Dec 30, 2010

Is this what normal is?

I've spent the last year working overnights. 11pm-7am. It was a test run, essentially: trying to find a way to spend a bit more time at home and with MrsZ. Previously, I had been working evenings (3p-11p) and almost never saw my wife.

It's been a long year. Sleep became a precious commodity, snatched in fits and bursts when the opportunity arouse. Instead of my preferred 7-9 hours daily, I've been getting about 6 on a good day. Evening social events were again out, unless it was something absolutely critical or on one of my nights off.

I've gained fifteen or so pounds, my blood pressure has gone up, and my stress level has gone through the roof.

I walked out the door at 7:04 this morning and closed that chapter on my career. Beginning next week, I'll be on day shift. I finally came up with the seniority to get there. (Six years in March, although I could be bumped back to evenings in the next shift bid.) MrsZ and I get to commute together at least three days each week. I can be active in my fire department in the evenings. I get to sleep at night. I can do social activities; go out for a beer, enjoy a poker game, invite the neighbors for a BBQ, all that crazy stuff. I'm looking forward to it.

That said... there is a small piece of me that will miss the solitude and freedom of nights. With no upper management and no visitors floating around, it was usually just those of us working with an occasional visit from a deputy bringing coffee. The workload was generally quite tolerable - occasionally even slow - and the calls tended to the dramatic.

On top of that, the group I worked with were some of the best people I've worked with. Certainly there were personality differences, and arguments, but when things had to get done, we did them. We made a pretty good team, playing on each other's strengths and picking up the slack when needed. I'm going to miss working with most of them.

... but not enough to give up my sleep. :-)


cybrus said...

Awesome! Night shifts have some perks, but I also think the downsides outweigh the upsides.

Hope you keep your schedule after the next bid.

Matt said...

2300-0700 was actually my favorite shift. You can socialize with friends (as long as your friends are the kind of people with jobs, most won't want to run gatherings deep into the wee hours), you get off work just as stores start to open, and by the time the commute is done even the banks and the post office are open for business, so you can get stuff done during the day. And you get to sleep through most of the daily invasion by that big migraine-inducing yellow thing in the sky.

Then I got switched to the "evening" (2000-0400) shift, and suddenly found that my wife and I were becoming strangers, as my social life, my professional network, and my overall usefulness to the human race in any capacity other than my "day job" all quickly dried up. It was misery. I stuck around at that position just long enough for our mortgage refinance to get funded. (Literally. I got the call from the title company, and immediately fired off my already-written resignation email.)

If you like days...well, I'm happy that you have them. Not a fan, myself. But we can certainly agree on just how much suck is involved in a truly bad shift.