Today was Tuesday, but for me... it was Friday.
My work schedule is rather complex rotation that incorporates five ‘shifts’ across period of six calendar week. I suppose I could try to explain it in a section below just for reference and clarity.*
My job requires that I work a seven-day week of straight evening-shifts (about 3pm-11pm) to begin my six-week shift rotation. After that seven-evening stretch of shifts, I have off for two days before I begin my next shift, which is a six-day week of straight morning-shifts (about 7am-3pm). Today, Tuesday the 1st of December, I finished my last of these six morning-shifts. I have off Wednesday and then return to work late Thursday night, starting a seven-day week of straight overnight-shifts (about 11pm-7am). After that, I have a three-day weekend, followed by a Monday-Friday 7am-3pm shift, then a two-day weekend, then a Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm shift with a planned ½ hour lunch break, then a three-day weekend. This brings me to the end of my work schedule’s rotation. I begin my seven in-a-row of evenings the next day.
As I said at the beginning of this post, today was my Friday. I start overnights in a few days, and I am rather looking forward to it because, as Matthew Walker, PhD. reminded me as I wrote last week’s book report, I am a night owl.
To celebrate the end of our morning shifts, which neither my work partner nor I are a great fan of for a multitude of reasons, we went to TGI Friday’s after our shift ended for some drinks, some snacks, and some well-needed laughs. Accompanying the two of us were a few of our co-workers, one of which just finished a two work-week stint sitting in on our work shift and learning the ropes from my partner and me.
As I sat there, glass-in-hand, listening to work stories both entertainingly funny and entertainingly frustrating, I realized how much I get out of nights like this. It is so easy just to go straight home after work, and that is what I usually do, but today reminded me that it is very worthwhile to delay my arrival at home for a brief while so that I and my co-workers can get together and decompress.
This made me begin to consider what steps I might be able to take to help facilitate activities like this going forward, and that is what made me start to think about how chaotic and untenable my work shift schedule really is. Having everyone’s time off align in a way that could get us all out together would be a virtual impossibility; ours is a 24-hour operation, so no matter the day or time, a minimum of two of us is always going to be left out.
Fortunately, we were able to get four of us to ‘Friday’s’ this afternoon, at least.
I remember having some of the same issues back when I worked at the police department, trying to figure out a good night to get together with some of the officers and other dispatchers. It was something I quite enjoyed doing, but when it became clear to me that circumstances would not allow for it to happen as often as I liked, I took more drastic measures. I began to organize regular grill nights for the officers and dispatchers, bringing in a little portable barbecue grill and setting up some tables to lay out a spread. Others participated as well, bringing in salads they made from home or contributing hamburger buns, chips, or soda.
It became something to look forward to for a lot of us, and I miss that.
With Covid-19, there is probably no way for me to recreate the regular grill nights. I cannot imagine that it would go over well if I suggested it to one of my bosses, and I don’t even know if I would find many of my co-workers all that interested in taking part anyway.
For the time being, I know that nights like tonight are worth trying to repeat whenever and however I can.
A few days ago, I posted of my doubts surrounding whether or not I should continue writing this blog. The last sentence I wrote, a question I have been asking myself for quite some time, was answered as I sat at the bar counter, dipping a Cheesesteak Eggroll into some Poblano Queso Dipping Sauce.
"Just who the hell do I think I am?"
I am a guy who can be fun to be around, so I do not always have to believe that I should ostracize myself out of some self-defeating desire to 'save them' from me.
I am a guy who has meaningful contributions to add to a lot of conversations, so I do not always have to feel as if I am intruding and unwanted when I am compelled to offer a few of my own thoughts.
I am a hard working guy who earns his pay and the respect of his peers and co-workers, so I do not always have to believe that I am unworthy of any of those things.
Finally, I am a hungry guy, and I've earned this appetite, so I am going to get myself more of these Cheesesteak Eggrolls.
Don't be jealous!