Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I'll bet Mr. LaHood has never worked a day of shift twork. Well I did for 25 years in various hydo power plants around the country.. and yes I have fell asleep on watch, especially on Graveyard. Have you ever stopped to think how the 12 to 8 shift got that name.. Days on end you can't sleep when you are supposed, you drink, you take drugs, you blacken your room, your family tip toes around to keep from waking you..

Shift schedules vary place to place. The most popular when I was working was 10 days on 4 days off...Sounds pretty good (on the surface) When and if you ever got the 4 days off they were nice, enabling family trips, mini vacations by adding a day or two of leave... The when you got them was the problem.. I have never in all my years operated anywhere where we had a full crew for more than a couple of months.. Somebody was always going somewhere else... My bosses believed you couldn't turn down the overtime , they were wrong, but we were our own worst enemies.. Turn down a double time day, not likely. So more often than not we worked 3 of our 4 days off. Probably only took the 4th off because the wife was oiling the shotgun up and looking at me in a threatening way. That still put you working 13 out of 14. grueling.

Yep, we made damn good money , but when it was over , you looked around and wondered where it all went..

Now for the good part. A sailor, or an operator pick up some really bad habits because of the long hours and tension filled jobs.. To a man , most drank 3 or more pots of coffee, smoked 3 or more packs of cigsa day, drank more than 1 beer in an effort to sleep at least a little . At age 50 I had a heart attack and a quad bypass, not because of the job , but because of the habits picked up along the way..

Now Mr LaHood, thinks he fixed the ATC problem by mandating an extra hour off between shifts.. Whoopeee, you couldn't sleep the first 9 so that extra hour is heaven...Last I checked they couldn't drink 8 hours before shift., man you gotta be able to chug em down to be an air traffic controller.. Most operators figure out pretty quickly when they report to a new station what period during graveyard is best suited for a quick nap... if you going to deliberately take one , that's the time.. Not comes the real ball buster , Most of these naps are not planned, one minute you are bright eyed and bushy tailed , the next sound asleep.. and the next minute scared shitless.. also very good on the heart.

This is just another problem where you have to tell the bean counters to take a hike, and do everything you can to make the work environment safe. If you have to spend money , so be it. Any job involving shift work that has long periods of beautifully silent time, with nothing going on can be considered nap time.. not because you want to , just because it happens...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, in the health care industry it's shift work at low pay. I survived! The Roman Army had 3 hour shifts at night and still had to hang some workers.