Saturday, April 7, 2018

Long Week, Short Week

By a quirk of fate whereby the city of Key West starts its pay period on a Monday my work schedule is seriously topsy turvy. And it's so complicated is my work schedule that I cannot easily explain it nor would you remember it if I laid it out for you on paper. The outcome is that one week I work many days and the next I work few. It is very odd and sometimes satisfying.
Eisenhower Drive. No more signs of hurricane damage.
I measure my weeks from Saturday to Saturday and on my "Long Week" starting today I only get Wednesday night off in the next period into the next Saturday. And then when the other shift takes up the slack I in turn will only work Wednesday and a brief four hour shift on Tuesday. One week on and one week almost off. It is an odd way of work but I have grown to enjoy both the hours spent working and those afternoons spent at home alone with my dog.
I have discussed this with my colleagues and we agree that going back to a normal 9 to 5  job five days a week would be difficult. My wife likes the schedule as paradoxically she figures we get more time together than if I worked day shift. Twelve hour shifts can seem daunting but every other weekend, assuming we are properly staffed more or less, I am off work from 6 am Saturday to 10 pm Tuesday when I go in for a short four hour shift followed by a full shift 6 pm to 6 am Wednesday night. As we work 12 hour shifts we have to tack on a  four shift to our three 12 hour shifts to make a forty hour work week Monday through Sunday. I told you it was complicated. Alpha and Bravo night shifts each work four hour shifts on every Tuesday night. I have been working this schedule for  about 12 years so what seems bizarre for most I accept  as normal.
Dispatchers in Key West live a work life between two worlds. We are civilian office workers hired by the city and represented by Teamsters. We work similar shifts to sworn police officers who are represented by a  police union and are something other than mere city workers. Yet we dispatchers share the peculiar nature of police work with the police. We deal with the paperwork of law enforcement and we are trained to talk to criminals and victims and witnesses and we handle the silent mayhem of the worst parts of modern life, suicides, thefts,cruelty anger and alcoholism. I have three years left before retirement and I look forward to not spending my waking hours dealing with these horrors. It strikes me as rather odd to imagine people working who don't think about these things while at work. For me it's just what you do...
Officers came by last week and passed on a bag of cookies donated by a local business. Lovely but the cookies were dropped off in a  bio-hazard disposal bag. It's the sort of bag bloody evidence or discarded body parts might be stored in prior to incineration. There was a moment where I stared at the bag but the chocolate chip cookies were delicious and Nick and I both enjoyed them thoroughly.  Anybody else might have had a surplus supermarket plastic bag in their car to haul found treasures. Police officers don't. 
We are getting updated active shooter training soon. I hope I never have to use it. It is a measure of how messed up things are -across the world not just here at home -  that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that something like that could happen here, outside the orbit of big cities and big crimes. Every day I am glad for this job that keeps me in Key West and pays me well enough that I don't work about health insurance or pensions or holding down a second job. And yes I expect to be here during all of hurricane season hoping that the more likely scenario, a major storm doesn't feel the need to land here this year. I worry about that  a lot more than a mass shooting, but .