A night shift adventure, or, my week of being sick but dancy.

I was going to do a topic from the list, but instead I just need to give you a little summary of my week. I told you a bit about it already. But I just want to lay it out because it was a ridiculous week.

As you know, they put me on to night shift again, which is kind of sucky. But in retrospect it is not as bad as where I am going next week. Back to the sawmill basement and the rotten sawdust, hooray. Anyways, back to last week. I was not trained on night shift work (not technically anyways, I spent a couple days on it back in the summer, but I was with someone who mostly knew what they were doing) and the regular night shift guy is on a different shift and doesn’t come in until Wednesday. When I pointed that out to management they got a little bit flustered. The next day I got a call from the Superintendent asking what I had been trained on and then he told me to work the shift anyways because the only day I would really be on my own would be Sunday night. On Monday the afternoon shift would be there when I got there. He was like, “Just sweep some floors and don’t go in anywhere you have to lock out.”

Skip ahead to Sunday. I woke up with that scratchy throat feeling. I don’t know if you get that before you get sick. But for me there is a specific dry, scratchy throat feeling that is basically a guarantee that I am coming down with a doozy of a cold. I tired to sleep in the afternoon, but I could not at all.

I was not sick enough to call in. Also the whole thing where I kind of put up a fight about going on the shift and multiple bosses knew that I DID NOT want to be on night shift. Kind of made calling in a bad move, even if I was sick. Luckily there is a bus that runs for that shift, so I didn’t have to drive out (small silver lining). They dropped me off at the planer just before midnight and the parking lot was completely empty. I was literally the only one there.

I sat in the lunchroom until my shift started. Then got my stuff and went for a walk to see what was up and where I should start. I didn’t see anyone, I knew there was at least one planerman on the shift at some point, but everything was looking pretty empty. So of course I thought what every normal person thinks when they are alone in a empty planer mill at midnight on a Sunday night: DANCE PARTY!

I already told you this part cause it’s hilarious. But it’s the next part of the overall story. So there I was, music blaring, dancing/walking through the planer. I took a detour through the warehouse and who should be there sleepily putting his boots on but the nightshift planerman. I’m not sure he even noticed really. He looked pretty tired.

What followed was a shift of half dancing half sweeping. The dancing was a bit on the conservative side as I was keeping an eye out for the planerman who came and went most of the night. I didn’t really fancy what I figured would be a pretty awkward and embarrassing encounter for me if he were to come across me really rocking out.

I managed to stay on that weird ‘I’m kind of sick but not too bad yet and also I haven’t slept in almost 24 hours’ high for basically the whole night. I had just downloaded the new Chainsmokers song before work and I was GOOD TO GO. For about 6 hours anyways. But the end of the shift I was feeling like a giant pile of trash. My throat was sore and my neck/throat felt swollen and my head was aching. I almost told the day shift boss to expect me to call in that night. When I got on the bus in the morning I instantly fell asleep. You know that awkward car sleeping where your head collapses at a weird angle and your neck is killing you when you wake up? Yeah, it was like that. My head was like lead and I could not pick it back up.

I got home and literally slept all day. Literally all day. And I woke up in the evening feeling kind of alright and not sick enough to call in. And thus began a week long pattern. Feel good around midnight, get to work and rockout while I worked alone. Feel like garbage when the sun comes up and it is time to go home. Collapse into heavy headed, sore neck car sleeping in the van. Get home and sleep all day. Wake up and feel not sick enough to call in.

That makes it sound like it was a horrible week, but it actually wasn’t that bad. It was kind of nice getting to do my own thing and not be on production for a week. Also, after working 10.5 hour shifts, 8 hour shifts go by SO FAST. It was also very nice having at least 3.5 hours every night where it was only me and one or two others. It would have been nicer if I hadn’t been sick, but it was still alright.

On my second to last shift the nightshift planerman couldn’t make it to work because there was a car accident on the edge of Fernie that shut down a bridge for a few hours. I was super jealous. But that’s not the point, the point is that it meant the afternoon shift planerman stayed late. I was talking with him (we were on the same shift all the time when I worked at the mill before I went to Australia) and I asked him to do me a favour. I asked if the next day (Thursday) he would break something that would need to be welded on night shift. That way the nightshift planerman would need fire watch and I would get an easy last night. He said no, obviously. He also told me that one of the other cleanup people would probably bump me out if there was fire watch (hooray for a seniority based system).

I am telling you about this conversation because it makes the events of the next night slightly greater. When I got to my first break on the next night I came to the lunchroom into a conversation between the other cleanup guy and the nightshift planerman. They were talking about how there was a welding job that needed to be done in the between shift downtime and how I could do fire watch. It was the greatest moment of my life. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it was a great moment. You know how nothing ever works out the way you want it to in your mind.

A little while later the afternoon shift supervisor came in and asked about the job. The nightshift planerman said he was going to take me to do fire watch (he actually said, “I’m going to take smiles over there” because, as stated above, I was in shock that my dream scenario was playing out and it was the straight up middle of the night) and the supervisor was like, “I don’t know if she can do it, there are some people coming in to do OT cleanup who have more seniority than her so they’ll probably take the fire watch.” The nightshift planerman was like, “Fire watch isn’t a bid job, they can’t take it. I’m going to take her.” And the supervisor was like, “Well, I mean, they can take it if they want to. I guess just don’t advertise that your taking her for the job.” And they both looked at me and were like, “Did you get that? Is that all good with you?” And I was like, “Yup, I just won’t tell them where I’m going and wait until they are working.” Then I went and found the other clean up guy and told him not to tell the OT guys that I was doing a fire watch job. And that is the story of how we launched a scheme to get me out of cleanup. A small and unimpressive scheme, but a scheme nonetheless. I sat there in the lunchroom with everyone while they talked about the cleanup jobs they were doing. I waited until they got ready to go and then snuck out the side door.

The funny thing is that the welding job took about 5 minutes. Maybe 10 if you count set up and take down. But company rules are that there needs to be continuous fire watch for a full hour after the hot work is done. So I did get to sit by myself on the floor by the sorter for an hour, so it was still a win.

When I finished on Friday morning, I once again fell into a completely comatose sleep on the bus. But when I got home I wasn’t feeling super tired so I decided that instead of sleeping a few hours and then having to force myself to wake up so that I could sleep again that night I would just stay awake all day. I know, great idea for a sick person. But I wasn’t feeling that sick. I figured I would go to bed early and then wake up early on Saturday and have a full and fully rested day. When I went to sleep it was about 9pm and I had been awake for at least a full 24 hours. You know when you sleep like you are dead? Like no movement whatsoever. And none of that in and out of sleep cycle stuff where you kind of wake up and then fall back to sleep. Well, I slept like that for 15 hours. I didn’t even move until noon today.

That is my story. If you want a soundtrack for this story, go with Paris by the Chainsmokers and Starboy by the Weeknd. I think I listened to those songs at least 50 times each over the course of the week.


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