Shift Shifts

2009-08-07 17:13:08.000 – Mike Carmon,  Staff Meteorologist

When all else fails, throw in a picture of Marty

Routine is something that one easily falls into while working on the summit. My schedule has been very routine for seven months: wake up in the afternoon, eat breakfast, do some work or go out for a hike (weather dependent, of course), eat dinner, watch a movie with the crew, then head to work for the remainder of the evening. This routine is repeated within a more inclusive routine, which is a Wednesday to Wednesday work week, followed by a Thursday to Tuesday weekend. This is my routine with which I have gotten familiar and eventually comfortable.

Now imagine turning that routine on its head. I am taking my first vacation since starting work here almost a year ago. I’m taking off this coming Sunday through Wednesday and heading down to the warmth of Virginia Beach. Because a night observer is always required, Steve was bestowed with the honor of taking my place. Because switching from days to nights midweek would be extremely difficult on the body (and most likely the mind), I have swapped to working days for the four days I am here this shift week.

So what’s different?

1.Sleeping schedule- starting with the most obvious. I work 5:30 AM – 5:30 PM instead of the opposite, so I sleep during the lightless hours (imagine that novelty!) and am awake with the sun. Coffee is consumed at 6AM rather than 6PM.

2.The people!- Due to the fact that summer is here, there are loads of tourists/hikers on the summit. Working nights keeps contact with these folks to a bare minimum. During the day, however, one interacts with these visitors on a regular basis.

3.Tours- A byproduct of #2. I’m not used to witnessing tours (or even giving them) as frequently as I have this week.

4.Working with co-workers- This seems like a no-brainer, but it really is quite amusing when you imagine that I do not work simultaneously with my co-workers for more than an hour or two while working nights. However, this week, I’m not the lone sole in the weather room during my shift. Stacey is a mere 6 feet to my right, and Scott is also awake and hard at work. And then I’ll occasionally see Deb walk through or hear her ring up on the phone. It is a much different dynamic than the moments when the only individual I have to talk to is me, myself, and Marty.

5.The phone rings!- It’s true I get a few calls during the night, but most of them are either very early in the evening or early the next morning. There are no constraints on the day shift-it rings whenever it has the urge!

6.Structure- The night shift is extremely regimented, which (in my opinion) allows the night to progress in a timely manner. During the day there is much less structure, which has freed me up to do many other things, but has also seemed to make the shift feel longer (but the fact that I’m ITCHING for the beach might be contributing to this as well). The number of observations I do has also been cut in half, because there are two observers on duty instead of one.

7.The fog is gray, not black- No explanation needed here.

8.Dinner is dinner, not lunch.- Our big meal at 7PM is no longer followed by a final (and much quieter) meal at 2AM.

9. Sunrise comes first.

As my half-shift winds to a close, and I look forward to the sun, the beach, and temperatures more than double what I’m currently experiencing, I can safely say it has been an intriguing shift to shift shifts.


Mike Carmon,  Staff Meteorologist

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