Complications Working Night Shift

Since I’ve started working nights, I’ve noticed there’s definitely a hierarchy-and night shift workers are treated differently, much like part-timers are treated differently than full-timers. It’s not just in the workplace-it’s outside of it as well.

We privilege the day over the night–businesses are open during the day, though they may or may not be open at night (or overnight). Now, before you accuse me of being all PC-happy, let me explain. Daytime is just dandy. We have all this natural light to see and shit. But there’s this attitude that nighttime activity is shady, because it’s dark outside, you see, and dark = bad.

So. I work at night. I work well past “bed time.” When I get off work, I don’t usually go immediately to bed. Why would I? When the day shift goes home, do they go to bed? Ha! No! There are things to be done, not the least of all, winding down from hours of workworkworkworkOMGYOU’RECHATTINGworkworkGODYOUHAVETOPEEALOTWHATISWRONGWITHYOU
ORAREYOUJUSTTRYINGTOGETOUTOFWORK!!!workworkwork.

So. Bed time for night-shift is very late. We are, however, still human (though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way) and so, we need to sleep. Logically, go to sleep later, sleep later, right? You’re not going to wake at the same time as your day-shift comrades, duh. Except…many don’t see it that way. There’s this idea that’s fixed in our collective mind, that those who sleep “late” are lazy. The cutoff for just sleeping, and sleeping “late” have been determined by our daytime compatriots, however.

Needless to say, I’ve been treated as or called lazy quite a bit since I’ve started the night shift. Frustrating? Oh yes. Compounded by the fact that I’ve always been treated as lazy for sleeping the 9-10 hours (when I can) to avoid seizures, the frustration is doubled. Night shift works the same eight hours that day shift does, but for this reason, we’re treated as if we’re lazy. In the workplace, that means management (who all work 1st shift, naturally) blames us for errors, malfunctions, and other setbacks, regardless of when they occur. It also means if we’re busy, we’re the ones to take on the extra work. Outside the workplace, we’re met with condescension and/or contempt. This is if it’s not assumed we’re unemployed. Then, well, a good many of you know how the unemployed are treated.

Sleep isn’t a very valued activity in work-centered cultures. We’ve created entire industries out of helping people avoid sleep. Because business is conducted in the daytime, many night shift workers must forgo sleep to maintain households, further careers, or take care of other things. Sometimes the ability is taken away if a night shift worker lives in a household of day-shift workers. After all, if the day shift workers are awake, you’re just being lazy if you sleep, so you’re not entitled to the consideration of quietness that you give to the day shift workers when you return home from work, right?

Am I complaining? You bet your ass I am. I’m grouchy for lack of sleep. I notice the suspicion in the looks I get when I do my grocery shopping at o’dark-thirty at 24-hour grocery stores. I see the resentment in the clerk’s eyes, at my “making” them be there. I hear all the underlying messages when others ask, “why haven’t you done _____ yet?” or “Oh, you just now woke up?” I catch the eye rolls and the dismissive tones when I ask for quiet while I sleep.

But I’m also asking you to think.

Why Repealing Healthcare Reform is a Bad Idea.

As the health care debate emerges again, I’d like to give the participants a unique perspective: I’m an epileptic woman that works full-time, has health insurance with a lot of strings attached, and (of course) pays taxes.

Here’s what my epilepsy means as far as healthcare: I have a monthly prescription that I have to take. Otherwise, seizures! Inflicting my disease upon others! Inconveniencing others! Every few months, a doctor’s visit, and depending on the doctor’s whim, perhaps an EEG at the nearest hospital the next week. If I’m unfortunate enough to have a seizure in public I have to deal with EMTs, perhaps an ambulance ride, the Emergency Room, and doctors and nurses rushing about to give me tests to determine what is wrong with me, all the while ignoring my feeble, half-conscious self informing them exactly what is “wrong” with me.

This gets expensive, folks, even with insurance. With or without it–it’s a nightmare.

I remember my college days, sprinkled with seizures, and the inevitable aftermath of my insurance company claiming I’m no longer covered, leading to the hospital sending me bills that were not mine to pay, then to collections and the night-and-day harassment of those lovely people. Then the calls to the insurance company, the feigned “oh my! We don’t know what happened! We’ll get you right back on the policy!” and the grasshopper chirps when they were asked to pay their share of my hospital visits.

My insurance paid four dollars of my monthly prescription.

After every doctor’s visit, I would inevitably get a call from the doctor’s office. “Ms. Wick, the insurance company says you’re not on the policy.” I would sigh, tell them that I am, that I will call the insurance company and that to please file again. Like my calls about the hospital bills, the insurance company would say, “Oh! My! I don’t know how that happened!” Unlike the hospital bills, they would actually pay their share. Does this make it better? No.

That insurance company? A national, well-known insurance company. Many of your probably have policies with them.

Post-college, I began my full-time job, and got a new policy with a different health care company. I hoped for better service, hell, service period, for the money that I gave them. I knew when I was filling out the paperwork, however, that it would not be much better. Right there on the paperwork, the insurance company declared its unwillingness to actually provide the service for which it was being paid for: pre-existing conditions would not be covered for a full year. After that? Who knows. My previous insurance company certainly did not declare that it would pull the crap with me that it did.

I haven’t yet used it, save to refill my prescription. They pay more than my previous insurance company did. But my doctor’s visits? The annual EEGs? The Emergency Room trips? It remains to be seen. I do not have much faith, however, when right in the paperwork they tell me that they will not pay for conditions that are the entirety of why I am enlisting their service, for an entire year.

Imagine paying a mortgage on a house for a full year before you are allowed to move in. Imagine paying tuition at a university for a full year before you are allowed to enroll in classes. These things are outrageous. They would not happen–because they are so clearly thieving. In what other industry would it be acceptable to pay for a service and then to not receive it? It is acceptable in the healthcare industry only because we have allowed it to be so. “Obamacare” is the first step to Americans actually getting service that they have paid for. It is setting a corrupt market right. A market that should not exist in the first place. Healthcare should not be a business. However, right now, in the “best country in the world,” it is. So we must fix it.

To properly manage my epilepsy, I must go one of two routes: The first, and the easiest is to go on medication. I need health insurance for this. I need a job for both of these. The second: to prevent seizures without medication, I must keep stress at the lowest level possible. Ten or eleven hours of sleep a night is a must. I can manage with nine, but ten would be ideal. Why? Stress and sleep deprivation are the two things that trigger my epilepsy. It’s hard work, and takes a lot of thought, balance, effort, and planning to achieve those things, and even so, I still may have a seizure every now and then. So far, I’ve been unsuccessful. Getting ten hours of sleep a night and still being able to accomplish things are impossible. Throw in a need to be low-stress, and it is a laughable endeavor.

I pay my taxes. I pay my insurance premiums. I deserve to get what I paid for. I’m not “an epileptic.” I’m a human being. I’m trying to earn my place in a devastated economy. I want no handouts. I want to work. The only job that the health care bill will “crush” is mine if it’s repealed. Take away my access to healthcare, you take away my ability to work.

No Disablism After Yesterday’s Violence, Please.

Trigger warning for discussion of violence and disablism.

What Jared Loughner did is reprehensible. No one will dispute that. We struggle to understand why people do such things. We can’t. Taking someone’s life, the lives of several people, including a child, for no apparent reason is unfathomable. What we must not do is, in our attempt to explain and understand, dismiss Loughner as mentally ill. It serves no purpose. It is an (not-so) intellectual shortcut, one that only gets us lost, and harms millions of people and children that are differently abled.

I will not speculate on Loughner’s health. I will not dismiss his actions by calling him “crazy,” a “nutjob,” or “mentally ill.”

His actions, however, have reminded us of the consequences of hatred and bigotry. No matter what that hatred is based off of, it is dangerous to hate. Hatred kills. Yesterday, it killed several people, including a nine year old child. Let’s not channel that hatred to those who are differently abled. Making that assumption, that Loughner was differently-abled, and that his disability caused him to hate and to kill, does not satisfy our need to understand. It will not address the problems in our society; it only shifts that hate from one group to another.

I mourn for the loss of Christina Green, of Gabe Zimmerman, of Dorothy Morris, of Dorwin Stoddard, of Phyllis Schneck, and of John Roll. I mourn for their families, their friends, and their loved ones. I mourn for Gabrielle Giffords, and all of the other unnamed others who were injured. I mourn also for all those who are differently-abled, who will now be looked on with suspicion because of Jared Loughner’s actions. I hope that, by reading this post, you will now not be one of those.

I do not name the titles, stations, or ages of those killed yesterday, because I feel that, now as much as ever, we must remind ourselves that we are all people–all human beings deserving of respect, empathy, and love. We are who we are, and unfortunately our differences are more often degenerated and hated, rather than celebrated and loved. John, Christina, Gabe, Dorothy, Phyllis, and Dorwin are not faceless beings. These are people, and they are people that we lost to hatred yesterday. No more.

Crossposted at Local Voices.

Senate Debating Filibuster Reform Now.

Right now, the Senate is debating on the filibuster reform. The debate is being aired on C-Span 2. This article, posted on the New York Times late last night, summarizes the current situation.

On C-Span, the Republicans are framing this as a tactic to suppress the rights of the minority. This is not so. I have linked again and again to the proposal being debated. It does nothing to suppress the minority, whoever they may be, in the Senate. The proposal requires 10 Senators to filibuster, their names to be public, and objecting Senators to remain on the floor. When no one is on the floor, the filibuster ends, and the chamber is allowed to proceed. It eliminates the ability for a Senator to filibuster a motion to proceed–which means that under current rules, a single, anonymous Senator may object to debate. It also suggests an expedited process for nomination, and ends the segregation by party in the chamber.

Read it for yourself. This does not, by any means, suppress the rights of the minority. It simply requires accountability. It eliminates the ability of a single, anonymous Senator to prevent debate on legislation. It requires more than one, single, anonymous Senator to filibuster a bill. It allows those Senators to filibuster as long as they wish–so long as they can hold the floor. If they no longer wish to speak to the body, the filibuster ends, so Senators cannot object, then traipse home for a holiday. It requires effort on the part of objecting Senators, and that is what Republicans are objecting to.

Proposed Changes in the House of Representatives.

It has come to my attention that Speaker-elect, John Boehner, has also proposed changes, but to the House of Representatives rather than the Senate. Below is the summary of changes that Boehner would like to make, from the New York Times:

Mr. Boehner seeks to do away with large omnibus spending bills, preferring to break them into smaller bills, and to allow for more amendments on bills generally, and more extensive debate.

Members offering bills for new programs will have to explain how they will pay for them, not by raising new revenues but by finding other ways to cut costs. Each bill introduced will also have to cite the specific constitutional authority for its contents.

For the first time under the House rules, all bills will be required to be placed online. Committees will post their rules and their votes, as well as information about testifying witnesses in an effort to make public any conflicts of interest.

In an unusual grab of budgetary power, the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee will be able to unilaterally set limits for categories of domestic spending until a budget resolution is passed this spring, as a budget enforcement measure. …

… Before bills are marked up — a sacred practice that allows lawmakers to change the content of bills — three days’ notice must be given, also to stave off dark-of-night revisions.

The health care repeal and the tax cuts are not subject to these new rules. Which I find interesting, considering that these two things number among the Republicans highest priorities.

I do appreciate the effort to put pending legislation online. This will allow any interested party to see exactly what legislation says–and frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t been done before. This takes away the considerable power of politicians and media to frame the debate among the public. There will be many, of course, that will still rely on media and politicians to summarize legislation for them, but political junkies everywhere are almost salivating in anticipation, I’m sure.

Breaking up budgetary bills would have been a very good idea, but the increased ability to add amendments cancels out any benefit we might have gained from it–because the problem with the annual budget bill was the excess of amendments, many having nothing to do with spending, added onto the legislation. Adding a requirement that any spending bills must specify where and how it is to be paid for would also be a good idea, IF the exclusion for raising new revenue were excluded. Of course, the exemption for the health care repeal and the tax cut bill are noteworthy, indicative of the Republicans willingness to make exceptions to their own rules for themselves. It does not bode well for the Republican House majority.

On Immigration, and Choosing Your Identity.

Immigration. It’s a controversial topic in the United States, and around the world. France, with its large Muslim-immigrant population, is struggling with it as well. Much of what comes up on the anti-immigration side is what it means, exactly, to be an American. Duncan Hunter, a Republican Representative in California, posits that it’s more than than existing on one side of an invisible line dividing one country from the next. It’s in our souls, apparently. This thing, in our souls, that differs a real American from a not-real one, is apparently being born to parents with a piece of paper saying so.

I am an American, yes. According to Duncan Hunter, I am a “real” American. But I question what exactly that’s supposed to mean. What is it about my mother being in a particular location on a map over twenty-two years ago, and my grandmothers being on a particular location on a map over fifty years ago that makes me more divisively American in my soul that a person traveling across an invisible line in the sand and declaring, “I am an American”? I have always lived in the United States. I had no choice in the matter; I did not choose to be American. I simply am. Had I the resources, would I emigrate to another country? I don’t know. I don’t have the resources, so I don’t have that choice. I have, however, traveled internationally. I can say without hesitation that America is not the best country in the world. It does not have within its arbitrarily drawn borders everything that I could ever want to see, feel, and experience.

I cannot see how anyone can say that someone who is born American, to American parents, is more American than someone who chooses to make the journey, across borders, across oceans, leaving behind friends, family, home and hearth, to choose to be an American.

Countries and borders are not physical things. We can try to make them so, but they’re not, by any stretch of the imagination. Countries are groups of people, who have divided themselves, taken control of a piece of land, drawn invisible lines, and created a culture all their own. Making the effort to leave one group to join another is a radical act.

Could it be that those among us who have simply been born into a group and chosen to remain in it all their lives, are envious of the power of those individuals who take their destiny, their identity into their own hands, and change it? There is a power in choice, unlike any other. There is freedom in it, too.

Get Your Activism On: Reform the Filibuster

Early in December, I wrote about Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and his efforts to reform the Senate’s rules on filibustering. Today an editorial appeared in the New York Times on this issue. The new Senate will vote on these changes on Wednesday. It is important that these changes be made–not for self-serving Democrats, or self-serving Republicans, or anything of the like. These changes must be made for the good of the people.

For the last two years we have witnessed the most egregious use of the filibuster in the history of the Senate. Every piece of legislation was filibustered by the GOP, whether or not they agreed with it. Legislation took weeks and months to pass, and the Republicans weren’t quiet about their motives–they wanted to make President Obama look inept. To some, I’m sure they succeeded. But to others, they only succeeded in holding up important legislation for brownie points at the cost of the credibility of the Senate and the good of the American people.

The proposal is short and simple. The highlights are in the NYT editorial. The full proposal is here. Take a look at it if you haven’t–the Senate will vote on Wednesday, and it will only take a simple majority vote to pass. The proposal is about transparency, demanding effort and accountability of the Senators who wish to hold up the work of the Senate, and limits on what they may do.

As before, contact your Senator and urge them to vote for this change.