Day shift update. The journey so far.

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typically_dayshift Well, it’s been almost a month, now. Time for a day shift update.

For 23 years and 2 months, I’ve worked night shift.

By choice. I’m not a morning person. Never have been.

Some observations about 9-1-1 dispatching on day shift:

There’s a lot more of these (nonsensical, in my opinion) pleasantries about how I’m doing. You really don’t care if I’m having a good day, do you? I (usually) have to fib and tell you “I’m fine, thanks”, and then I’m obligated to ask how you are. Really, unless you’re calling in with a 9-1-1 call, it’s not any of my concern.

It’s not that I’m heartless or unfeeling. I hope you are having a wonderful day. But my knowing that doesn’t change our conversation, and there’s likely nothing I can do to make your day better if you’re having a bad one* and decide to tell me about it. Both sides of that conversation just distract from, and delay, the reason you called me in the first place. Do you need information, a phone number** , or any other of a hundred other different things I might be called upon to do for somebody?  The fact that it’s 9 am, and I should be sound asleep right now doesn’t make for a cheery “I’m great, thanks for asking” mood. Bah, humbug.

Lunch is much more of a hassle now. I have to wait until 1 pm, to try to avoid the worst of the lunch rush at nearby restaurants.

Traffic is annoying. Where the hell did all these cars come from? Why are they blocking the intersection?

Pedestrians leaving College of the Sequoias – look up from your damned phones! You’re going to walk right in front of a car if you keep that up.

Who the heck are these eleven-hundred units on my radio channel, and why don’t they follow protocol?

These twelve hour shifts are kicking my ass. You’d think two more hours wouldn’t be that bad, but the accumulative effect is already wearing me down. Having four days off every other week helps, but by the third day, I’m feeling it. On the long week, where I work four days, it’s very fatiguing. And that’s what we all need, right? A 9-1-1 dispatcher who is suffering from fatigue.

I was written up on the second day. For wearing jeans. I’ve been wearing jeans for all of my 23+ years in dispatch. Now I have to wear “slacks”. That required a hit on the JCPenny credit card I wasn’t planning on.

Oh, and day shift means I’m taking a $200 a month pay cut. Wonderful.

So as not to be completely negative, here are a few positives of day shift:

There’s a bit more eye candy coming through the door. That’s a double-edged sword, for sure. <sigh>

I’m sure there must be some more positives. I’m having trouble coming up with them right now, though. Maybe I’ll think of something later, and can edit this entry with them. Let’s both hold our breath on that, OK? (spoiler alert: I’m not holding my breath)

I’m staring at six months of day shift, before I can go back to nights. If you call in to my dispatch center during the day, and talk to a grumpy old man, that’s probably me. Sorry, after 23 years my ability to adjust to this change just isn’t going to happen quickly.

 

*again, unless you’ve dialed 9-1-1, and 99.9% of the time, you’re not going to ask me how I am. Although it does happen, strangely enough. Even for real emergencies. Haven’t figured that one out yet.

**although I’m not supposed to be a switchboard or 4-1-1 operator – that’s a pet peeve of mine. You no doubt are speaking to me on a device that can store literally hundreds, if not thousands, of phone numbers, or has the ability to look them up on the Internet. Why are you bothering me? It’s not like I don’t have anything else to do right now.

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Day shift – by a night person

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notsleptwellI’ve been a night person since high school. Maybe even before. With only a couple of exceptions, I’ve avoided jobs where I had to be at work early in the day.

For a short time, less than a year I think, I worked for an agricultural survey company, and had to be at work at 6am in the summer, and 7am in the winter. That was not enjoyable. I even turned down an offer to promote up to a foreman’s position, simply because I really disliked early hours.

For the past 23 years and 3 months, I’ve worked as a night shift 9-1-1 dispatcher. I long ago reached a seniority level that lets me pick where I want to be, and ever since then, my choice has been nights. In my jobs prior to dispatching, I almost always worked nights. When I started this job, in 1994, I had three months of training. It was day shift. I lost 15 pounds. (I weighed about 150 when I first started. I didn’t have 15 pounds to spare!) When training was done, I was assigned to night shift, which didn’t bother me at all. Working weekends did, but that was tolerable. I never looked back, and never went to day shift, even when I worked my way up the seniority list and it became possible. (I’ve also put on almost 25 pounds in those 23 years. A pound a year… not bad.)

Now, all of a sudden, I’m on day shift.

I’m not a happy camper.

Seems someone decided we needed to go from four – ten hour shifts, to twelve hour shifts with a complicated pattern to insure we only have eighty hours in two weeks. To avoid being paid overtime, you see. (That’s why my pay period ends in the middle of one of my shifts. So at the end of eighty hours, the pay period starts over. My thoughts about this would probably get me written up, so I’ll just leave it to the gentle reader’s imagination.)

Now, I work the following nonsense: Monday, 7 am to 7 pm. Tuesday, 9 am to 7 pm. Wednesday 7 am to 7 pm. Every other Thursday 7 am to 7 pm. In three months, I’ll go to the same pattern, but at the other end of the week, so I’ll have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and every other Thursday off. Then in three more months, I’ll go to 7 pm to 7 am on the first pattern, working nights. Then three months later, the opposite night shift.

This, we were told, will improve morale. And reduce overtime. I don’t buy either explanation. We’ll see how the OT works out, but I can tell you *MY* morale is not improved.

I’m dead tired. I can barely sleep, and what sleep I do get does not seem to leave me ready to start my shift. We’re barely two weeks into trying to change a 30+ year pattern, and it’s not working. The melatonin my doctor suggested doesn’t seem to do much (yet – he said give it 30 days. I’m thinking that would just be me getting used to the change, but what do I know? He’s the doctor. But not *THAT* Doctor!) There’s a side effect of melatonin… “intense” dreams. Mine have just been weird, but not particularly intense.

cantsleep

I’ve been trying to get to bed by 10 pm each night. That just seems completely nuts, but to rise at 6 am, I need time to fall asleep. I have never done that quickly, unless I’m just completely exhausted. I’ve been fighting to stay awake at work, but when I get home and get into bed, sleep doesn’t come. Or when it does, finally, it’s not deep or restful. The first few nights I just layed awake in bed until about 30 minutes before my alarm was due to go off. That’s the normal time I usually go to sleep. My body doesn’t want to change after so many decades.

I’m not used to feeling run down and sleepy at work. I’m worried my concentration is going to flag at a critical moment, and I’ll miss something. I’m not used to coming home and being exhausted. I’m hoping this will pass, and I’ll get used to the new shift, but so far no cigar. Not even a Tiparillo.

So far, I’ve resisted increasing my caffeine intake, but I may have to go back to always having a Pepsi at hand.

Oh, and did I mention…  I don’t like day shift.

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