Tag Archives: work

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Based on my new work schedule, I now qualify to be two out of the Seven Dwarfs: Sleepy and Dopey.

The start of my work day recently shifted from 5 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

For someone like me who is naturally a morning person, this was great but the change put sand in my gears – and felt like in my eyes as well.

I have always been an early riser, dating to when I was 13 and delivering The Daily News in the Bronx.

I was thrilled to get a jumpstart on the day and watch the city transition from slumber to wakefulness.

That all changed 2.5 years ago, when I started a job in New York City that required me to work nights.

Instead of getting to bed at 10:30 p.m., I was leaving the office by then or much later, like 12:30 a.m.

The whiplash meant resetting my natural body clock.

On the plus side, commuting home was easy because you could fire a cannon on the highway and not hit anything.

The downside was that in the mornings I would sleepuntil 10 a.m. (if I was successful at fighting the urge not to wake up earlier), and I would almost always feel like I was merely waiting to leave for work in the afternoon.

I felt too restless or time-constrained to get anything useful done.

I no sooner got (somewhat) adjusted to my late hours than my schedule shifted to a 6:30 a.m. start time.

So now instead of getting to bed at 3 a.m., I get up at that hour.

Doing that kind of yo-yoing with your sleep does weird things to your body.

For instance, I am ready to slam back a Red Bull by 9:30 in the morning and by 10:30, I am ready for lunch.

It is also weird that as noon draws near, and most people are getting ready for lunch, I am looking ahead to soon leaving.

It is great that I get to be home with my wife for dinner but now I get to bed around 8:30 p.m., my bedtime when my age was in the single digits!

At my age (closing in on 53), these kinds of adjustments do not come easily. I have as much capacity to bounce back as a deflated basketball.

I lose track of what day it is, time becomes a blur and focusing on details on the job requires even more concentration, which, you guessed it, makes me even more tired.

I need a steady flow of coffee to keep me from face-planting into my keyboard.

I know from friends who pull long days or shifts in the middle of the night the challenges of being sleep-deprived.

I appreciate the importance of sleep for your mental health, regulating blood sugar, rebooting your brain and other functions, but what can you do when this is what your job or life requires?

I’d like to hear your stories of a fractured sleep-work cycle and what happens to you when you get too little sleep. How do you cope? Any insights or remedies to offer?

Write me at amr@aboutmenshow.com.

While I await your emails, I have to wake up and inhale the coffee.

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Marking Labor Day by Recalling the Worst Job in the World

A recent survey listed the worst job in the country, and for the third year in a row, newspaper reporter was at the top — or the bottom, depending on your view — of the list.

As someone who has been in that career for 30 years, I take that kind of news personally.

Yes, the industry has been battered by layoffs and eroding readership and swamped by technological advances, but worst job? No way!

No, that particular title goes to a job I had in high school working for Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips in the Bronx.

I was a fry cook, dining room clean-up staffer and eventually a manager.

There was nothing quite like working with superheated peanut oil, splattered batter and garbage to teach you lessons in humility — and a career path to stay away from!

I would go home at midnight on Fridays — our busiest day of the week — with the stench of oil in my nostrils and a combination of oil and batter matted to my hair. Wearing the cap as part of the uniform did nothing to help.

At the end of each shift, we would run the used oil through a contraption that was part vacuum and part filtering machine.

You would line up the machine beneath the frying vat, open a valve, and the oil, which was still hot, would gush into a holding tank, go through various filters and be discharged through a hose back into the vat.

Peanut oil was very expensive, the owner would constantly remind us, so you would try to extend its life by filtering out the fried crud.

One night as I was running the machine, I felt something burning my toes.

My right shoe was positioned beneath the big metal box of the machine that held the oil.

I looked down and the corner of the box had sprung a small leak, allowing the oil to dribble onto my shoes, burn through them and onto my foot!

That was bad but dealing with the garbage was the worst.

If you worked the shift before the garbage was collected, it meant you had to drag the heavy, dripping, smelly bags to the curb.

And that meant you had to enter a room – yes, a room about the size of a small bedroom – filled floor to ceiling with garbage accumulated over the week.

The room was not vented, but for a drain on the floor. It attracted roaches and waterbugs the size of the ants in “Them!”

I would be so skeeved out!

Clearing the room was easy to start since you could grab the bags closest to the door, but then as the pile thinned, you had to step deeper and deeper into the room.

I would hold my breath and dash in to get the remaining bags.

Ugh.

But you know, upon reflection, I look around me and see jobs that are far worse. Take for instance the sites in New York City.

There are those people who stand with signs or pamphleting for tour buses and nightclubs in all kinds of miserable heat and cold. Or people who work in sewers.

Yikes!

What was the worst job you had? Share your stories.

Write me at amr@aboutmenshow.com and let’s be miserable together.

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Strangest Summer Jobs: Part One

Gimme One With Everything

It was the mid-1980’s and I was working at a summer job.

I was fortunate to have a neighbor who employed me, God rest his soul, who in his retirement started a small business selling hot dogs from a converted laundry truck that grew into a restaurant on wheels.

He would be up way before the sun, cooking bacon and making gallons of fresh coffee. I would meet him at his favorite spot near a major roadway and start my day serving egg sandwiches, buttered rolls and hot coffee to customers traveling to work.

After the morning rush, we would switch to hot dogs, chili dogs, meatballs, soda, and of course, more coffee, as it seemed that was the universal drink of the workingman.

The days consisted of mad rushes serving a line of people stretching down the block to wondering when the next customer would show up.

It was a long day.

You may wonder where we went to the bathroom, especially since we were also constant drinkers of the magical black elixir.

I typically ran up the street to a friendly furniture store that allowed us to use its facilities. The boss never left the truck, which had a sink and running hot water, as per code, but no bathroom accommodations.

One day during a lull, the boss had to relieve himself of some of that coffee he constantly consumed. (I don’t think I ever saw him without that coffee cup in hand.)

He did not think about hoofing it up to the store where I usually went. Instead, he had a special coffee can with a lid he kept under the counter.

We always wore aprons.

He cautiously looked up and down the street making sure no one was headed our way, and proceeded to take that special can, remove the lid and slid it under his apron.

This was a much-practiced action, as he quickly undid his fly and I heard the stream hitting the bottom of the empty can, all behind the veil of that apron.

Without warning, a group of hungry people appeared by the window and I jumped to start serving them.

The boss had been caught by surprise, but he stealthily removed and capped the can, washed his hands and began serving the customers without missing a beat.

I swear I could not figure out how he did this so quickly. I did not notice him go through the motions of putting it back in his pants or zipping up for that matter.

Yet there he was by my side, with a smile, sliding hot dogs into buns and asking if they wanted sauerkraut or onions.

If these people waiting for their lunch to be served only knew…