Come, take a walk in my shoes as I recount my experience from an extra shift that I agreed to work last Friday night.
4:20PM: See a pedestrian almost get hit in the gas station parking lot while getting gas on my way to the extra shift. Consider this a bad omen for the night to follow.
4:45PM: Arrive at extra shift. I will be working at a regular recreation centre tonight (not seniors-only, like my day job). I am the only “supervisor” in the building – ie. the one who can lock up at the end of the night. The lifeguards leave at 7:30PM and then it’s just myself, a 16-year-old Program Leader (the second, 20-year-old Program Leader is scheduled to leave at 8PM) and a 20-year old Receptionist until 10:00PM. The first three hours are spent running a program called “Friday Fun Night,” and the remaining two hours are spent running gym programs. Start praying that nothing major goes wrong while it’s just me in charge.
4:55PM: Start wondering where my second Program Leader is. Vaguely remember him saying a couple weeks ago that he was going to tell our manager that there were a couple shifts coming up that he couldn’t work and would require coverage for. Have a feeling that tonight was one of them. However, I had double-checked with said manager earlier in the week to ensure that I had two Program Leaders for this shift. The last shift I worked here was a mess – very little staff and it was super busy – so I wanted to ensure there were enough staff this week. Email back from manager earlier in week stated that “tonight’s shift should be covered by two leaders.” I was a little apprehensive coming in tonight as I did not receive a definite answer from her.
5:00PM: Computer not working at front desk. Major issues processing participants for programs. Since this is a different computer program than I use at my regular job, I am of absolutely no help to the receptionist. I feel useless!
5:30PM: Computer finally working. Called second Program Leader and confirmed that YES, he had discussed having tonight off with the manager, who said that she had found coverage for him. Tried to track down manager. She’s gone for the night. So is supervisor. Go figure – four supervisors in on the previous night (Thursday) and none in tonight. Hope that it’s not as busy as last week, when this same thing happened and we reached capacity in the gym with just myself and one other staff being here.
5:35PM: Realize that a parent is still sitting in the lobby who dropped children off at 5PM. I remind him that the program is for three hours – was he aware he could go home and come back? He tells me he has a child with special needs in the program, so has to stay as he realizes there is “only one staff in the room with the kids. Is there someone else who can provide one-on-one supervision with his child?” I explain that I will be around, but will not be able to be in there permanently with his child. I did not even see this child come in amongst all the other issues currently going on. Go into room to talk to the other staff member, to inform him that a) other staff are definitely not coming in and b) this child’s parent is waiting outside if there are any problems.
6:30PM: Run back and forth like a chicken with my head cut off between gym/office/program. At one point, I literally am running, while playing a game with the kids that involves running back and forth across the gym (it’s in a high school, so the gym is huge). The other staff is getting equipment from another location. (I offered to do that, but he said he “knew exactly what he needed, so it’s easier if he goes.” I think he just really needed a break and I totally understood that, after what I’m about to tell you.) I am “It” and have to continue being “It” until I catch a kid. I cannot catch one after two laps back and forth. I’m getting exhausted and I wonder aloud, “how can’t I catch anyone?” Keep in mind, these kids range in age from 5-11 years old. I get told by the youngest one – the five-year-old – “you grown-ups need to run faster.” Unbeknownst to him, I’m honestly running as fast as I can.
6:40PM: Other staff member comes back to gym and thankfully I can go catch my breath somewhere else. I ask this staff member if the kids are just really fast, or if I am just really slow. He doesn’t have an answer for me.
7:00PM: Receive complaint that a change room smells like urine. Go to investigate. Hope this doesn’t put me off from eating my dinner. Luckily, no smell of urine detected. Don’t know why people make things up.
7:45PM: Kids now watching a movie before parents come pick them up at 8PM. I enter room and see the youngest child laying on his back (the five-year-old who had called me slow), with his feet in the air, and his bum close to the staff member’s face. I ask the staff what that child is doing. He tells me he is trying to fart on him.
8PM – Must diffuse situation at front desk with disgruntled participant. Threaten him that if he does not stop arguing with me, I will be refusing him entry. He finally calms down and goes to the change room, mumbling under his breath.
8:30PM: Things finally calm down. The kids’ program is over; all have gone home by now. The gym program is now going on and thankfully less busy than last week, when we reached capacity.
10:00PM: Lock up and go home…exhausted. Find it ironic that tonight was anything but “Friday Fun Night!”