Sunday, November 09, 2008

Time Keeps on Shifting

Working in the airline industry, it's been well over a decade since I've had anything resembling a "normal" 8-5, Monday through Friday type schedule. My time clock (already suffering from the effects of working graveyard shift) is doubly screwed up this week due to the daylight savings time change, which makes it a bit more challenging to fall asleep in the morning. Anyhow my point is that it is very easy for me to forget which day of the week it is, and so, when I ran by the bank at 3 PM today, I was initially puzzled as to why it was closed, until I remembered it was Sunday. Oops. Guess I'll head back by tomorrow.

I guess the last regular office hours type job I had was a work-study position with the VA back when I was finishing up my degree after getting out of the military, so that would make it...early 1994. I worked at a factory job to save up some money before going to get my FAA dispatcher license later that same year, and those hours were also odd (6 AM to 6 PM) but at least they were during the day. I've often said that if I worked a traditional schedule with weekends and holidays off, my body wouldn't know how to handle it, but I suppose I'd get used to it soon enough.

The schedule I work right now (on the graveyard shift) is one I'm kind of getting tired of...6 days on, 3 days off. True, it does ensure that I have a long enough break to get reaclimated to falling asleep at night, but on the negative side, if I am trying to pick up an extra shift for overtime, it makes for a very long week. I usually don't like working seven days in a row, so I end up normally picking up an afternoon shift in the middle of my days off, if I want to work OT.

The other (non-graveyard) shifts at my job work in a 5 on 2 off 5 on 3 off rotation. I like that better so it's what I'm bidding for next year...working swing shift, 2 PM to 10 PM. I still don't know for sure if I'll get it or not. If I don't, I'll be working a "reserve" line where I fill in as needed for vacations and open time. That is not my first choice, but they do normally take your shift preferences into account when building those reserve line schedules, so I can hopefully end up with afternoons most of the time. My point is, I'm tired of working graveyards all the time, so I'm going to avoid working them next year as much as possible.

The advantage of the 5-2, 5-3 rotation (or the 6-3 rotation, for that matter) is that your days off are not always the same. I suppose senior people might see this as a disadvantage since you can't always get weekends off, but I like the weekdays I have off changing. It's generally a lot easier to get errands done during the week than on weekends...and this way, even junior people get weekend days off occasionally. I have a friend who used to work at a large airline in Seattle as an operations agent that had the traditional 5 on 2 off type schedule, and he said some people there had been working for that airline for over twenty years that still could not get weekends off. I think NEVER having any weekends off other than from vacations would get kind of old after a while.

The worst shifts (in my opinion) are ones that start super early and end around noon. I am not a morning person or early riser (I think 6 AM starts are way too early) so how people enjoy working a 4 AM to 12 PM schedule is beyond me, but we have several people who seem to like it. We used to have one shift that started even earlier, a 3 AM to 12 PM desk. Can you say OUCH? True, they did get some extra days off for working nine hour days...but it would not be worth it to me. I have in the past had to work some 4 AM shifts...even some 3:30 AM shifts a while back...and I truly hate them. I end up taking a nap when I get home and not getting anything done after work.

Our schedule bid ends in a few days, so I'll find out what kind of hours I'll be working next year soon enough.


Suldog said...

Little tidbit, just for you: The foreman on our jury was an airline pilot, Trans Air. Very nice guy. Their hub is Atlanta, so on the weekend we had between days five and six, he flew down there, captained a flight to Phoenix, then back to Atlanta, and flew back up here by Monday morning to resume his duties. Yuck.

Chuck said...

Suldog - I was lucky enough with my weird schedule to get two days off from work for serving on jury duty last time. But yeah, aviation is definitely a 24/7/365 type of job.

Anonymous said...

The Wrench has been working 5 on, 2 off from 3 pm to 11 pm for the last 15 years... since before Twinks was born.

This month, for the first time in 15 years, he had to switch back to days.

It's killing us all... *everything* is messed up - sleep schedules, meals, everything.

He's going to have to swap shifts for at least the next three months, and we already remember why he bid to stay on seconds (swing).

New supervisor... need I say more?

Tiredly yours,

Thim :)

Chuck said...

Thimbelle - I ended up get an afternoon hard line for next year, so I'm quite happy about it. Hope the Wrench can get back on the schedule he prefers soon!