I often do the math, which consists of how many hours I work, commute, and sleep . . .
At minimum, I work an eight hour day. I work Monday through Friday, 10:30AM—6:30PM. Adding an extra hour, or an hour and one half for commuting time, plus the half-hour for early arrival; my day begins with a 7:00AM departure and I return home somewhere around 7:30 PM.
After which, I clean myself off. Eat something. I unwind, and to the best of my ability, I leave the issues from work where they belong.
So with 24 hours in the day, I am away from my home for almost half. And of the approximate 12 hours I am home, I need to sleep some; however, the luxury of an eight-hour night’s sleep has been gone for a long time.
So . . .
Figuring six hours of sleep, I am awake for the other six hours, but deducting at least two hours for basic hygiene and bathroom functions (I swear I have become exactly like my Old Man when it comes to the bathroom functions with reading material and all) I have, at best, three to four hours of time in my home, which gives me a Monday through Friday balance of approximately 15 hours that I can sit on my couch and relax.
(That’s five days at 24 hours each, which comes to 120 hours, and all I get are 15 of them)
This is an average week without overtime. However, like many others, I need to make ends meet. Like most, I have bills that pile up. I have a home with a mortgage. I pay taxes and insurance. I pay the cable company and complain about the shows they put on—yet I still seem to watch the shows I complain about and I never miss an episode.
Like most, I have mouths to feed. I have backs to clothe, and lives that depend on whether I earn or not. I view these aspects as daily and weekly goals, and without overtime, these goals are not easily met.
Overtime consists of any hour passed the standard eight-hour shift. There are often extra hours during the week—but that changes the math and reduces the hours I have to myself. To survive with less concern, I take extra shifts. I work Saturdays as often as I can and sometimes I work on Sundays too.
Weekend shifts begin at 6:00AM and finishes at 2:00pm. But they often run late.
Sometimes I work an overnight, double-shift, which means I have to sleep on the couch in my shop. It’s lonely and I miss my home. But there is purpose to my lonesomeness and there are benefits in the long run.
The regular two day weekend is 48 hours.
Subtracting 12 hours of sleep at six per night, two for basic hygiene, one to one and one-half hours for bathroom functions, I have the remainder of 33 hours.
In these 33 hours, I need to maintain my head, pay attention to my family. Write some. Eat some. Fix the house some. But take away eight hours for the Saturday shift, plus two hours for commuting, and I am left with 23 hours—this is less than one full day out of seven. I have less than one day to enjoy the home I work for and those that live inside it
My work week is rarely 40 hours.
I spend more time at work than I do at home . . .
And I happen to like my home.
I try my best to laugh while I’m at work.
But not everyone appreciates my sense of humor.
On a few occasions, I have been asked, “Why are you like that?”
“Why are you always joking around?”
I explain it like this:
There are 168 hours in a week. 120 of which are spent going to work, working, and then going home. That’s without overtime, which leaves a remainder of 48 hours. But I always work overtime, so the actual number is much lower.
Plus, I need to sleep, right? And the same as I have responsibilities at work; I have responsibilities at home too, right? This means even my remaining hours to enjoy my life have a schedule of its own.
So if I don’t laugh or joke around – I think I’ll go nuts!
An old friend of mine used to tell me, “Wherever you go, there you are. So do your best to smile.”
“Smiles help,” he would say. “It beats the opposite.”
He would tell me, “And even if the smile is fake, then fake it until you make it.”
I never forgot that.
Not everyone sees life this way. There are those at work that look to take away my smile. And I don’t suppose I am alone with this. Every job has its own gossip factory. At some point, everyone has found themselves caught in the gears of the rumor mills, which churn and spit lies. Everyone has a boss, and everyone has been yelled at.
I don’t always enjoy my job. I hate it sometimes—but it puts food on my table.
And though I am not home often, my family benefits from the hours I work.
After a loud reprimand, someone on the job asked, “How can you smile after something like that?”
I answered, “Because the day ‘They’ steal my smile is the day they stole me.”
And I can’t have that . . .
Not on my watch.
It’s not always easy. The smiling, I mean.
But like an old friend told me, “It beats the opposite.”
And if I can’t smile for real . . . .
then I’ll just have to fake it until I make it.