Flobach asks about overtime in his latest post. “How much overtime/additional shifts do you do monthly, and why? For the money, for the fun, nothing better to do?”
I don’t work overtime, period. Well, sort of. Let me explain.
I used to work overtime. I used to work a lot of overtime.
At another service a few years ago, I worked 12 hour day shifts, on a rotating schedule. I think they are called California 12s or something like that. So I would work Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, then Thursday, and that would repeat every pay period. It was an interesting shift, to say the least. It wasn’t uncommon for me to simply stay on the ambulance at the time.
I would go into work at 6 in the morning on a Monday, and would literally stay on the ambulance until 6 in the morning Wednesday. I would routinely work 36 and 48 hour shifts.
I got burnt out, and quickly.
When I left to join Local Ambulance, I began working 24s, and I would routinely stay after my shift for another 12, and sometimes 24 hours.
The money was fantastic. But it took a toll on me.
It all culminated a few years ago when I lost control of my emotions on a scene. I spoke to a patient’s family member in an incredibly condescending manner. Without going into details, suffice it to say that I was incredibly rude, terse, and inappropriate. I received a well-deserved complaint, the first of my career.
Instead of being fired, which my boss had every right to do, I was given an unpaid suspension for three shifts. That hurt my bottom line, and it took about a month to recover financially. But my boss gave me a gift at the same time: some time off.
During that time off, I learned that the buckets of money weren’t worth it. The big checks aren’t worth coming home tired, cranky, and burned out. That was almost three years ago, and I haven’t worked an extra shift on an ambulance since.
I will occasionally work an extra shift on a standby event or something, but that is only about twice a year.
While being a paramedic is part of my life, it is only a small part. I am not a paramedic when I come home at the end of my shift, I am daddy.
Now, I get to spend my off time playing with my children. I take my son to Kindergarten in the mornings, and I pick him up in the afternoon. About once a week, I take him to get ice cream on the way home, and I get to spend very important time with him. At night, I rock my little princess to sleep while singing to her, and in the morning, I pick her up out of her crib. Then I get to make breakfast for my family, and we get to eat together. My son helps me cook dinner on the grill, and we all eat at the table as a family. I play trains and superheroes with my son, and have tea parties with my daughter. We play “get daddy” when we are all home, and someone usually laughs so hard they pee a little bit.
Now that I work 12 hour shifts again, I get to be home roughly half of every month. I get to spend my time at work with a man I consider to be part of my family, Slimm. Then I come home to my home family.
That time at home is worth an immeasurable amount more than any overtime shift I could ever, ever work. I would rather stretch money a little further in order to spend my time with my family.
There is no amount of money anyone could pay me to give up that time with my family.