As 20-somethings start out in a less-than-friendly economy, plenty choose jobs outside of the typical 9-to-5 workday.
My first job was the second shift at a newspaper in Carlisle — 3:30 p.m. to midnight. I have a marketing friend in New York City who starts early and often stays in the office until 8 p.m. or later. A woman I volunteer with at church worked the second shift and her husband the third, until she had a baby and chose to stay at home.
Sometimes, we choose different hours because they work better for us. Sometimes, it’s a requirement of the job.
Which is how I found myself walking up at 4:30 a.m. last Friday and heading to work for a 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. workday. Thoughts went something like this:
4:34 a.m. — It is the middle of the night.
4:39 a.m. — Aghhhh.
5:02 a.m. — It’s 5:02. Hey guys, it’s 5:02. I’m awake. At 5:02. In the morning.
5:32 a.m. — Hey, creepy guy walking past me on the sidewalk. I’m just going to get into my car. Please don’t kill me. Don’t be a murderer.
5:40 a.m. — Best parking spot ever! And I hit all the green lights.
7:48 a.m. — Is it time for lunch? I feel like we should be eating lunch. How early is too early for lunch, guys? Serious question.
9 a.m. — Six cups of coffee on a fairly empty stomach might have been the worst idea ever. Peanut butter and bread have never tasted so good. Do my co-workers hate me for crunching on this apple?
10:46 a.m. — I think I’m dying. I think this is what death feels like.
1 p.m. — I AM SO GLAD I GET TO LEAVE EARLY AND TAKE A NAP.
3:02 p.m. — No, older gentleman, you go right ahead and change the TV above our treadmills to golf. Nothing I love more than walking and getting nowhere while watching a sport that moves slower than a sloth. This is totally just as great as my 8 a.m. class.
3:40 p.m. — Being done with work before 6 p.m. is so convenient. Yes, ticket-seller at the York Revolution ticket office, I will avoid those service fees by coming in and purchasing in person. Voila!
4 p.m. — It’s 4 p.m. I can paint my toenails. I can catch up on the episode of “Glee” I missed last night because I had to go to bed at 9 p.m. I can drink hot chocolate. This is kind of awesome.
You can tell, I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the earlier shift. It’s a strange adjustment to wake up at a time when, just a few years ago, you were coming in from the bars and heading to bed. (Daylight saving time, by the way, does not help.)
But the earlier shift exposes me to duties in the newsroom I’ve never done before, and that provides a great learning opportunity. It makes work newly exciting, and certainly different. Waking up at 4:30? Just a big, fabulous bonus.
Have you taken on nontraditional work hours in your career? How did you adjust to an earlier, later or overnight shift? Leave a comment and share your story.