Why do your shift become your family?

-Everyone in the job says their shift is their second family. Everyone not in the job doesn’t understand.

Comments like “you just work with them” or “they’re only colleagues” couldn’t be further from the truth. Because they aren’t. I honestly don’t think the bond you have with your shift is something anyone can relate to, unless they’ve been in the job.

We work a 40 hour week….well aside of the overtime, the shifts that finish four hours late, and the cancelled rest days. We start at 7am in the morning, which means we’ve left our home and loved ones before they’re awake. We finish our late shifts at 11pm, which means we miss dinner time at home. We start our night shifts at 10pm, which means we miss evenings cuddled up on the sofa watching trashy T.V.

I have more dinner dates at work than I do with my husband. I spend more evenings at work than on my sofa. I spend more hours a day with my shift family than my own family. So what? It’s just a job. Everyone works.

But as a shift family we do the following –

  1. We have breakfast together before responding to a domestic.
  2. We are there for each other when we get assaulted.
  3. We help each other cut down the young man who has hung himself.
  4. We make sure we are okay after our first fatal car crash.
  5. We support each other when someone has made a complaint about us.
  6. We ply each other with caffeine at 6am when we should have been off at 3am and we’re still writing up the GBH from the club.
  7. We laugh with each other, because otherwise we will cry.
  8. We make plans to have dinner together then end up in Custody, with a custody sandwich instead.
  9. We try and get each other off on time because there’s always a late job when you have plans that night.
  10. We sometimes say nothing, because no words can do justice to what we’ve just seen, but that silence is comforting.
  11. We bring Christmas dinner to work, because we can’t be at home.
  12. We celebrate New Years Eve filling up the car at the petrol station, watching everyone else’s fireworks.
  13. We support each other’s decisions, when yes the right thing to do really is remove the children from their parents.
  14. We say “morning” and “goodnight” at the start and end of every shift, regardless on the time.
  15. When we are off late and still have to drive the 45 minutes home, we arrive home to messages from our shift making sure we are home safe.
  16. We are forever in debt to each other in the forms of coffee and Haribo.
  17. We stand by each other when we did everything we could, and even that wasn’t enough.
  18. We buy birthday cakes, as we can’t be with our families to celebrate them.
  19. We support each other when we’ve had to do CPR and weren’t successful.
  20. No matter how royally shit a shift we have had, we make sure we all go home with a smile on our face, ready to come back in a few hours and do it all again.

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