The first thing that people ask me when I tell them that I'm working 4&4 at Cominco is "so how are you finding night shift?" I've had to answer this question so many times the past two weeks that I'm thinking of creating amazing stories to tell people around night shift. Something like, we all run around naked and make zinc angels in all of the dust on the floor.
So I've decided to outline the 14 steps of what a typical night shift is like for me.
1) Around 5pm I begin my walk to work. It's an enjoyable 35 minute walk despite the dreaded 280+ step staircase it takes to get up to the Teck parking lot. I always envy the people coming down the steps. Not only have they completed their shift but they are also getting to walk down the steps instead of up them. Bastards.
2) One of the worst parts of the night arrives around 5:35, which is taking off my already hot socks and shoes to put on even hotter work socks and work boots. The oversized coveralls don't help much to lower my body temperature either.
3) 5:40 --> the shift begins. This is when I feel complete defeat because it's really hot on the charge floor and I know that I have 12 hours to endure. The first hour is really quiet.
4) By around 8:30 I am famished. I have no idea why but at the same time every night shift my stomach aches with hunger and all I can think about is my break coming up. Being excited for food is great!
5) 9pm --> Break #1 begins. At this point I always eat a lot of food in a small amount of time even though I have plenty of time to eat it in. I'm just so hungry for some reason. After my gorgefest, I regret eating so much because I still have 9 hours of work to get through and am quite certain that hunger will strike again in the near future. Damn. I decide to ration my food.
6) 10pm --> Back on the floor and back to work. This is when my first wind kicks in. The spurt of energy has mostly to do with the one cup of coffee that I allow myself during my first break, plus the huge amount of glucose surfing through my body from the vast amount of food I just consumed. The next two hours go by quite quickly because the strip lines (the machines that send me zinc) are usually running quite steady and I have to keep up.
7) Midnight --> Break #2 begins. I eat a little more and get some reading done. I try really hard to stay alert and focused. I drink lots of water as well. Drinking lots of water helps to keep me hydrated in the warm work environment but also keeps me alert in the wee hours of the morning because I have to pee so frequently that running to and from the washroom keep me awake! Great trick eh??
8) 1am --> I feel a bit of optimism because I am half way done the shift! The next hour goes by well but around 2am is when the yawns kick in and I start to feel a bit nauseated from being tired. I shake it off by keeping busy moving the zinc around and waving to all of the people on the Electrolytic side. Nice group of guys over there.
9) 3am --> Break #3 begins. At this point it feels like the night may never end. When I enter the lunch room, most of the lights are turned off and at least 4 guys are napping in the chairs. I always contemplate napping as well but am too distracted by the noise from the building and guys coming and going from the room for coffee refills. I try to read some more.
10) 4am --> Back on the floor from my last break gives me hope that the night will eventually end because there is only an hour and 45 minutes to go!! I am usually making tiny stupid little mistakes like bumping the back end of my forklift into walls/stack of zinc and not lifting the forks high enough when picking up the zinc (which in turns results in a large bang against the steel machinery and wakes me up a bit). During my many quick pee breaks I notice that it's becoming light outside and I am saddened a bit that night has come and gone without me even noticing.
11) 5:30am --> Extreme restlessness kicks in because there's only 15 minutes left in my shift and I'm excited.
12) 5:45am --> End of shift. The best part of the shift begins in two steps. The first step is getting to take out my earplugs. It's such a relief to take those out. The second is taking a shower. The showers are amazing because they provide endless hot water and strong pressure for as long as you desire. I always want to stand under the running water forever, but I know that the sooner I am finished then the sooner I can get to bed. Bed always trumps shower.
13) 6am --> The walk home from work. At around 6:01 is when the sun comes up so I am always pleased to be around for that moment. It sucks knowing that I have to go to bed instead of enjoy the morning, but I'm so wiped that I don't have the energy to really mourn the loss. The walk home is slightly dangerous. I don't know what's more dangerous; driving when tired or walking when tired. I figure I'm less likey to harm other people by walking, so it always seems like a good idea to walk. So I fall over into the ditch and take a nap. No harm done, rather that my dignity gets a little bruised.
14) 6:35am --> I arrive home. Change. Brush teeth. Sleep. Ahhhhhhh.
So there you have it. Adrienne's 14 Steps to Night-Shift. I hope you enjoyed this enlightening adventure.