I could get used to this. Between Easter, May Day, and Whitsun bank holidays, and a couple of actual days of holiday, I am currently in the middle of a seven-week spell when six of the seven weeks are only four days long. If I spread my holiday very thinly, I could get through most of the year like this, though it would mean that I wouldn’t get anything more than a long weekend. But it might be worth the price, simply to avoid the sheer hell which is Monday mornings.
This is especially true when you’re on the early shift. For reasons too historical to go in to, someone at work decided it would be a good idea if there was someone in the office to deal with queries from 7 a.m. — even if I’d have said that anyone dumb enough to be in work at that hour deserved whatever problems they might get. For a long time, I managed to avoid this particular honour, but just after Christmas, due to a (somewhat unsurprising) “staff shortage”, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, onto the rota.
I am not a morning person. In fact, I amn’t really an afternoon person either, and only really start to perk up at, oh, whatever time I get to go home. But it’s true to say that 7 a.m. is, as far as I’m concerned, an infernal hour at which everyone should still be curled up in bed having pleasant dreams about…well, never you mind, but you get the drift. The problem is that as the week goes on, and you get further and further behind in sleep terms (for really, who wants to go to bed at 9:30 pm?), you start to resemble an extra from ‘Carnival of Souls’. You finally reach Friday, and your mind can think of nothing more exciting than moist towelettes.
There are, admittedly, a couple of plusses. 95% of the time, nothing goes wrong, and you are left to your own devices — let’s just say that one week in four sees significantly more progress on the next issue of TC. It is probably also a good job that things are so quiet, since while my body may be in the office, my brain at that time of day is still curled up in bed having the aforementioned pleasant dreams. On a good day, I don’t actually hit consciousness till lunchtime — by which point, it’s almost time to go home, since the nominal hours are 7 a.m till 3 p.m.
Except, of course, the standard pattern is to skip lunch and piss off home at 2 o’clock. Ah, sorry, we’re not allowed to do that. What we are allowed to do, however, is to take our lunch at 2 — and no-one seems to mind whether you come back or not. It’s a small, bureaucratic device that fools no-one at all, but if it oils the wheels of life a little bit, hey, who cares.
Despite this, being on earlies sucks, and is a major reason why, when I was offered the chance to move to another area of the department — one that works far more civilised hours, my response time could be measured using the lifespan of some of the shorter-lived subatomic particles. I thus have only one more week of crawling from bed while larks are still snoozing, before I can (hopefully) leave it all behind me for ever. Let’s just hope that’s enough time to get the rest of TC sorted out…