My Fitbit vibrates, 2:50 am flashing on its little black and white screen. The same routine starts to transpire: I get up and sit there for a few moments; contemplate the life decision I’ve made; jump in the shower; and pat whichever cat has kindly gotten up to see me off, before heading out the door at exactly 3:30 am.
I realise the main thing you’ve probably taken away from this is the fact that I own a dorky fitness tracker. The excuse I give myself – and now you – is that I don’t want to wake up my fiancé so early with an alarm. I know that doesn’t fly. (Apologies to anyone who thinks fitness trackers are cool. They’re not though.)
Now, when I agreed to become the newsreader on the Kristen and Wilko show at Mix 106.3 a couple of months ago, I have to be honest, I believed in the misconceptions a little bit. Okay, a lot.
I’ll get in at 5:20am and be out by 9.01am. Easier than falling off a log.
I laugh now at my own stupidity. Not only are the hours nothing like that, my life has become somewhat comical. A special breed of people get up and start their day at stupid o’clock, and if you’re one of them you can relate — bakers, firefighters, and escorts I’m talking to you — we live a life weirdly dissimilar to our nine-to-five peers. Not bad, just different.
For example: I’m typing this while sitting in a cafe at one in the afternoon, surrounded by women who I can only guess are in their 70s. When I last checked-in they were discussing a successful morning on the greens. Don’t get me wrong, they seem like a fun bunch of gals, but it’s not exactly how I imagined I’d be spending my twenties.
It’s also surprising how quickly my relationship has hit turmoil too. I should have seen it coming, I mean all the signs were there.
First week on the job:
Fiancé is more than happy to see me off. I’m given a kiss and some positive words of encouragement. Oh, this is love.
Second week on the job:
Fiancé asks me if I can quietly say goodbye from now on. That’s okay, she still loves me.
Third week on the job:
Fiancé demands I’m quieter in the morning as I leave. There’s also the suggestion I sleep in the spare room. Ouch.
One month on the job:
Fiancé threatens to hand back the ring if I even contemplate making a sound in the morning. Shift work is brutal.
I’ve made a pledge, to myself, not to become one of the four in ten Australians who, according to the Sleep Health Foundation, don’t get enough shuteye. That said, do you have any idea how demeaning it is putting your PJs on at the same time as 7-year-olds around the country? I used to laugh at Prime Possum, now I treat that bossy bush marsupial with the respect he deserves. Bloody wise that animal.
Someone told me recently that working in breakfast radio is a little like having constant jet lag, and it’s not far from the truth. I can’t remember most conversations I have during the day. My ample free-time is spent trying to keep focused, whether it’s on the road or talking to my partner. It’s hard to soak anything in. But I wouldn’t change it for a second. Sure, there is pain in feeling like a character out of The Walking Dead but it’s quickly offset by doing a job that I love, and with people I respect.
That said, I have to ask: if you’re a shift worker can you offer any tips on surviving?