The Working Day

Shift work is not everyone’s cup of tea. I, however, quite like variety. Which is fortunate, given the nature of my role. If I were to brainstorm words associated with my job, variety would be the first I’d come out with. There are early shifts, late shifts, a few middle shifts and weekends too. But the variety doesn’t stop there. I’m a relief clerk, so I have no fixed place of work. When other clerks along the stretch of line are on holiday, sick or otherwise indisposed, I step in to fill their shoes. This week, I’ve been to several stations along a stretch in the New Forest.

They are all pretty much identical buildings. Like many of the stations along the line, they are pretty old buildings, from the early days of the railway. They have the dates of construction featured in the brickwork. And it forever amuses me that they deemed it necessary to include ‘AD’. Just in case, I suppose, someone were to mix them up with the BC builds.

The video is just a short snapshot of my working environment. I like most of the stations. They are almost museums in their own right. Over the years, staffing has been reduced, in some cases quite dramatically. Nowadays, some stations have morning and afternoon shifts. Some just a few hours in the morning. There is a feeling that the powers that be would like to shutter a fair number of them. That would be a tragedy, in a number of ways. Besides the person who has lost a job, it would be a terrible shame to abandon the concept of human staffing altogether. A man on duty, even if for only a few hours a day, keeps these places alive.

In the depths of winter, it can be dark when I leave for work, and dark when I return. In summer, the opposite. There is a sweet spot twice a year, when it dark when I awake in the morning and when I retire to bed at night. But light when I depart and return. It’s a short lived sweet spot.


5 thoughts on “The Working Day

  1. I not exact;y sure why but I really like the way that you put together this blog. Maybe it is my connection to railroading. Grandfather worked for the railroad as it was being built north from Mexico to the US. So I have a romantic notion about old railroad stations and related things. I hear the train every morning pass not to far from our place in Patzcuaro. But sans passengers. Those were discontinued long ago. Sigh! So I can relate to the shuttering of railroad stations. That you showed us one of this in your video showed more about your work environments. That was great! Thanks for telling us about your workplace. It would seem trite and boring without your telling this story. Thanks.


  2. norm says:

    I worked shifts most of my working life. I did 14 years of “float”, two midnight turns, two day turns and two afternoons . It paid well. I worked an “on call” job in the oil fields, the firm called, you were on until the job was done or they had another job come in. 100 hour weeks were pretty normal. I lasted a few years at that job and decided to go back to university. The iron house called me back to work and I rode that horse to the end of the trail. I finished the degree but degree work and steel work were a wash as far as pay and that 30 years and out with a check every month made up for the difference in working conditions.

    I started with shift work in high school-school until 2 pm, factory until midnight, my last two years of school. Nam was still on, I wanted to have enough to go on a walkabout if it looked like I’d have to go kill people halfway around the world at my government’s behest. Used the cash to buy a hot rod. I’ve been lucky all my life.


    • My first job out of school was shift work. They all have been ever since, bar a couple of years in that insurance firm before I came on the railways. Even teaching English in DF was shift work.

      Unlike you, I’m saving my money to go to Vietnam. These are more peaceful times, and my government would really rather I not shoot anyone. I’ll most likely oblige them.

      But that brings us back to Brexit. The plan is to go at the end of next March, back last few days of that month or first few days of April. As things stand, we’ll leave as EU citizens, and return as Brits. If there’s No Deal, and that worst case scenario comes into play, there’s a big question mark over flights in and out of the UK. This might need thinking over. Small risk, probably. But big consequences.


  3. Nice vid. Particular like the point where the high-tech info board pops out of nowhere and you get this Blade Runner voice telling people not to accidentally kill themselves.
    Maybe our forefathers did it right with the A.D. addition. Who knows, somebody else who is related to God might die and then we’d have to start all over.


    • Alas, those that kill themselves on the railways, and there are hundreds of them each year, rarely do so accidentally. It’s a messy affair for all involved.

      What comes after AD? Logically, one would assume ZE.


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