Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Too busy for people...

Relationships take time.
I am chaplain to the fire brigade. The fire fighters work shift work. They work two day shifts, then two night shifts. They have the rest of their last night shift day off, then three days off, till they start the process again. They complain that it interrupts their family life and normal relationships. I don't think they do too badly, and suspect that they would get frustrated in a five or six day week job. I work Tuesday through to Sunday. I generally have Sunday afternoon "off" though today I conducted a service in a rest home. I am "on call" 24/7.  I have Mondays, mostly as a clear day off. I sometimes get annoyed with every weekend being busy.

  • When I was running a lot of runs, half-marathons, ten k's, triathlons and fun runs were held on Sundays. I was not able to participate.
  • Family celebrations like birthdays, weddings, wedding anniversaries are held on Saturday nights. If we attend I have to be back home so that I can be intelligent in the morning. This often involves leaving festivities early and driving many miles home. The family often continues to meet and gather on the Sunday, but we cannot be there for that.
  • Sport events are held on a Saturday night. I do not get to go or watch them on TV because I am putting finishing touches to service preparation.
  • When the kids were young often they suffered because weekends were busy. I recall my son was in Cricket Trials for the province and I could not go to support him... they were Sunday mornings. Often sporting competitions were held Sundays and I could not help with transport, give support or enjoy their successes.
  • I don't really get two days off in a row. It makes going away difficult, things like decent tramping trips impossible and doing house repairs and renovations or just keeping up with gardens and lawns impossible.
  • Mondays are my normal day off so Monday holidays (like Otago Anniversary day tomorrow) mean nothing to me. ... and I cannot take extra days off because nobody fills in for stuff needing to be done, and chaplaincy does not recognise these.
That is probably enough to paint the picture. Life does not have much time to have a heck of a lot more in it, apart from "work". When I bother to count up my hours per week it is often near to, sometimes over 60 hours. I mention this tonight for two reasons. My son came to town from Christchurch on Thursday and left on Saturday evening. He of course spent time with his fiance, who we would love to spend more time with. Apart from brief encounters I did not really get time to catch up with him, get to know her more and kind of felt cheated because of this. Secondly, we have a couple in the congregation who own an Indian restaurant. They were opening a branch in Invercargill about two and a half hours drive away. They invited us to go to the opening. Because of our friendship with them and because of their link to our congregation we thought it would be worthwhile to go. On Saturday we left town and drove to Invercargill in time to get there by 7 p.m.  We had to leave the festivities by 9:30 p.m. to drive home, finally getting to bed at about 12:40 on Sunday morning, getting up for Sunday duties at around 6:45 a.m. As we talked with people at the opening we learned that many had come down from Dunedin. They were staying in Invercargill over night and making a special weekend of the event, dawdling their way home through the scenic route, booking romantic hotels etc etc. I felt so envious! They all had "normal" jobs! It is often difficult to build friendships because of these conditions.

Sometimes, because of the hours and days of work, I resent this job. Maybe I will make up for it when I retire? Just today I feel a bit flat and cheated.

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