I Got Nothin'

I am not sure how many of you are "in the know" on this, but as of the first part of September, I have been working the "dogwatch" or overnight shift. 

We "bid" our shifts each trimester (4 month periods) by seniority.  The first five years of my career was spent working overnights. 

It was horrible. 

By the end, I could not sleep (I slept between two and four hours a day), I became chemically dependent on caffeine and was taking between two and four caffeine pills twice a night just to "barley" stay awake, I gained 100 lbs (don't get me wrong... I blame myself for that - I let it happen.  The dogwatch shift was what I call a "contributing factor"), my fuse (and temper) grew very short, I had became a angry and sometimes even a mean person. 

Finally, between my fifth and twelfth year I had reached a level of seniority that allowed me to not have to work overnights, and I worked a "mid" shift (3pm-11pm) or a "power" shift (7pm-3am).  Things got better. 

Then, the kids started reaching school age.  After work, I would be home by midnight, and in bed.  I was still able to be up and spend time with the schoolagers in the morning - then with the pre-school age kids during the day, until I had to leave for work (around 2pm).  They were young enough that homework was not a big issue, and after school sports were only just beginning. 

Finally about two years ago,  I achieved enough seniority to be able to work a "day watch" shift (7am-3pm).  I was home with my kids after school, I could help with homework, take them to baseball, basketball, Boy Scouts, Sewing class, and sleep like a normal human being!  I met neighbors I had rarely seen in the previous 10 years that we have lived in our house, I met parents of my children's friends that I really only knew by name, I attended events at the kids school (musicals, science fairs, etc)  It was as if a whole new world opened up to me.  I could not believe how "opposite" my life had become from the world around me.

Then, the powers that be decided that the schedule we were working was no longer "adequate" and have been changing it for the past year.  Some shifts have been eliminated, and others have been extended.  Here is where I will keep my personal opinions to myself.

Between some change in the people above me in seniority, and the changes in the schedule as a whole, I found myself facing a decision that I had not had to for almost ten years.  Work overnights, or work one of the "new shifts" that would prevent me from seeing my children AT ALL on the days I worked.  I would still be sleeping when they left for school, and I would be gone before they arrived home.

I did something that I promised myself I would NEVER do again... I selected the overnight shift.

Thankfully, (so far) I am sleeping between four and six hours a day (with the help of sleeping pills), I have not hit the caffeine tablets too hard yet (never more than one, and I do not take them every day), and I have remained (at least as far as I can tell) on a pretty level temperament. 

I am home to see the kids after school, can help with homework, still sign up for classes like Firearm Safety, stay involved with the Scout Program, and other similar things.  That is the upside.

The downside is, I have little time (or energy) for much else.  I vowed to make sure I get SOME exercise this trimester, and have been walking two miles with my wife each and every morning...  But after working from11pm-7am, it's a STRUGGLE to stay motivated to spend an extra hour walking, then coming home and cleaning up before going to bed. 

And even though I am getting MORE sleep than I did ten to fifteen years ago, the sleep just is not the same.  It's not as "restful", and it is a odd vibe to wake up at 2pm - and still be groggy in the middle of the afternoon.  But, at least I get to spend time with my family - and even though I may not care for the hours so much, in this economy, (let's be honest here) I am VERY thankful to have a job!

Great story FOF, but why did you feel the need to share this with us??

I decided to share this with you because one of the things I have noticed about myself while working overnights... Is my lack of creativity.  It is amazing how quickly my inspiration, and creativity to work this blog has been quashed.  Oh, the interest is still there... I see things that I say "Ooo... that would make a hilarious post", but when it comes time to sit down and write...

I got nothin'.

So please bare with me these next few months.  I have a feeling that posts will be coming less frequently, and for those of you who's blogs I read regularly (and I still do), you may have noticed my commenting has also dropped off dramatically...  Just remember this... I may not be commenting, but I am still following!


  1. Just post up when you can.

    Besides, we never really thought you were THAT funny, FOF. Just kidding.

    Now go get some sleep.

  2. Just post up when you can.

    Besides, we never really thought you were THAT funny, FOF. Just kidding.

    Now go get some sleep.

  3. That blows. I don't know why they can't come up with a schedule that a bit more family-friendly. Is it really that hard? Maybe it is. I dunno. Too bad they can't put you guys on like 4 on, 3 off or something like that to make up for it.
    Hang in there man!

  4. David,
    You have the answer! Steal from others! Yes, post the latest Missive, that should give you at least 2 weeks!
    Don't thank me, it's what I do.

  5. Last paragraph . . "So please bare with me . . . "
    I don't go that way, and even if I did I couldn't bear it.

  6. I hope these 3 months pass quickly for you. keep a note pad or mini tape recorder in your pocket to keep track of funny thoughts when you have them. Easier said than done.

  7. Sorry for the change in shift man, but like you said, in this economy a job is a job. Hopefully it'll go by quickly and won't take too much of a toll on you. Good luck!

  8. Tough deal! You made the right choice. Overnight stinks, but a shift that doesn't let you see your family would be much worse. Just make sure you are your lovable self so they want to see you. Do your best to take care of your health and the health of your family relationships. I'll be praying for you and yours.

  9. Not cool! Sorry about the crappy schedule :-( I agree with Postulatesandpasttimes . . . they should do a 4 on/3 off type of thing. I'm married to a pilot with an 8 on/7 off schedule. So while he's gone for 8 days straight, we also get him 100% of the time for 7 days straight, which is way better than getting only 10% of him every day.

    I hope you can make it work!

  10. I feel your pain. Been on the midnights for almost 2 years now. Better than the 4p-2a I had been on (nothing like going 5 days without seeing your working spouse OR your kids). I guess nights are better, but then they shortened our shift and added days (read: took away 3 days off a month). That bites. My problem comes from adding nursing school into the mix. I feel you on the tired. Try melatonin, seems to be good for getting "real" sleep, it's very cheap, and not habit-forming. I also recommend the 5 Hour Energy shots over caffiene pills if you've only got to go for 8 hour shifts. I've even taken one at 7 am and gone to bed at 9:30 - much less caffiene, but the B vitamins give you energy and also help your body deal with stress (physical & mental). Hang in there and remember it's just a few months, right?


Did you reach the Bottom of this blog?

If you have read down to here and are interested in reading more, be sure to click here, click on the "Older Posts" link to your right, or use the "Archive" tool on the right sidebar. Thanks for visiting!