Sunday, July 12, 2009

Working hard or hardly working?

I remember during my military service I worked a ton of days. Those long days of standing watch sucked! A typical day at sea for us engineering types (people who work in the engine rooms and auxiliary engine rooms) was 18 to 20 hours long. The normal engine room temperatures would run around 120 to 130 degrees.

By the end of your 18 to 20 hour day it came down to a choice..... do I shower and eat, and if so I'll lose about an hour's sleep. Needless to say I'd always take the shower option and only lose about 10 to 15 minutes of sleep.

After I became a civilian I did the usual Monday through Friday 8 hour a day grind which usually turned into a 10 hour day. God I hated that job!!!! Every time Monday rolled around I'd try and think of an excuse I hadn't used before to get out of work. The bad thing was, it was a small business and I only got paid when I worked. There was no such thing as sick time.

After being hired by my first law enforcement agency I had a chance to work day shift, swing shift and graveyard. Day shift was a 5 day, eight hour shift. Swing shift and graveyard were only 4 day, ten hour shifts. So graveyard worked just fine for me. Later on during my career my last agency tried something unheard of and progressive.... the 3 day, twelve hours shifts just for the weekend crews, Awesome! The only drawback was that we would have to work additional hours during the month to even out the hours.

My current agency has a similar schedule, 3 day, twelve hour shifts with no make up time. Having a four day weekend every week is a wonderful balance between work and family.

We keep track of our statistics every month, meaning we count how many citations we've written. Call it what you want, a quota, performance objective, personal goal or what ever else you can think of. Part of this bean counting also includes "shifts worked".

I was not really surprised when I saw the number of "shifts worked". It turned out that I worked approximately 120 days for the year (not including vacation days).

But believe it or not one of my family members beat me out on the number of days worked for the year and they're not even in a public safety profession. That would be my unemployed brother-in-law.

A lot of people probably think this is a pretty great deal and I agree. Even though I have a four day weekend I do get driver's who chose to exercise their constitutional right. This usually means having court one to two days each week (the off-duty court pay is great too!). But once in a while it is nice not to have court and to be able to enjoy the whole four days off.

Someone once told me, "If you love what you do, you'll never work another day in your life."

If that's true, then I haven't "worked" for a very, very long time.


  1. Excellant post, very well said.
    We use the 4 on 4 off, 5 on, 4 off, shifts between A and B platoons. I haven't worked a midnight shift in year's, but will if one of the guys needs it for something special.
    It's great to enjoy your job, actually enjoy going in, getting things done, feeling good about what you are doing.
    I laughed when I noticed your navy days. I was Navy also. Isn't it amazing how many of us " squids" end up on the job!!
    Brother, keep enjoying your work, "bean counting" cites, getting the extra $$ for off duty days, and above all STAY SAFE!!!

  2. We run two teams each for days, evenings and nights. Four tens with a double day usually set up for Friday or Saturday.

    I would be interested in seeing an example of your twelve hour shifts on paper. This has been proposed in the past and the more I consider it, the more I think I like the idea.

    If you could email me a sample calendear, I'd appreciate it.

  3. Husband's department is 4on-4off. 2 days (6a-6p) flippflopped immediately to 2 nights (6p-6a). I was never a huge fan of the schedule just because his 4 days off didn't mesh very well with my traditional weekends.

    He's computer forensics now which means a blessed M-F 8-5, followed by M-TH 8-6, repeat. Sheer heaven! We deserve it though... we're both former Marines and with him a flyer, "regular work days" just didn't happen.

    Peace to you, my Navy brothers.

    Oh, and we were a department of the Navy, you know.

    The MEN'S department

    Badum-bump! :)