 an hour more – Yeah, it’s piddly, but in this fucking economy, every pittance helps. Losing about $70 a month accounts for almost a grand a year, and that shit matters. Loved doing my taxes since moving to the magical day shift, as my gross income has fallen. 😦 Weep for me.
- Concerts are not a pain in the ass – You know what I’m talking about. Up at the crack of dawn, work all day, rush around like be-headed poultry to get yourself to a venue by 7, and the headliners never come out till 9 pm, the melatonin is kicking in, you’re pissed, you’re exhausted, the traffic blows, you get home at midnight, utterly dead, haven’t been home, haven’t picked up your mail, haven’t spent time with your pet or children, and get to sleep 5 hours before going back to work. That is some wretched shit right there, people. If you want to see a concert and you work in the evening, you have zero choice but to use vacation time. But this is not bad, alas, imagine this day: Wake up at your leisure, spend the day getting things done, spend time getting your hair did and all that jazz, get to the venue before all the sad fucks who were at work all day, enjoy the concert, DON’T GET TIRED when the headliner comes out, don’t worry about what time you get home as you get to SLEEP IN TOMORROW, and then go home and leisurely fall asleep, content with your concert experience, not a care in the world.
- Errands and doctor appointments don’t require you to burn through vacation time – I really, really, REALLY HATE THIS ONE. Oh, is your car broken? Waste vacation hours. Are you sick? Waste vacation hours. Do you need to do some weird banking? Again, waste vacation hours. I took this for granted on my old shift. Being able to go to a doctor or place that is only open during “business hours” any time you want is a huge perk, and I don’t think people realize this.
- Parking/traffic isn’t as soul-sucking – I added up all the extra time my commute took when I switched schedules; I lost 4.5 days a year to sitting in traffic. At my place of employment, off-shift employees were required to park in the visitor parking decks which are conveniently attached to the building. Most days I pulled out of my garage and into theirs. I NEVER had to clean snow off of my car. EVER. Do you KNOW HOW AWESOME THAT IS?! Now, I park with the other day shifters: In huge lots that are about 10-minute walks from the lab, and one requires you to walk across A FREEWAY, WITH NO STOPLIGHT. And when it snows, just bend over.
- Getting to shop with less of the general population – The grocery store at 5:30 pm is a fate worse than the fires of Mordor. The grocery store at 9:30 am on a Tuesday is mostly empty and doesn’t cause nasty side effects like rage strokes or high blood pressure.
There you have it. My weird and rambling thoughts on working a different schedule than the rest of the “normal” population. Guess what? Our civilization requires shift-work. That’s the nuts and bolts of it. I guess I’ve noticed that as our society demands more and more for services to be open and available longer and more days, I find most people I know to be utterly unwilling to work hours different from what we grow up living as kids in school. Listen, if my house is burning down at 3 am, I want somebody to come save me and my cat. And I think anyone willing to sacrifice themself, their life and sleep to help me with that, deserves respect, money, and perks. Not a 9-5er whining, “ugh, I can ONLY WORK 9-5 M-F!! I would NEVER DO ANYTHING ELSE!!!” <—-Entitled. Asshole.