I went onto third shift, for the second time, in February of 1988. I spent a total of 2 years on third shift. The first time was from August of 1985 until October of 1986, then this time from February of 1988 until November of 1988. So far all I’ve mentioned are the hardships of third shift. But there was a unique high point to working third shift. Friday mornings.
A work week on third shift began at 11 pm Sunday and ran to 7 am Friday. So my Friday began about 2 p.m. on Thursday when I woke up just before my sons came home from school. I spent the evening with them, cooked supper, went over homework, went to practice with them, did whatever was needed. Then they went to bed and I left for work at 10:30 p.m. I worked 8 hours, then was off work at 7 a.m. By this time I had already been up 17 hours, but my day was just beginning. By the time I got home the boys were already on the bus on their way to school. So I had the entire day to myself. After cleaning up, I sometimes went to Al’s. That’s the bar in Sharonville across the street from the union hall where we continued our meetings after they were officially adjourned. The place would be packed, at 8 a.m. Al’s was a favorite haunt of third shift workers from General Electric Aviation in Evendale, just down the road from Sharonville. Few were there to eat breakfast. Most were well on their way to becoming sloshed. So I joined them.
Before you start shaking your heads in disapproval of men drinking at 8 a.m., you have to understand what third shift hours does to your internal clock. It smashes it. I mean you eat lunch at 3 a.m.! So what’s so unusual about drinking at 8 a.m.? After several hours at Al’s drinking with members of the ‘Zero Club’ ( don’t ask, I have no idea what it meant, it was just a tee shirt a lot of the GE guys wore), I’d drive home to continue the party at my house. By 10 or 11 I was not only exhausted but also had several beers in me, but I never had any mishaps driving home. Mason isn’t that far from Sharonville, there wasn’t that much traffic that time of morning, and the police weren’t patrolling for drunk drivers that early on a Friday. Once home, I’d usually blast some music while I did whatever chores needed doing: laundry, house cleaning, yard work. If it was spring I’d take my music and beers outside and work in my vegetable garden. I’ve spent many happy hours hoeing with a 6-pack and a boom box.
By noon I’d stop for lunch, at which time I’d stop drinking so I’d sober up before school let out. I’d usually settle down to watch a movie. We had gotten hooked-up to cable in 1979, then had bought a VCR in 1987. So entertainment was always at hand. I knew a man who worked third shift before cable or VCR’s, and his biggest complaint about the hours was that there was never anything on TV when he was off work. Then the boys would get home from school about 2:30 or 3 pm, and I’d spend the rest of the day with them. We’d eat dinner, or go somewhere, it being a Friday. Then I’d settle down in front of the TV about 9 p.m. and they’d amuse themselves. By 10 p.m. Friday I had been up for 32 hours. So my oldest son, who was 13, would wake me up at some point and tell me to go to bed, if I hadn’t made it there on my own.
So those Fridays on third shift were glorious. I wouldn’t always go to Al’s. There were other bars open that time of morning. The Pleasure Inn in Mason, Tommy’s in West Chester. And during the summer months I wouldn’t stop off anywhere, since my sons were off from school. That first summer on third shift in 1986 I had just gotten divorced for the second time and my house echoed for the second time, so I and my youngest, who was 8, hit the yard sales to refurnish. I’d come straight home from work and clean up, then we’d go out at 8 or 9, whenever they began, to get first pickings.
The second time I went onto third shift, in 1988, I was lucky to be seeing a woman who had Fridays off. I’d come straight home from work and clean up, then go over to her house. We’d spend the morning and early afternoon together, then I’d leave before her kids came home from school and be home when my sons got out of school. It worked out great. This one time we took a picnic to Winton Woods and spread a blanket out on the ground to eat by the lake. While we were eating, a little duckling waddled up to us and snuggled up to my back. I could feel it quivering against me. I had no idea what was going on. I have never had a wild animal adopt me like that, before or since. We stood up and walked away, and the duckling chased after us, quaking insistently. So we split up, but I was the one it followed, still quacking. I ran through a bunch of ducks, hoping to distract it, but no luck. The ducks parted before me, and the duckling stayed right on my tail. My car was parked on the side of the road, and when we reached it the duckling charged out into the road after me. So my friend picked it up to keep it from being run over and carried it down the hill. I started my car, pulled out from the curb and opened her door. Just as she jumped in the duckling came charging up the hill toward us. So I sped away. All the while I kept looking in my rearview mirror, expecting to see it running down the road after us.
So there was one redeeming quality to being stuck on third shift – Fridays!