Having worked shifts for almost 10 years now, I do wonder why I still cannot resist the urge to leap out of bed and answer the phone or door in what should technically be the middle of the night. If I could just curb that natural curiosity and ignore whomever is demanding my attention I would be able to roll over and go back to sleep. Problem is, once I open my eyes and get out of bed, there’s no getting back to sleep for me. So why do I only remember this when I am half way down the stairs?

Damn that giddy school girl in me that only remembers the time when Postie brought me presents, and phone calls were friends wanting to chat. These days, Postie just brings me bills, and my phone calls are from someone called ‘Dave’ who speaks English as a 42nd language (he and his friend ‘Sarah’ ring me a lot, I think they must have the wrong number).

I guess if it’s taken me almost ten years to realise all this, then it shouldn’t surprise me that non-shift workers have difficulty understanding the premise of shift work at all, but it does. Many appointment bookings have gone something like this:

Customer Service Rep: “Are you available on the evening of X”

Me: **Checks diary** “No, sorry I am working a night shift on that day.”

Customer Service Rep: “Oh, so you’ll be in during the day?”

Me: “Yes, I will be in during the day. In bed.”

Customer Service Rep: “Well what about around two in the afternoon?”

Me: “Yes, I will be in bed at around two in the afternoon.”

Customer Service Rep: (what-kind-of-a-lazy-good-for-nothing-are-you voice) “You’ll still be in bed at two in the afternoon.?”

Me: “Yes, I will have been working ALL night, I will still be in bed at two in the afternoon. Do you happen to have any appointments at two in the morning?”

**stunned silence**

I am pretty sure that most non-shift workers are convinced that if you work nights, you stay up all day and THEN go to work. Try doing that the other way around. As any working parent of a young child will attest, you can’t keep it up for long without turning into the equivalent of an alcoholic smoker who’s been separated from both their vices for several weeks.