"I've been working shift work virtually all my life," says Lee Moses, who began his career as an air-traffic controller in the military in 1952.
Moses currently is an evaluation proficiency development specialist at National Airport: "I evaluate and develop training programs, do training, in addition to which I have to maintain proficiency as an air-traffic controller--a minimum of 30 to 35 hours a month."
He alternates between the "evening watch" (3 to 11 p.m.) and the "day watch" (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Basically he works six days on and two days off for a nine-week period (which includes three successive weekends off, two of them three-day breaks).
Because he was working shifts when he and his wife Elaine were married 21 years ago, "there was a familiarity with it and an unconscious program that had been established."
Elaine Moses--who went back to work full-time four years ago, when their children were older--now works as an accounting firm executive secretary 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"There are advantages," says Lee Moses. "From the family standpoint we've rarely had problems. When the kids (a girl, 19, and boy, 17) were preschool it actually gave me more hours with them.
"But when they were in school and I was working evenings and off on weekends, there were five days when I didn't see them. But my wife always made a point of the importance of me being there and the kids were all hopped up and waiting for me to get home. It's a really good feeling."
An underlying bonus of shift work, in Moses' view: "It gives each of us some space for ourselves, without taking away from the other."
Although Elaine Moses acknowledges advantages of shift work, "I have to have a calendar six months in advance with when he's working and when he's off, otherwise we couldn't cope with simple appointments and things. We can't do anything on a regular basis. We can't get season tickets to anything; we can't take a course together.
"However, I think that overall the shift work has not harmed our marriage or family life. The biggest disadvantage to me personally is that I miss him at dinnertime and the long evenings. But in spite of his shift work, we really have a very traditional family life."