Category Archives: Alaska

Unexpected

In a season that catches by surprise, I’ve come to anticipate the unexpected.

Four kids fill this house and this calendar and these rooms…

and the minds and the lives and the hearts of their parents.

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Critters live and critters die, and sometimes it comes by way of sudden chirping from the woods when a nest of nine stumbles and weaves behind mama turkey, and sometimes it comes by way of the quiet death of a loud guinea or the noble fight and fall of a beloved pony.

“Moment by moment” round here is never an exaggeration.

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But what’s never expected is the cold stare from one who was once a warm friend.

What catches by surprise and catches in the throat are the words stuck that stream through quiet moments and that are outlined with bold strokes of anger and frustration but mostly just scream Why?? When?? I thought we were friends??

And a rejection like that can make a mama pull in and pull close and focus on just the ones around her, the ones she knows for sure love her.

Making friends never gets easier does it?

And down deep, isn’t there always that little girl who lives inside of us? That first grader in a room full of new classmates who’s standing there awkward when she realizes she’s tied the back of her dress up into her waistband while she shifts from foot to foot at the front of the classroom with her underwear and tights all exposed to the world?

Don’t the bruises get blacker when a soul gets older?

Unexpected.

And when the demands are so great a big gal feels small and sometimes has a hard time breathing let alone doing anything extra, a mama can only just bear down and push through the cramp and know she’s doing what she was meant to do in this moment: deliver these babies out into the world.

She’ll keep pushing and she’ll keep grunting and she’ll try not to swear even though she might yell out during the especially hard parts.

She didn’t know it’d be like this over a dozen years after they were born.

Unexpected.

And sometimes just the day to day can be enough to make us keep things shy and reserved and holding the heart close to the chest and the real feelings tight in the pocket.

Enough of the keeping it tight can make us keep it closed and before we know it, we’ve holed ourselves up while we tell ourselves we’re just in a quiet season of bearing down.

And then the real unexpected…

The exceptional unexpected.

The beautiful unexpected.

The unexpected gift of the unexpected time of an unexpected dinner with a couple from church, two souls just ahead on the sidewalk, and all the unexpected tears and laughter that come from that kind of unexpected encounter.

How the path we’re walking is so very familiar to them.

How the struggles we wrestle are ones they’ve conquered.

How the unexpected keeps on into the empty nest years.

How the unexpected keeps on…

My heart carries the day this month that we drove to the place where we sailed to the spot…

that gate where three seas meet, -just past the sanctuary for mariners- and the wind blew fierce and the waves pounded hard and how could I not feel God hold me there in that spot where warm tears of praise slipped down cold cheeks of wonder?

Unexpected.

The whales of September came by surprise and Native founders sailed those waters on kayaks and I sailed them with my children who stood bravely against the gusts and they braced themselves to the threat and they laughed into the wind because they are young and they trust their father and their mother, but they especially trust the One who made the skies.

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The joy we’ve had this month can be lost in the hard of this month and the hard of lost friendship and the hard of this life…

but when I focus on the good…when I fix my eyes on the pure…the hard isn’t so hard and the good is pure joy.

The unexpected moments from the unexpected trip that grew my babies and grew my mama and that grew me.

The unexpected victories that taught us that sometimes a person will win when they practice hard but that sometimes even hard practice won’t win, and that that’s okay too.

The unexpected setbacks that taught us that sometimes a plan needs a bit more time and a bit more stitching before it becomes a whole quilt.

The unexpected friends that came with what could’ve been a tight and tough competition but instead turned into a tight and tender time.

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All the unexpected.

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How the unexpected keeps on…

And then, just as a mama might start to come out of her September shell and decide rejection won’t keep her because she’s already accepted by the One who made her and Who holds her…

a routine night at church brings the unexpected, a gift, a sweet out-of-the-blue message and warm watery eyes from a new friend who is trailing just behind on the parenting sidewalk, and she might think it a small gift…

but it is bigger than that.

It makes me think of you she tells me.

And I tear up some because I don’t know her that well yet but still she thought of me, and by thinking of me she didn’t reject me, and by not rejecting me she reminds me that even when the world is cold and some people are cold, we really are each other’s keeper and we needn’t be cold back because if we are…if we close ourselves off and make ourselves cold…

we won’t ever make this planet warmer.

How the unexpected keeps on…

So I squeeze her once because her gift is so precious.

I stare at it for a second and see how perfect it is and how sweet the words are, and she smiles and I smile and then I squeeze her again because I’m so touched at her gift and how it is straight from her heart.

And so very unexpected.

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I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
And God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
~Big Daddy Weave

North to Alaska

Our July is usually so busy I want to run away when I get to the end of it.

I’m totally overwhelmed, drained of energy, and ready to up and move to a place where there are no farm animals, no fishermen, no motor homes, and no boats.

But every July, on the 27th, I remember…

I chose this place!

It was nineteen years ago today that I rolled into this amazing place that became my new home.

It had been a boyhood dream of my husband’s to move here after high school with his best friend, but meeting me changed all of that.

When, years into our relationship, he told me of his past plans, I chastised him for not telling me sooner and told him I would’ve gone with him.

Thus began the planning and the saving and the letter writing with his friend, who’d long since settled in the land the two of them had talked of.

And when his friend came back for a visit and his folks were planning a haul of goods up the AlCan, we took our dreams and we hit our knees and we asked if now, right now might be the time.

Those good folks were thrilled to have another driver and they packed their goods and they packed my husband and I sent our valuables in the valuable trunk he’d built on our first Christmas. His Daddy shook his hand and told him he always had a home to come back to and we all stood and waved goodbye as the tooley fog lifted off the cornfield that June morning.

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I talked to him every night, but one afternoon he called in the middle of the day and a call at work meant something big and the big thing was a job and a job was the go ahead for me to give up the steady paycheck that tied us to somewhere secure.

I hung up the phone and went to my boss and gave her my two weeks’ notice and that night I started selling all that was left of our stuff.

I was Alaska bound. Even though he was already there, WE were officially Alaska bound.

On a humid July morning, my mom and I rolled out of the only state I’d ever lived in with my big brown dog and my little tranquilized cat and all I owned on the top of my red four-door sedan.

We rolled into Alaska six days later, and on the night of the 27th, when I’d made it to our new town and stopped at the first gas station I found for a pack of cigarettes and a Diet Coke, I knew I was home. I knew I would never want to leave this place.

And I haven’t.

Oh we’ve flown out a few times for family trips and the occasional vacation, but this place is a place that holds a person. When we think of how much easier it’d be in the Lower 48, how much more affordable it is in other places, how many more people there are for our kids to know…

…we come back to the fact that we’d have to leave Alaska.

I lost the cigarettes and my ability to drive in big cities and freeways.

But I found the Lord.

We came up not knowing one another that well.

But we wrestled our way into being best friends.

The two of us didn’t have any furniture.

But now we have a house full of it because we have all these kids.

We only knew one family and held them close.

But now we know many families who hold US close.

Nineteen years.

Not long at all.

And when I look at my calendar and the crazy amount of writing on all the squares this month, my eyes fall to today’s and I remember that I really don’t want to run away. I already did that nineteen years ago and every day since…

I’m home.

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I am Woman. I Bought a Gun.

I bought a gun today.

I took my ten-year old daughter with me.

When I learned that my trusty old revolver -the one I am comfortable with, the one that has few moving parts, the one that fits my hand just right- well, when I learned that it might not be the best gun for a woman to become too comfortable with, and that the instructor of the class I’d signed up for wasn’t excited about having me use it over a semi-auto…

I looked down at my sweet daughter, -patient and holding Mama’s cell phone and keys at the gun counter- and I decided that I’d move out of my comfort zone just like my girl does all the time with her many 4-H projects.

I decided to follow her example and step out of my box and push myself to learn-by-doing just like any good 4-H’er knows is the very best way of starting something new.

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So I bought a gun.

I bought a gun without even talking to my husband, or consulting any other man, (unless you count my pal, my husband’s handsome lifelong friend who happened to stroll up to the gun counter and, when seeing I was buying a gun, offered a once over, a word of caution about the thumb safety on my model, and an atta girl) and with no guidance from anyone other than a brief chat with the kind-eyed woman who will be my shooting instructor.

I bought a gun even though we own many and I’ve shot most of them and I even have one of my very own that everyone calls Mom’s Rifle.

But those guns my husband bought.

This one I bought.

I am now the proud owner of  a Smith and Wesson 9 mm, complete with a magazine (not a clip folks, never a “clip”), a holster, 100 rounds of ammo, and a soft-sided case. The whole shebang.

And do you know what I heard after I walked out with my new gun?

I heard that just this morning, in our fair state of Alaska, there was a massive theft of guns from a small gun store.

Today my girl and I spent over one hour legally procuring a weapon, filling out pages of paperwork, having my height and weight (so what if it was just my driver’s license weight, STILL) blown up to 8×11 size for the file, having my drug habits and mental status queried, having my name run through a federal registry, having my signature scrutinized, having to provide all the basic information that anyone would need to steal my identity and wreak havoc on my life, all so I could be declared “safe” and walk out of the store with a weapon.

Legally.

That is the process.

That is how it’s done.

I did everything right.

And I told my girl as we drove off that today was an important day for her.

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That today she got to be part of witnessing a free woman in a free country exercising one of the rights so many that have come before her fought and died for.

Today was the day when she saw her grown up mama become a little more of a grown up.

Today was the day we talked about countries and laws that aren’t friendly to women and how in this land, we don’t yet live that way.

Today we talked about how it’s important to use the strength God gave you in the place that He put you.

How having a good husband is a wonderful and amazing thing, but that not every woman has one, and even if they do, it’s good and pertinent for her to know how to make decisions for herself.

How men and women fought and died so that we could do what we did today.

And she said That’s right Mama. We can bear arms.

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I did it legally.

And what took us an hour, buying that gun with hard-earned money my husband toils for week in and week out and generously provides for me to use as I see fit…fulfilling all the government’s requirements to purchase and possess a weapon…

it took the thieves 28 seconds.

Twenty-eight seconds of video footage showing them stealing many weapons, taking all they could fill their shirts with, fulfilling zero governmental requirements other than those required to be considered a gun thief.

They didn’t even have to give their driver’s license weight.

Do you see why gun owners have a hard time when folks start murmuring about upping the requirements for gun ownership?

I did it legally.

Someone bent on destroying lives will do it whether it be by a knife, a step van, a bomb, or an illegally-obtained weapon.

Gun owners, responsible, law-abiding gun owners…

we own guns legally and we use guns legally.

We fill out the paperwork, we answer the questions, we write down the serial number, we pay the money, we carry responsibily and we shoot responsibly.

Do you think the little 9 mil I’m now so proud of and a little scared of and can’t wait to practice with is going to mow people down by my legal hand?

Or do you think one of the many that those thieves so indiscriminately stole will?

Do you see the difference?

After today, after exercising my freedom and proudly practicing my independence, and teaching my daughter to do the same, I feel a little tug to throw a Don’t Tread on Me sticker on the back of my mom-SUV.

I feel a need to maybe get a little more vocal about our Second Ammendment rights, maybe even get my Concealed Carry permit.

Not to show off or sound big.

Not to paint myself as a knuckle dragging Neandrethol that many today in our society are quick to label us gun owners.

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I feel the need because today I exercised the right that so many fought and died to provide for me.

For my children

For you.

For your children.

For my daughter, my precious girl who smiles at me when I tell her how proud I am of her and the young woman she is growing into.

I may take flak from some but you know what?

I am a woman and I bought a gun and I bought it legally and I will learn all I can about it and I will practice with it and it will be my tool.

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I am a woman and I bought a gun.

Many picked up their weapons and they said we have a right to defend ourselves. To defend our loved ones.

And today I could almost hear them speaking to me and my girl.

They were saying That’s right Mama. We can bear arms.

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The Haying

Our haying for 2016 is done.

Over the past two days we’ve moved 200 bales of hay, a small haul for a small farm, just over five and a half ton. We’ve spent over ten hours in the amazing bake of Alaska sun. We’ve laughed, we’ve snarled, Mama secretly cried a few times over memories and tiredness and quiet grief over a pony we don’t need to buy chow for any more, Daddy not-so-secretly got a sunburn on his bald spot, and we’ve bonded as a family.  

Tucked in alongside hay trips, we’ve learned how to put stitches in a lamb’s leg, we’ve met new people who love 4-H and want to support us in small and big ways, we’ve reunited with some favorite music that speaks of the Great North like no other, and we’ve gone out to eat for the first time in forever.

I thought after Beau died that maybe we weren’t meant for the farm life.

I thought maybe we weren’t good enough for this life with animals and farm folk and feed stores and hay fields.

But after this weekend I realize that the farm life isn’t a matter of who’s good enough or not good enough.

It’s a life that changes those who choose it.

And that with each passing year, with each turn of the season…

you buck bales a little quicker and you learn to steer a little straighter and you get more efficient at driving the field and your muscles get a little bigger.

And just like the hay…

you reach toward the sun and you grow.

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~

 

 

Pushing

I decided to update my folder of barn records in the morning and before long there were surprised tears in my coffee as I typed up Beau’s last notes.

Our long weekend with him…

and then his final lay down.

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The afternoon was filled with 4-H and phone calls and sunshine and then yells from the front yard that the dog had eaten the sheep’s leg off.

There were angry tears when I saw that the dog hadn’t actually EATEN the sheep’s leg, but had tried to herd the sheep and a tied sheep won’t herd and a cattle dog without a job sometimes herds too hard.

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The evening saw us in the hayfield, dropping everything to go on that one day a year when the hay man says it’s here, and the injured sheep stayed home with his girl and my boys donned gloves and my big man does what he does best, he hefts and he pushes through life so he hefts and he pushes through the field of hay and I want to lay down but I drive slow instead and sometimes heft too and then, when my littlest baby is driving the truck and the music is playing and the sun is shining, tired tears come because sometimes a mama really does just want to lay down.

Because sometimes all life is, is hopping from one mishap to another…one mess to the next…one big job to one more big job…

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and it can be overwhelming.

And a mama gets tired.

But when a few more quiet tears come on the way home, hay loaded up and midnight approaching, they’re both sad and sweet and grateful because sometimes in the tired we can forget who we are and where our strength comes from.

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And while I follow in the second truck and the hay on the trailer in front of me rocks through the Alaska wilderness and the construction zones, I realize how far I am from where I want to be. From where I should be.

All the things…all the places…all the words…how have I gotten this far and left them all undone, unsaid?

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But as the midnight sun glares and my baby switches songs on the playlist like a big boy next to me, I remember that I’m close to the One who’s taking me there.

And that every breath is the opposite of mishap and an opportunity to do the things and go the places and say the words.

The mountains are purple on the flats and we take our hay home and my men unload and my girls put the crock pot away and we tuck in the sheep and we go to bed.

And I tell myself that tomorrow there will probably be more mishaps and messes. But that I need to listen. I need to remember the wide open sky and the freshness of hay and the muscles that move.

I need to listen to it all.

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So I’ll remember. I’ll remember that tears come when I’m listening and when I’m listening, I am strong.

I’ll remember that my job is to grow into who He made me to be and while I’m doing that, to love.

To share.

To remember where I get my strength.

And to use that strength to manage the mishaps and weather the worries and surrender the sorrows so that I’ll keep standing.

I’ll keep standing and I’ll keep lifting and I’ll keep pushing and I’ll keep hefting…

All the way up to my final lay down.

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Great is Your faithfulness oh God
You wrestle with the sinner’s heart
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me

~Your Grace is Enough, Chris Tomlin

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13

 

 

 

 

This Shifty Week

Today is Saturday.

I mean, technically it’s Wednesday, but it’s my Saturday. That’s because yesterday, which was Tuesday, was really my Friday.

But every-other week, Tuesday is my Monday.

If you’re nodding your head right now, you are living and breathing among the wild ranks of shift workers.

If you’re scratching your head right now, you’re a nine-to-fiver.

I once made the mistake of saying out loud to the person I was talking to on the phone that it was Monday. Except the calendar said it was Thursday.

He called me crazy.

That’s okay.

It takes all of us.

And us shifty folks, well, there might be a little truth to the You’re Crazy statement.

Because the crazy truth is, there are a lot of us crazy folks beholden to live life on a schedule of weird and wacky shifts, and it takes just a touch of crazy to make it work smoothly (and yes, I just snorted a little when I wrote “smoothly”).

In spite of the crazy, or maybe because of it, our family is one that has made shift work work for them, and here are some things I’ve learned along the bumpy and every-other-week way.

1) Your schedule will never be “normal” again. Ever.

Normal, in the M-F, 9-5 rest of the world sense, is gone from your life forever. Oh, you’ll strive for it, and you’ll look curiously at the bankers with their hair all done-up in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, but you my dear, won’t ever know that sense of daily regular, because in the middle of your Tuesday afternoon, you’re either working like a dog for the twelvth day straight, or partying it up like you’re on Hawaiin vacation. Kiss normal good-bye. The sooner the better. Don’t fight it; that will just add angst and turmoil. But more about that later.

 

2) Be prepared for odd looks should you be a) working like a dog for the twelvth day straight or b) partying it up like you’re on a Hawaiin vacation in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.

These odd looks stem from one of two reasons:

a) Tuesday is still early in the week. You should be looking early-week fresh and not like you do: wild and crazy-eyed with all your hair sticking straight up and your FR shirt wrinkled and stained like you’ve been wearing it for 12 straight days (which you have) while your safety glasses frame your nutty mug like a pair of goggles that are permanently affixed to your crazy face (they are). OR…

b) your shuffle through the grocery store for popcorn and jalepeno cheese dip has you wearing your Saturday casual while your sloppy bun frames your slightly puffy, make-up free face…puffy only because you stayed up past ten o’clock the night before which was your Friday (Monday)… and this casual package implies that you’re an unemployed slacker mom who’s mooching off the rest of society, doing nothing but slogging around in pajamas and eating junk food for all your days. I promise you, it’ll happen.

 

 

3) You will very quickly learn all about yourself.

Namely, the depth and level of your strength. Whether you are a mama of littles holding down the fort while your man is on his four-weeks, or whether you’re a hard workin’ husband who hasn’t held his baby’s chubby hand for too many days, or who has gone to sleep without the warm hug of his wife for too many nights, you will soon learn just how strong you can be when you have to be. Something inside of you will take over and the ache of lonliness that once would’ve threatened to crumple and cripple you will become an entity almost separate from yourself and you will only allow yourself to take it out and inspect it in the few quiet moments of the day when there isn’t more work to be done.

It sounds dramatic but it’s true.

You will become strong. Very strong.

4) This strength will serve you well when everything in the whole wide world decides to break down/fall apart/turn to crap as soon as the shift begins.

Oh, it will happen. It’s the law of the shift worker that at least once, -but more often, many, many times- as soon as you go away, everything turns to youknowwhat. This either a) causes the one who is back home to carry a heavier-than-bearable burden, threatening the above-mentioned strength or b) cause you an immeasurable amount of stress as you try to handle break-downs and crises back home between break time and lunch hour at the job job and you’re trying to do your very best to balance both. This part is stressful. Verrrry stressful.

 

 

 

5) Your life will alternate between two conflicting personas.

This ties into Number 1 but it needs more words because this is a definite issue in our home and one that I’m assuming other shift-workers and their families struggle with. This one is the hardest for me.

The on-week, we’re all about nose-to-the-grind…keeping the train on the tracks…workin it to the bone. On the off-week, it’s like one long, constant string of Saturdays, a manic seven days of fun and field trips and projects with nary a routine or schedule. You will relax, you will soar with the family time, you will so enjoy the lazy days…the productive days…the full days…the free days…and then…

BAM.

It’s time for the all-too-quick SNAP back to reality when it’s time for the on-shift to begin again.  No amount of preparation or mental talk has been able to help this transition for me. It can seem like a constant flip-flop, flip-flop, and have a tendency to feel like working two full-time jobs with no weekend in between.

Unless you just let go and run with the party feel. And if you do, the one who’s at home is left with the aftermath of the seven-day/two-week/four-week manic fun-binge, and the one who’s back to the job site starts the hitch tired and hung over on family and fun while EVERYONE reels from the blunt transition to “normal”. It is a constant angst for this family. I’m sure there are folks who navigate the back-and-forth better than I, but after years, every change-out still leaves me a little shaken and trembly as much of my effort goes into making the transition smooth. (There’s that word that makes me laugh again.)

6) You will soon become an expert on things you never knew you would need to know.

Writing letters…hauling a horse trailer…running an ice auger…eradicating scads of gypsy moth larva sacs with a blow torch…Skyping…cleaning up the vomit/pee/poop…all the things your other half usually does, -or would normally do- those are yours now. You’ll get really good at them too. And one day you’ll quit wondering how it happened that you’re doing all this stuff you never wanted to know how to do. It’s that strength thing again. 

 

7) You will learn how to argue quickly.

Notice I did not say “you will quickly learn how to argue”. While shift work CAN cause an increase in arguing for some folks, I’m talking here about the actual time spent on an arguement. You will get very quick with your disagreements. When it’s on-shift time, work is the priority and could interfere in even the briefest of conversations at any given second, so discussions are short, quick, and to the point. No one wants to hang up mad, so you’ll learn to settle disagreements quickly whether it’s by voice…or by emojis. 🙂

When it’s off-shift time, peace is priority, so discussions/disagreements/arguments/fights need to be put to rest quickly so that the fun can be gotten to. This can make for a little bit of a bipolar-type day, explosions happening one moment, happy schmoozy family times happening the next. When time is short, arguments need to be short too. Ain’t no one got time to let things drag out when there are days-long projects and fun to be had.

8) The one-who-works-away will miss half a life.

This is especially true for those men and women who work off-shore/on the Slope/overseas. Being physically removed from your family means you will not be physically there for your family. It is a simple fact, and for the shift-worker and their family, it is a part of their life that they carry around always. They are very aware of the sacrifice they are making. For the family man, it is a huge sacrifice. Some may call him selfish. Some may wonder why he doesn’t just find a town job or something closer to home. More on that later, but being away half the time cannot be discussed separate from the flip side of the issue.

North Slope photo courtesy Tristin Martinez

North Slope photo courtesy Tristin Martinez

 

Which brings us to number 9…

9) The time off can’t be beat.

Many families here in Alaska work a two-week on/two-week off schedule, referred to as a “2 and 2”. In our family, we’ve done the work week that consists of four, ten-hour shifts (4 tens), the 5-day, 9 to 5 week (town job), the five, ten-hour-shifts week (5 tens), the 7-days of 12-hour shifts (7 twelves), and we’ve done the four weeks on, one week off away from home job (4 and 1, which usually turned into 6/7/8 on but that’s another story).

While being physically gone half the time is hard, there is nothing, no thing, that beats having the family together for long stretches of hours and days and weeks. Nothing.

Having the family together for a long string of days brings such a quality of life and memory-building opportunities, it makes the time away more bearable and understandable. It allows the one-who-works away to immerse him/herself in the day-to-day life of the family in a way that usually isn’t possible with a 9-5, and it lifts the weight of the home management responsibilities off the one-who-stays-home while the whole family carries the load together during the off-hitch.

Vacations can be lengthy, times of rest can actually be restorative, staying up late can actually happen, sleeping in can be a reality. The off time can’t be beat.

 

10) You will be criticized.

Yes, really. People will criticize you for your job choice. People will call you selfish, say you are sacrificing your family for the money, and they will think you are a overtime-hungry, materialistic bachelor-type.

Really.

But just like teachers don’t choose their profession just because of the summers off, or surgeons don’t choose their field for the long hours away from their family, the shift-worker hasn’t chosen their profession just because of the schedule.

My grandfather worked 20 days on/eight days off for over thirty years to raise his children and his grandchildren. My husband’s dad was an over-the-road truck driver for decades, raising six kids on a job that took him away from home for weeks at a time.

Shift work is simply a job.

Shift workers have chosen their profession because it puts food on the table. They’ve chosen their profession because it fits their skill set. They’ve chosen their profession because someone hired them, it’s a career, it’s a way they can provide a living for their family and a resource for their world.

It’s a job.

And to those who think, -even if quietly in their minds- that the shift-worker really should find another job, one that is easier on a family, I’d like to say this:

You go find another job.

How easy would it be for YOU to switch careers?

How long would it take you to put together a resume…scour the help-wanted ads…go through the interview process? How would that look for you to learn a whole new skill set…make a career switch…try to find something outside of what you know or have been trained for? Maybe go back to college to get a degree, or go back to college to update your current degree. How easily would that work for YOU? Especially when you have a good paying job that provides for your family right now.

 

 

People who work odd shifts are not a special set of folks who secretly yearn to spend their nights away from their family. They are not an elite group of people who have special demands, needs, or desires.

They are simply folks like everyone else who saw a path toward a paycheck, started walking it and ended up in a job that requires round-the-clock employees. Whether that job be a police officer, a nurse, a lineman, an oilfield worker, an airline employee, a bartender, a night custodian, or any of the other hundreds of jobs that call for shifts…it’s a job. It needs doing. The folks who work those jobs are providing a service to people, to their communities and to this world, but most of all, they are serving their family.

It’s a job and jobs are hard to come by, especially in Alaska right now as having hours cut, being sent home, getting laid off, or having positions eliminated are all becoming more of a reality for far too many in our slumping economy.

Shift work is just a job like any other.

And yes, shift workers keep nutty hours and crazy days.

(Getty Images)

And yes, you may get very confused when you talk to them about work schedules and calendars and what day of the week it is.

You may even be a little jealous when they stroll into the bank in their Hawaain shirt and Saturday afternoon attitude when it’s only Wednesday at noon, or irritated when they look like they just rolled out of bed even though it’s 3 p.m.

But the next time you see a gal in a work boots and a high viz parka turn away from you on the airplane and pop her earbuds in, making it clear she doesn’t want to talk to you or anyone else, don’t think the worst of her.

She may be leaving her family behind to go work a weeks-long hitch at a job thousands of miles from her loved ones.

And the next time you see a wild-eyed guy in an untucked FR blue shirt grabbing sandwiches in the deli department at 8 a.m. and he’s got a grimace on his face and a Rockstar in his dirty paw, don’t look at him disapprovingly because he’s not wearing Tide-fresh clothes or his hair isn’t brushed.

Smile at them. Because even though their schedule is different, they’re just like you.

Smile because even though it may be your Friday, it’s really her Monday.

Smile, because today may be his last of twenty-one straight days on twelves.

Smile…because now you know.

Smile…these folks are shift workers.