For most of my life, I’ve had jobs with very set schedules. Granted, they’ve not always been the best schedules. For example, I worked graveyard shift for 13 years. But at least I could count on when I was coming and going. I could plan my leisure activities and make appointments. I’m someone who thrives on stability and routine.
Several of my coworkers have no set schedule. They fill in for people on vacation, or for those who call in sick. They never know what day or shift or location they’ll be in from one week to the next. They can’t even count on the amount of income they’ll bring in at any given time. That would drive me absolutely nuts.
I’ve seen many people, who are not in their position, display a distressing lack of sympathy for such workers when they hear them complain. To them I say that it’s impossible to understand the situation unless you experience it yourself.
In essence, when you work a flex schedule, you have no life. It’s impossible to maintain a social life under those circumstances. People lose patience when you cancel on them too often. You can’t really make plans. How do you buy non-refundable concert tickets when you can’t even be sure if you’ll have to work? And even if you’re not “officially” on call, you’re never off the clock psychologically. You’re basically a slave to your employer’s whims.
I know a lot of people who work jobs of these types. Nurses, waitresses, security guards, taxi drivers, and the self-employed. It takes an incredible amount of self-discipline, patience, budgeting, and the ability to maintain your sanity on constantly changing sleep schedules.
I admire these people. I am grateful that I don’t count myself among their number. But the next time you are tempted to be dismissive of their hard work, remember that without them, our world would cease to function.
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