There are a few things that are certain about Air Traffic Control as a career:
1 - The schedule is crazy. Whether I claim to like it or not, working two nights-three days, three nights-two days, or two nights-two days-mid is NOT healthy for humans. I think my best alternative would be working five night shifts, but I pretend to have a social life after my day shifts occasionally.
2 - This job is stressful. I have only recently realized what this means, although I'm not sure if has to do with the soulless, windowless room that I work in, full of computer air or the actual controlling of airplanes. Sometimes its none of the above, sometimes is some of the above, and sometimes its everything and I just want a month off.
The FAA begrudgingly throws money at us to make us stop complaining about how stressful it can be working a crappy schedule. But is that why we make decent money?
Apparently, money is supposed to make me less tired at 4am when I have ZERO airplanes and there is nothing to do but stare at a blank computer screen. Fun experiment: At 12am tonight, turn off all the lights in your house, except for a reading light nearby, sit in front of your computer screen, and stay up until 5:30am. Emailing, reading, phone calls, text messaging, listening to music and "cat naps" are not permitted. Did you make it? Nice job! Do that again every Friday night for the next 20 years. Act professional, stay awake, and quit your bitchin'.
So, I'd like to say that I'm glad this is something we can finally talk about. We have a problem that has not been addressed. Controllers are tired at 3am. Shocker. So instead of ignoring it until we get caught (oh, wait, we're talking about this because we DID get caught), lets do something about it that makes sense and helps us perform our jobs effectively 24/7. None of us like being really tired. Those of us that work the Mid tend to start our weekend off half-dead. This schedule is slowly killing all of us. So lets be open to change for the better. This is an opportunity to increase the safety of the NAS.
Also, I'd be willing to start a conversation about truth number 2 at any time. Stress seems to be something that controllers shrug off. Its an inside joke. But maybe there are ways we can make the stress screw us up less. I can feel it building sometimes, and I don't know what to do about it. Oh wait, I'm not supposed to talk about that. Sorry.
Till next time...
That is all I have to say about this.
Oh. NERD ALERT: I read the entire Northeast US Airport Facility Directory (AFD) to stay awake one night. The preferred routes to the Cape were on page 444. Not sure if that is still true....(FAA related documents are approved reading).