Sunday, December 21, 2003

In case you haven't been paying attention, I work shift work. 12 hour shifts, two days, two nights, four off. If you don't know or don't care what it's like, go and read the instructions on a noodle packet or something. If you are interested, there are only two films I can think of that deal with what it is like.

The first is 'Night Shift' with Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton and that blonde chick from Cheers whose name escapes me for the moment. Never mind, it'll come to me. It's a pretty ordinary film but a bit of a classic. The Fonz and Mr Mom work the night shift at the morgue. Diane from Cheers moves in upstairs from the Fonz. It turns out she is a hooker with a heart of gold, the lads set up an escort agency using the morgue vehicles and resources on the night shift and hilarity ensues. It doesn't really portray night shift all that realistically, probably because Ritchie Cunningham, The Fonz, Batman, Diane Keaton, Babaloo, Ganz, et al, never worked night shift in their lives.

The second is 'Pushing Tin' with John Cusack, Cate Blanchett, Billy-Bob and Angelina. Didn't get very good reviews when it came out, but I liked it. It's about the people who work in air traffic control - not in the tower but on the scopes in a darkened building miles away from any airfields. John and Angelina get it on, which annoys Billy-Bob cos he was married to her at the time. But the most interesting thing is how it portrays working shift work. Anyone who has worked shift work in an office with a bunch of other people can relate to leaving work as the sun is coming up and going out with the boys to have bacon and eggs and a beer when everyone around you is on their way to work. Praying it will rain the day after working night shift cos you know you will sleep better when you get home. Not knowing or caring whether it is Sunday, Monday or New Years Day, cos it makes no difference when you are rostered on. Working with the same people day in, day out, til you get to know them better than their families do. Seeing those same people week after week, month after month, year after year until you are sick of the sight of them, and then on your days off you still go round to their house for a bbq and see the same faces. Even the stock characters are familiar. The overweight, neurotic guy. The female exercise fanatic. The shift manager who has been there forever and doesn't appear agitated no matter what's going on because he's seen it all before. The weird, single, slightly creepy guy who is weird, single and slightly creepy because he's worked night shift so long, or maybe that's why he's been working night shift for so long. The faded, jaded office stud, who was never that great to begin with and still thinks he is twenty five, possible with the remnants of a porno actors moustache. The bloke who sings at 3am, tells jokes and thinks he is funny and entertaining, even though he isn't. That's me.

Shelley Long. I knew it would come to me.


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