Sunday, April 17, 2011

Caught Napping

Tammy continues her daily watch of the Decorah Eagles. She was concerned for them this past weekend when some nasty weather rolled in. She was continually checking to see how they were managing. I have to laugh. I can't think of anything online that has captivated her more than these little guys have. Well, possibly me when we first met online 12 years ago. (insert smiley face here)

Yes, winter made another appearance this past weekend with a few inches of snow along with some cold, blustery winds. I had to wonder what the pups were thinking when I let them out Saturday morning. I know what I was thinking. I'm sick of this! But, thankfully this time of year any snow we get is usually very short-lived as was this. Tammy and I were on a walk this morning under a bright blue sky with the snow all but gone.

Hosanna is gearing up for between 15,000-18,000 guests this coming Easter weekend. It places a huge demand on the church as well as the main roads which lead there. I went solo to Palm Sunday services last night as Tammy was busy. She went this morning instead but turned back because it was gridlock trying to get into the parking lot. That sounds like a good problem for the church to have.

It's been a while since air traffic controllers have been so prominent in the national news. Unfortunately, it's for all the wrong reasons this time. A few have been caught napping. It's one thing to close your eyes while on break; that sort of thing happens all the time and isn't an issue. But falling asleep while on position is a whole other matter and it's happened several times in the last few weeks. I've been doing this job for 29 years and have never heard of sleeping on position being an issue. Why now?

I can't speak for other facilities where these incidents are occurring but my guess is they've been left understaffed by a mass exodus of controllers during the "imposed work-rule" days of a few years ago where we lacked a contract. Except for that, I don't see anything in the makeup of the job that has changed recently that would account for the increase in the number of instances of controllers asleep while planes circle overhead waiting for clearance to land. Apparently, the schedules we've been working are not conducive to being well-rested and I get that.

The schedule I work is exactly what they're referring to when they speak of schedules that tax a person's body. Apparently, it's called a "rattler" because it will come back to bite you. I'd never heard it described that way in all my years of working it. I begin my week with two afternoon shifts followed by two day shifts with the last day of the week being a double-shift day where after working the day shift I return again at night to work the all-night shift. It gives me a longer stretch of time off during my weekend and I prefer that. Nobody is forcing me to work these hours; they're what works for me but I do have to be careful to manage my time so I'll be able to sleep when I need to. I really don't consider it a big issue but maybe that's because I've been doing it for so long that I've forgotten how normal people live.

But now it appears we're going to see some changes to our schedules to allow for more time between shifts. I suppose this may help but if a person isn't responsible enough or for whatever reason, unable to sleep prior to returning, there isn't much that can be done. It's the nature of the beast and what we all signed up for.

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