Why Fourteen Hour Work Days Suck


Fourteen hours.


Actually, I like meeting the parents.  They are usually very supportive and really nice and genuinely want to help me and the students.  I can’t complain!

But fourteen hour workdays?  Suck.  Big time.  Like F-5 tornado or black hole suckdom.

Because Back-To-School-Night was Monday night and forty eight hours later I am still walking through a mental fog which is difficult to penetrate or fight because I am just so tired.

I don’t know how other people do this.  I used to work two jobs and finally had to quit one of them because the hours were destroying me.  I would get home around ten in the evening and would feel a huge sense of pressure to go to bed but I was still so awake that sleeping was not an option so I would just have to sit and stare at the clock or the television of my Bible and pretend that I was getting ready to go to bed but I wasn’t because my energy levels were still spiking and I felt so helpless because I just couldn’t sleep.

I have friends who are police officers and fourteen hours days are the norm for them.  Between hours in the courtroom to hours in training to hours spent commuting to and from work, police officers routinely pull fourteen + hour days.  And they do this day after day after day which is nothing more than a routine of toxic emotional destruction.

I am not weighing in on the police brutality debate.  I’m not touching that with a digital ten foot pole.  What I am reflecting on, though, is the impossible standard which is set for the average worker.

Work a minimum of eight hours but likely more and then go home and try to have a normal life only to have to return to work and do the same thing all over again.

I generally work an eight hour day.  Technically, my contract hours are only about seven hours a day.  But that doesn’t take into account the hours I spend at home grading, reading, planning, responding to emails, entering grades, or doing other work-related activities.  And these hours are uncompensated.  But I am not complaining about my job because, in the end, I really do love my job.

But I don’t love fourteen hour days which, fortunately, happen about once or twice a year so I usually forget how hideous the fourteen hour days are.

But it’s when I do those fourteen hour days that I remember that this is a normal shift for so many people which leads me back into the question of how in the world is this even feasible?  Or acceptable?  Or allowable?

Because it shouldn’t be.  It shouldn’t be allowed to expect a person to spend more than half of a twenty-four hour day working and doing high-intensity or high-stress work.  We are not cattle.  We are not machines.  And the fact that people automatically assume that these expectations are normal or acceptable is fallacious.

I am a fortunate, blessed, lucky woman.  I have a job with defined hours (yes, with un-defined additional hours to be spent working).  But, in the end, I can generally count on when I will have a weekend, free time, or a vacation.  So many police officers I know can not even plan a “weekend” with their family because they are working during the weekend.  Or, their “weekend” is actually  during the week which is when court is held and the police officer can be subpoenaed into court even though it is his/her day off.  And if the police officer fails to appear, then he/she can and will be fined or thrown into jail.  Which doesn’t look too good on a cop’s record.

Training cannot happen during a shift; therefore, say good-bye to another day off.  And with all the recent events in law enforcement, my police officer friends have discussed going in for training on wearing the body cameras or safety protocols or other issues related to the current issues plaguing police officers.

Police officer families are a bit of a unique group.  They are on a fluid schedule with a flexible sense of time.  Because if the police officer works nights, then daytime activities might not happen with nearly as much ease because the officer has to adjust his/her sleep schedule in order to spend time with the family.  And that can create new issues because adjusting a sleep schedule is not as easy as it sounds.  And adjusting one’s sleep schedule can present psychological and emotional issues as well because, in adjusting one’s sleep, one is actually depriving one’s self of sleep.

And sleep deprivation is destructive.

Sleep deprivation can quickly become depression, cognitive issues, emotional problems.  And the people suffering from sleep deprivation are those whom we call in a state of emergency and expect for them to arrive all fresh and confident and strong and calm.

Not exhausted or worn out because they haven’t slept.  Because they are working impossible schedules that do not take into account court or training or commutes or life.

So, yeah.  Fourteen hour days suck.  And people all around the world are expected to pull them on a daily basis…..

Now, if you will excuse me, but I’m going to get into my pajamas and go to bed.  Because I’m still tired.

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