Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Butterfly Shift

It's my first night off since I don't know when, and I'm sitting here at my apartment doing laundry and eating hot & sour soup from the Chinese place downstairs.  Don't be jealous of my French life.

I don't even know what day it is because I work weekends and get 2 weekdays off, and I just got done w/ three consecutive butterfly shifts (8am-8pm), which apparently used to be called the "hell shift" by the office staff, until the manager requested something nicer sounding.  Voila, butterfly shift. 8-8.

A 12-hour work day may not normally be so bad if it was a desk job.  But I've come to realize that I haven't had an active on-your-feet-all-day job in years (if ever, to this degree), and it just produces a different kind of worn-out at the end of the day.

(By the way, my washing machine, which fits about 5 tshirts per load and also take 17 hours per load, sounds like a rocket ship that is about to take off right now.  I mean it is seconds from blast-off.  I fully expect it to go flying through the roof at any moment. I'm not exaggerating when I say the walls are kind of shaking, and I'm slightly concerned.)

The first time I did a load of laundry, that towel & Kleenex box went flying. 

Back to work.  For anyone remotely interested (i.e. my mom & best friends), to give an idea of what work is like...I present to you a typical butterfly shift:

-Early wake-up

-Brisk & speedy walk to work, past 2 tempting bakeries, where I repeat to myself the new rule: "No breakfast pastries allowed."  (Until my days off. More on this later).

-After a 20 minute walk, arrive and start hauling out the big metal sign boards, followed by 50-60 fairly gigantic bikes up a couple steps, and line them up outside.  

-Get 50 people into two groups, on bikes, and off to the train station for the 9am Versailles tour.

-Go with the group by bike to the station, go in ahead of them and feed the train tickets through the turnstile, bungee cord a door open, then help the group carry their bikes down the stairs, and help haul bikes onto the train.
     (Side note--The train door opens for about 15 seconds, where you get 4-6 people to charge through the nearest open train door w/ their bikes, usually into a sea of people.  We tell them it's like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, and you just have to charge forth into a full train of people, where there is seemingly zero room, through a door that is not all that big, with two poles in the way, with your giganto bikes.  And often w/ an additional tandem bike attachment for kids with a huge metal basket cart on it, that's about 6 feet long, super heavy & awkward to maneuver, which I almost impaled a guy in the head with the other day while trying to get it on before the doors slammed shut.  I once saw a tour guide fling herself between the closing train doors and almost get cut in half in order to get the rest of her group on the train.  It's crazy.)  Okay now that group is on the train.  Repeat and do it all over again w/ group 2, which is just around the corner.

-Bike back to the office, through traffic, with no helmet.  Try not to get hit by cars.  This is kind of humorous, considering that I wouldn't even bike to the mail box at home without my helmet on, or the 3 minute ride to work down a practically deserted side road where I would nary see a single car...and now I'm biking down a legitimate boulevard with delivery trucks passing by in the same lane.  I know my mom will email me in about 5 minutes concerning the helmet matter.  

-Back at the office, to help: 9:30am Segway group, 10am walking tour, bring out more bikes, 11am bike tours

-Take 5 minutes to run and get a 9 foot baguette, tell yourself you'll eat half and save the rest for dinner. Proceed to eat all of it.

-9:30 Segway group comes back, 2pm Segway group goes out, 11am groups come back, 3pm groups go out.

-Bring bikes in/out.

-2 hour "pause" during the day may now include hauling boxes of wine to the scary underground storage facility that has 19 different steel doors to open and close along the way; bringing up cases of cokes/candy/cups; hauling boxes/bags of t-shirts; or stacking 36-pack cases of bottled water that get delivered by the pallet-full. Work up a sweat and repeat the words "pastry cream" silently to yourself.

-Both Versailles tours, 2pm Segways, & 3pm bike tour groups come back in waves. People everywhere.

-6:30pm Segway group goes out, and the last hurrah, the 7pm night bike group of 40-60 people through the office and out the door.

-Bring all remaining bikes & signs into the office.


-Walk home 20 min, up the stairs to the apartment, a couple hours to eat, check some emails, and get ready for bed, because 7:30am is coming early.

Oh and you're old and you eat too many pastries and you're used to sitting at a desk for the past 7 years of your life, only getting up once per day for a lunch break or a rigorous 30-second walk to the restroom.

I genuinely have no idea what part of the week we're in.  All I know's weekend time for me, and that makes me so happy.


  1. I love that the kleenex (excuse me, the Aliza box) went flying during the first load of laundry. I assume you've secure it with some sort of invisible bungee aparatus by now?

  2. I don't know why but I can't stop laughing at your comment!! Can you imagine...just a giant bungee cord wrapped around the machine holding the Alizas in place? I must look into this genius solution!