Shift Work

Dan

There are many careers that involve shiftwork. My husband Dan, works in the pipe mill of a steel plant that runs twenty-four seven. Currently they are working a five on four off/ four on five off mix of day and night twelve hour hour shifts. Shiftwork is never ideal but it has it’s benefits and it has definite challenges. Some of my thoughts, based on our experiences:

1) Shiftwork is brutal when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Your body is constantly trying to adjust to changes in routine. Eating, sleeping, lack of sunlight, too much sunlight – it is all hard on a body! In a steel plant, you have the additional challenges of air quality, noise, temperature control and dangerous work conditions.

2) Shiftwork can be a major strain on a relationship – especially if your partner works conflicting shifts or has a regular Monday to Friday 8 to 5 career. In our case, that has been a bit of a bonus. Our time together, day or night, is so random and rare, that twenty years in we still very much appreciate our time together and look forward to our retirement years together. There are, however, a lot of relationships that do not make it.

3) Shiftwork makes meal planning difficult to impossible. When I am working, Dan leaves for nightshifts before I get home from work. When I am home, we eat supper by 3:30 in the afternoon so we are not particularly hungry but are both snacking later in the evening. When Dan works days, I come home, make supper and wait hours before he comes home and is ready to eat. By the time we finish supper and clean up, our evening is over.

4) We have never had the challenge of raising a young family together but it has to be hard on both parents and the children. It is even harder raising children if the parents are not living together. A major change in shifts at Dan’s plant lately was a legal and logistical nightmare for many parents.

5) There are a few bonuses to shiftwork – Dan can handle vehicle repair and medical appointments and the like on his mid-week days off, there is almost always someone home with our dog, Dan can get peak golf times during the week when he is on days off, I come home to fresh cooked meals on Dan’s week days off (definitely a bonus as he is a great cook), and when he is off shift, he does have four or five days in a row to rest and recover. This will be especially nice once I retire and we can use such times to take short trips and get out of the city.

6) Workers who work shiftwork tend to have a special bond with their fellow workers (in a survivor mentality/shared pain type of way). They also tend to have an intense passion and dedication for the work that they do.

Overall, shiftwork can be challenging for a worker, their partner and their family. Like anything else, it takes work and it has it’s rewards!

The Psychology of (my) Retirement

In less than six months I will be retired. I was so excited about the possibilities when I made my decision to embark on this new phase of my life. My family and friends supported me. It was all good!

Somehow the closer I get, the harder this has been getting. Retirement has not been looking that promising. Finally, in total frustration, I sat down and wrote a blog about my current struggles. I put it all out there. (Well most of it). I hit publish and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I suddenly realized what I was really struggling with.

For the past five decades, I have been in the enviable position of being a ‘caregiver’. I have had the physical, mental, emotional and financial ability to help and support others – husbands, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, employers, co-workers, friends and the occasional stranger. Now, I am suddenly planning for a life where my main focus is caring for me. It never occurred to me that such a change in focus would be a problem for me, much less others – especially those who I have done the most for over the years.

There are probably a lot of people who come up against these mental struggles when they are planning or kicking off their retirement. I wonder why nobody talks about them. πŸ™„

Jen & Danny with friend Dave. (Almost familyπŸ˜‚)
My Mother and I
Grandbaby Cason
Co-worker Kori
My Husband with Maddy & Prim
Mark & Erin and Dom

Own It

I have been working for over five decades now and have decided to share some thoughts on problem resolution in the workplace (or in life in general). There seems to be a need these daysπŸ™‚

The most successful and effective people I have known are the ones who recognize an issue, give it some serious consideration, and deal with it.

There are several ineffective ways to deal with an issue and I am pretty sure I have seen them all.

1. Blame someone else – This does nothing to address the issue and abdicates any power one has to deal with the issue. If you are absolutely responsible for causing an issue and you try to blame others, it will be obvious. 😐

2. Make excuses – Nobody cares and it does not resolve the issue. You may have to explain how the issue arose but that must be followed by a resolution or at least a commitment to find a resolution to the issue. πŸ‘

3. Ignore the issue and expect it to go away. If it is your issue to address, it will not go away. It certainly will not go away without causing further damage. If there is truly nothing you can do to address an issue, you can still choose an effective way to react to it. πŸ™‚

4. Allowing yourself to be the helpless victim. It is all there. Victims are helpless. Even if you were totally innocent and have been hurt deliberately in the worst possible way by someone, do not allow yourself to be victimized. Even if the only thing you can do is work on resolving your own pain and suffering, do that. If you wait for someone else to resolve a situation or repair the damage it has done to you, it will never happen.

Acting the helpless victim at work is particularly non-helpful. Employers, employees, co-workers, customers, suppliers and other business contacts are looking for you to be competent and effective. If you are looking to succeed in your position, that is the face you need to show. πŸ™‚

5. Lie, cheat or steal. Any negative response to an issue is not going to have a positive result – ever! πŸ™

6. Act oblivious and clueless. Seriously, is that how you want people to see you? If you want to be treated as a professional, act like one. πŸ€”

7. Scream, swear, throw things, kick things. None are mature. None are helpful. None are professional. 🀯

8. Avoid the issue. If there is work to be done, or an issue to be addressed just do it. This is not the time to take a week off.

One final thought. Accept that some situations are hopeless. If there are ongoing issues that you do not have the power or authority to deal with, work towards a viable exit plan. There are options but think them through and ensure you are not leaving one bad situation for another.

It’s What I Do …. for now

Retirement is coming. Some days it seems like it will never get here and other days it seems like the weeks are flying by. In 245 days I will be retired. In reality, I only have another 144 days left, after deducting for Christmas break, our trip to Costa Rica, weekends and stat holidays. Considering how far I have come, I am darn close to the finish line.

For anyone who is interested, I thought I would share a few pictures of a few of the products I have been selling for the past fifteen years.

Residential Sales – Railcraft Railing and Duradek vinyl decking – back in my residential sales days.
On to Commercial Sales – Insulated Shutters that we installed in a building the size of seven football fields.
Acrovyn Wall Protection. Miles and miles of handrail, crashrail, corner guards and sheet material.
Corflex Operable walls – We are the go to company for operable walls in Saskatchewan.
Cubicle Track and Privacy Curtains for Health Facilities
Corflex Accordion Doors – popular in schools and church halls
Corflex Acoustic Glasswalls are getting more and more popular as high-end companies and public facilities increase the use of flex space.
Security Grilles, used most often in malls, but sometimes used to beef up entrances to banks, pharmacies, jewellery stores and the like.
Sopers Washbay Curtains – just one of many areas that we did in a huge facility.
Hockey Nets to maximize ice space and safety for hockey practiceπŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Toolboards specially designed by my boss for a massive, modern autobody shop in Regina. (Some professional engineering required!)

We carry several more products – foot grilles, aluminum shutters, rolling grilles, access hatches, and industrial ladders just to name a few.

A lot of our sales come from tendered projects but we do a fair amount of aftermarket, designbuild, and retail sales. In my mind, the thing to remember is “every sale matters“. I have sold 50 curtain carriers and had clients come back to buy thousands of dollars worth of curtains. Regardless of the contract or the sale, do it right. Every sale is an opportunity to gain a loyal customer. Really, it is that easy.