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Wednesday, March 18, 2009


One major advantage of working day shift over night shift is the traffic, or lack thereof.

This may sound a bit backwards unless you remember that day shift goes from 6 AM to 6 PM, and night shift goes from 6 PM to 6 AM. So the day shift commute takes place around 5:00 in the morning, when the highways are mostly empty with the exception of long-haul truckers and other extremely early commuters. Night shift, on the other hand, requires a commute around 5:00 in the afternoon - rush hour.

It's not just the fact that there are more vehicles on the road. Only rarely are there active work zones in the early-morning hours. In the afternoon construction has been going on all day, and significant delays are possible. Backups, even.

That's what happened yesterday.

I technically live forty minutes from work, door to door, assuming smooth traffic. Since I cannot always assume smooth traffic, and since I still have to walk through the parking lot, into the building, and to the time clock prior to 6:00 - well prior, if I want to not be a jerk, get a good turnover, and relieve my counterpart a little early - I have to add a little buffer to my start time.

On day shift I worked out that 5:00 was a pretty optimal time to leave the house for work. It got me there with fifteen to twenty minutes to spare. If I suspected there would be bad weather or other delays, I would set out as much as fifteen to twenty minutes early.

Night shift is another matter. I would routinely see traffic jams through construction zones on my commute home, usually affecting traffic coming the other way. If and when I had to take a detour on my home-bound commute, it was no big deal.

On Monday I thought about all these things when I left the house at about 4:40 - and got to work at 5:20. So yesterday I decided to shave things a little closer, and left at about 4:50.

Naturally, I hit a traffic jam.

It could have been worse. A state patrolman had thoughtfully positioned his vehicle before the last exit before the traffic jam, so people who realized what was happening had the option of exiting and taking a detour. Which is what I did. But the detour was already overstuffed with commuters, so it was full of its own delays. After more than twenty minutes of picking my way through Moosic and Scranton I was able to get back onto Interstate 81. I made it to the timeclock with five minutes to spare.

This afternoon I think I'll try to leave a little earlier. Maybe I'll take a magazine with me.

For now, I need to get to bed.

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