The concrete plant hummed twenty-four hours a day. The cranes and blondins swung fast and furious to-and-fro without ceasing. My first job out of college was on the concrete crew building a big dam in a remote part of Africa.

I had been accustomed to a student’s schedule. Study (or sometimes drink) until late at night; arise late in the morning; stumble to class; long lunches solving political problems; sleepy afternoon labs; leisurely five-o’clock tea-time; a run; supper; and back to my books.

I was totally unprepared for the first two months of work: One week ,on from six in the morning until six at night. The next week on from six at night until six in the morning. True the stars of a clear desert sky are awesome; true the soft surge of a mighty river snaking black across the hot sands is poetic; and true the sun rising over the purple hills is a welcome relief. But what horrible physical pain and discomfort are involved in swapping shifts every week from day to night.

I was promoted and graduated to the luxury of shift foreman and an eight-hour shift. Now we worked from six ‘til two, from two ‘til ten, and from ten ‘til six, changing shift every week. Harder work, more responsibility, more physical and mental disruption. No wonder I fled back to University and masters degree as fast as I could. I have not worked nightshift since.

These memories are prompted by browsing the website of CORE PRACTICE PARTNERS LLC. They are an international company specializing in helping companies that do not work nine ‘til five. In other words they consult to companies that have to get folk like the young me to work from ten at night and through the midnight hour to sunrise and who cannot flee to the comfort of academia.

I read all I could of their fine papers that seek to answer key questions like: “No matter how well you schedule, it will never be perfect. Learn how to avoid hidden costs and save your organization millions of dollars through the right labor strategy.”

Who could resist this introduction to their section on mining: “If you have the right equipment and employees at the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost, you have the perfect business schedule and need read no further.” Of course no mine reaches this level of perfection, and hence could probably benefit from the services of Ethan Franklin and John W. Frehse, the two partners who run the company.

I browsed their Knowledge Center. I learnt some, I was informed some, but I did not find the answer to how a young man adjusts to the life of a contractor working the dark hours when he knows his friends are cavorting and partying. Maybe somebody will send this piece to them and seek their explanation?