It's 1:48 on a Monday morning. And normally I'd be in bed, because normally I'd be getting up around the same time as the Banshees and starting our normal routines of getting chores done (normally through me reminding and them ignoring until I resembles Vesuvius and they are completely bewildered by the smoldering seething frustration that they themselves caused). But I'm up this morning and I'm going to try to stay up another hour. Because I now have paid employment and it's all on nightshift.
6:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. Monday through Friday I work at a little construction site in the desert. There's a solar plant going up there and I'm helping to build it. I don't know technicalities and don't bother me about blueprints. I know the solar towers are tall, more than 400 feet at last rumor. I know the temporary elevator only goes about halfway up. I also know that my permanent workstations all appear to be from the top elevation down to just one floor above where the elevator reaches, and I'm going up and down those stairs. All. Night. Long. Not easy when you're 44 and 110 pounds overweight. I expect to lose weight if I'm out there long enough and put any effort at all into eating healthy.
It isn't a pleasant feeling workplace. I don't say that because it's hard physical work; I don't mind hard physical work and that's a good thing, because Boilermaking has its fair share of the physical. And I don't say it because I'm 400+ feet in the air on a building that's only partially built. It's built enough that I feel safe doing what I'm doing. No, these feeling of unease are entirely about the people and the psychological subcurrents that are pushing me hither and yon. I know that being out of paid employment for 14 years has left me a little rusty in more than one area of my job. I just get the feeling that ain't no one out here can be trusted not to stab me in the back the first opportunity that comes up. The GF seems to think that the job could be finished in the next 48 hours if only people would understand where he's coming from. The rest of us think that X needs to be finished before Y can be tackled, having all the materials and supplies in place to do the job would come in handy, and having an opposite shift that isn't spending 10 hours undoing what you've just spent 10 hours putting up would be just peachy, thanks. Also, he isn't willing to pull anyone aside and say, "Here's what I saw, could you put it in perspective for me?" He walks around in a perpetual state of faith that people are trying to screw him over, every incident is viewed from the worst possible angle, and explanations are not needed, not wanted, and I get the feeling that they aren't even close to being believed.
So the job culture sucks. And I don't know how long I'll be employed. I'm just going to work as hard and as smart as possible and leave the politics to those who can actually do anything about them. The work is interesting, I'm going to learn as much as I can about it and do the best job I'm capable of doing. The paychecks are fat and after a couple of months, if I'm there that long, my household won't have that haunting look of gnawing, chronic need. Jobs aren't always mentally comfortable or compatible. Being a grownup means you do the best you can at them anyway.
Working out of town gives me a strange, surreal feeling of division. When I'm there, I'm there. I'm there to work, I have duties pre and post shift that have to be taken care of, and I'm getting my routine together of when to wake up, when to go to sleep, when to shower, when to shop, when to get ready to start it all over again. There's a lot of silence, which I'm very out of practice in dealing with, but not a lot of thinking deep thoughts quite yet. I'm still working through the silence. It isn't so different from when I was working for a paycheck the last time, although the pressure of being the sole breadwinner is no longer there. We need the money so very badly, but it's to get the debt-load under control and to take the pressure off of the steady income-generator. There is still pressure, because of the long-standing bills, the long-deferred house maintenance, the repair projects and the homeschooling expenses and the other bills and expenses that have been too long denied because there simply wasn't the funding for them.
When I'm home, it isn't the same routine as before I began my employment. The spouse and the Banshees are growing into their new lives, lives that don't have me in them full-time. The first weekend the children dropped the ball on everything, as if my very presence negated the need for them to lift a finger. I think it was an effort to make things the way that they used to be. How dismaying to learn that the old ways weren't ever making an appearance again! I'm home just long enough to want to stay forever, and then I have to pick up and go back to the out-of-town job that keeps me five days out of the week. There isn't enough time to get done what I want. I'm starting my own honeydo list and figuring out priorities. The poultry runs need to be done. There are D&D games that I've promised the munchkins. There are shoes to buy for children whose feet become two inches too long for their footwear overnight. There are hugs to give, reassurances to repeat, yes, I'm coming home; yes, I'll be safe.
I like the paycheck. I like the work. But it's clear as glass that the real reasons I am out there at all are all at home, waiting for me to join them every weekend. I work so I can live. It has never been a question of being the other way around.