My life is like the Matrix. From time to time, via a headset, and for several hours at a time I plug myself into a world that is often alien to me. Where else, in the space of minutes does one deal with a fatal motorway incident, or a runaway pensioner with Alzheimer's, or a report of a puppy's head by the roadside? Welcome to my world. It will be familiar to some of you who read this; you do the same. It lurches from the surreal to the barbaric, from the inspirational to the obscene. I don't think it's the kind of job that can leave you unchanged? The hours add to the weirdness, shifts of varying length, coming and going at different times of the day and night. Funny how the absurd can become the norm. If you can manage the job itself it still leaves the challenge of how to plan out the rest of your life. Not easy for anybody whether single or in a relationship. The transition was massive for Joy, who was content with the relative normality of life before. I turned everything upside down and she's done well to adapt. Shift work gives and takes, and mastering it is a black art. On the good days there's the long country walks, the pub lunches, the hours of fun and games at home without fear of the children interrupting. I know for a fact that many of our friends envy that. There's also the bonus that I get to do school run's, to have at least a partial involvement in all areas of my girls lives. Many men miss out on this. The downside is that I work 8 weekends out of every 12, and that if I get a run of late shifts I basically kiss everybody goodbye in the morning and don't see them until the next day. That can dampen the enthusiasm to be sure.
I wonder how I will look back on this time in years to come? The people with whom I work are truly cool, most of them sincerely wanting to make people's bad days better. We probably all accept that there's only so much we can achieve, but each of us who steps up surely has memories of phenomenal encounters. We see the best and the worst, we laugh and we bemoan. Our chosen field affords a glimpse of life at it's most zany and oblique. There really and truly is no such thing as normal. Whatever the future brings I'm glad I chose this road. I've grown and I've learned. I've been inspired and enraged. Above all, I've had my horizons enlarged, and that's not a bad way to kill a working day.