(DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to rag on Matt's employer. We love them and all that they've provided for us. We recognize what a blessing they are - yeah, American Waste!)
Despite the craziness of the job market Matt works for a growing company. They aren't without problems, however.
Matt works for a garbage company - when it comes to paying monthly bills a lot of people are choosing to ignore the garbage bill (let's face it - the electricity is much more important than having you trash collected). Between that and the gas prices (last summer really hurt them) the company isn't making a whole lot of extra money, even though they're gaining new customers each month.
Even though things aren't going perfectly, the owners are taking care of their employees: no lay-offs. Instead they're cutting as much as they can to make it possible to keep everyone working (and paid!).
Remember when I said the company is growing? Well, it's not just growing - it's multiplying. Matt works at the recycle center (where they sort and bale recyclables to ship out to recycling companies). The building was built with the idea that they would produce "X" amount of bales to ship out each year. But with the new green movement, the fact that free recycling bins help cut garbage costs for individuals, and the company continually buying out/picking up new business each month the original estimate is kinda of low. In fact, if I heard Matt correctly, they now bale/ship FOUR TIMES the original "X" amount of bales!
What does this mean for Matt? When he started there in 2006 he worked 45-55 hour weeks during the summer (the busy season). In 2007 it was 50-60 hours. Last year he was recovering from surgery and was only allowed to work up to 50 hours, but the other guys ran a consistent 60 with a few weeks over that. And this summer? I think the last six weeks Matt has put in 70 hours per week. SEVENTY!
The hardest thing about his schedule is what it does to his social life. He has to get up at 4:15 every morning so Matt has to choose: friends or sleep. When he was fighting the cancer it was no question - sleep always won. Not so much anymore.
I know it's not easy for him. I know he's tired, which makes him crabby. And then he misses events which makes him crabbier still. It's a no-win right now. I've tried to be patient and as helpful as possible because I know this is hard for him. At least, I thought I knew how hard it was for him. I didn't really. Not until this morning.
Last night Matt wanted to sacrifice the sleep to hangout with friends and watch a baseball game (we had free tickets). No problem. We did. And then this morning I drove him to work so that I can pick him after and drive straight to my parents'. By the time we got home and got to bed it was 11:30 last night. The alarm went of at 3:50 this morning (they started work early).
Matt dressed, got some breakfast, and headed out. I struggled. My eyes burned. My lids drooped. Nothing in my brain wanted to get up. I couldn't wait to get home and crawl back into bed.
Then it hit me...Matt does this six days a week.
There are a few nights when he's lucky enough to get seven hours of sleep (eight hours every couple of weeks) but most nights he catches five to six hours. Then he works 10-12 hour days of physical, dirty labor.
I got to come back home and go to sleep...Matt never has that option. He gets up and goes to work so we can eat...so we can buy a house...so we can live debt free. Sometimes he complains about it, but not often. He just does what he has to do: he provides for our household, regardless of how much sleep he gets.
I couldn't do that. I wouldn't even want to try. This morning I got the faintest glimpse of what Matt sacrifices for us. I am in awe of him, and so proud of what he does. He's my hero.