You hear so many people complaining about having to work nights at a job. Myself, I found night shift to be the best! The rest of the station was asleep. I had the radio all to myself, a good book, cup of coffee and I was set.
Every hour or so, depending on the feel of the weather I would take a trip outside and check the engine room, and admire the sky! I was always amazed by the number of stars you could see from a lighthouse, as long as one stayed out of the loom of the main light.
Once my eyes became adapted to the dark, it was like the whole sky was lit up just for me. I used to pick out the constellations – one of my favourites was Orion, the Hunter which loomed large and clear in the sky from SE to SW depending on what time of night it was.
I used to leave the curtains open in my bedroom at night. If I woke before it was time to get up for shift, I would look outside and if Orion was visible, I could tell what time it was by the position in the sky.
When I retired I was still on night shift! I was always in bed early, and awake early. I found it hard to change, as I had spent almost twenty-five (25) years on night shift. Morning shift started at 03:00 (AM) and ended at noon. It was delightful and I hated to change.
Now changing shift that was another thing. Some stations liked changing every week – a horror. Some liked changing monthly – I hated changing at all, but we were required to accommodate other keeper’s requests so if an assistant wanted to change we worked out a shift routine that worked. One of the best was a day on, day off. That’s right, we were on call for twenty-four (24) hours and then could sleep in the next day.
This was not as bad as it sounds. We were only scheduled for an eight hour shift each which left the time from 10 PM to 3AM free, unless we were aroused by stormy weather or a radio call. So, every second day one could sleep in, or get up and go fishing.
If a big project required two keepers, then we both showed up for work. It was a good system. We even arranged it so that every second weekend we had the whole weekend free – a total of three days! It just meant that whoever did the Friday shift worked Saturday as well as their normal shift on Sunday. Because of the odd number of days in a week, this changed weekly. It was not as tiring as it sounds as one could catnap.
So, shift work could be arranged to suit everyone, but I still loved it when a keeper told me “I hate night shift!” I was in heaven.
Now I find out night shift is bad for ones health – Shift workers risking Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Probably true if you are always changing your shifts, but for myself, the nights were mine!
Keep following for more night shift sightings in a later post.
As I have said before, I have now been writing for a few months from down in the Philippines. Below the Equator I figured that I would have to get used to new constellations. What a shock when I saw Orion again in the southern sky, but this time it was lying on it’s side.
The constellation of Orion is also known to southern hemisphere observers as The Saucepan. This is because of it’s up side down orientation in the southern hemisphere. Astro Photography