Diaries Magazine

Shi(f)t Work

By Torontoemerg

Wanderer over at Lost on the Floor makes a point:

My manager remarked to me that night-shifters tend to, “have a bit of chip on our shoulders, almost like the world owes you something.” Damn right I do. I’m up when most sane and rational people are asleep. I sleep when the rest of the world is doing there thing. If someone is loud, obnoxious when day shift sleeps, they can call the cops. Me? I’m outta luck.

So yes, I have a chip about it. The world wants 24-7 care, a 24-7 society, but does little to accommodate it. One of these needs has to give. Soon.

I don’t do much shift any more, but I just came off three 12 hour nights, and I am whacked, even with the strictly-not-sanctioned-nor-endorsed-by-management two-hour naps breaks taken in the so-called dead hours between 0200 and 0600. So I get it. One of my colleagues, whom the nursing gods have blessed with a D/E line and who probably has not worked past 2300 in ten years, constantly gripes about the night shift nap “perk.” She believes strongly — and will tell anyone in earshot — that the night crew, instead of taking their naps, ought to be doing all the scut work which never seems to be completed on days. Because they’re all lazy and worthless louts, et cetera.

Uh, no. And yeah, the world does owe shift workers something, even it’s the two-hour naps which in any case often can’t be taken because of patient acuity. There’s pretty good evidence that links shift work cardiovascular disease (among other afflictions), not to mention the obvious safety hazard of driving home bleary-eyed. Two hour naps, when you think about it, are pretty poor compensation for decreased life expectancy. And then there’s the usual disruptions to family and social life, sleeping patterns and the general feeling of malaise shift work brings. Obviously shift workers are cranky, and for good reason

So before complaining about the inadequacy/relative worth/attitude of the night shift, shut up. No, really. Shut up.


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