I have been on day shift now for almost two weeks after thirteen years supervising a night shift. One of my former colleagues who met me at shift change remarked that I looked more relaxed. Well I suppose so, as now I only have responsibility for my work and my day time colleagues are both experienced dispatchers who work well as a team.
I can get used to this, I thought to myself as my wife met me for lunch on Saturday and we went for a walk on Smathers Beach under threatening skies. I suppose some of the change must seem obvious to people used to being asleep at night but it's not a question of sleeping, rather it's a question of enjoying myself more while I'm NOT sleeping. Odd that but true.
911 calls during the day have proven so far to be rather tame, let me be honest. Few, dare I say none of the callers are drunk and not many people are fist fighting in the middle of the day or engaging in drunken car crashes in peculiar places. On my last week working nights a car driver contrived to flip their vehicle like a turtle in the middle of Truman Avenue in the early hours. How? I don't know but it happened. Daytime call taking is mostly administrative type calls, lost property, car crashes of course always, and stuff that doesn't set the blood coursing through your veins. But after more than a decade of that I find I can handle a lighter load.
For the callers all calls are emergencies, all problems seem insurmountable without police intervention so the good part is that one can still feel useful helping people to unravel apparently intractable problems. But for me, when I am away from the desk and my headphones are back in my locker I live a different life. Dinner at home every night is pleasant. But nowadays my mornings start well before dawn, around 3:45 if its not raining. Rusty and I take off exploring in the dark of the night, back streets, quiet neighborhoods where we travel alone. Then I go home and get ready for work, a quick half hour ride on my scooter along an empty Highway One and I'm settled in to my shift before six o'clock ready to go.
The new schedule means Rusty gets his other walk in the evening when I get home and at the moment that is well before sunset. my daily gym schedule has suffered a bit but I take classes some days after work and on others I use my lunch break to work out on my own. My days off are glorious because I wake up early as normal and have the entire day to devote to myself and my dog and working 12 hour shifts gives me lots of equivalent days off each month. I don't need to sleep half the day to prepare for an afternoon off.
My pictures will change I suspect. Night photography may take a back burner especially in the summer months when days are longer by a couple of hours. But on the whole a change not much appreciated has had the beneficial effect of shaking things up. At last I am settling in to my new hours and I no longer am overcome by unnatural sleepiness mid morning when I was used to being sound asleep most days. I am becoming a day worker and like every change in my life it is merely a matter of adaptation not lamentation.
My new colleagues are pleasant to work with, the struggle to concentrate at three in the morning is in the past and Rusty, who is getting used to my new hours greets me in the driveway every evening as though it's a miracle I'm home. I like that. He sits in my lap unwilling to let me out of his sight.
Change is good. Embrace it. And if I say that believe me I mean it. I don't offer advice and I don't care for trite aphorisms found on coffee mugs and on Facebook. This time I mean it. It has worked for me and I am not exceptional, it will work for you.