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Area workers choose night shifts for pay, preference

President Barack Obama has pledged to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour.

While many debate whether a raise in wages would help or hurt the economy, some have found that working at night is not only a way to make more money, but some have found enjoyment in the lifestyle change.

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“It allows me to have the daylight hours to take care of any business I need to take care of, appointments, banking, etc.,” Stephanie Watts said. “When most people are at work I am free to schedule things at my leisure.”

Watts, 34, lives in Lancaster and works as a station agent for Amtrak. She works two different shifts, but both start after 5 p.m. She receives 50 cents more to work overnight, but says she prefers it for other reasons.

“I wouldn’t trade my night shift for a day shift even if they offered me a pay increase,” She said. “The night shift is a different world and it’s a world I love because I always have a story to tell the next day.

“Just this week alone I’ve been a part of a crime investigation, had to assist a passenger with first aid and calling EMS, seen a drug/illegal handgun arrest in the parking lot and watched as countless people come in and out the doors here with interesting stories to tell.”

Renee Ellis works in Lancaster as a graphic designer at night, but not for the same reasons was Watts. Ellis admits she couldn’t afford to lose the $1.50-differential.

“I am barely making enough now after taxes and healthcare comes out of my paycheck to make all the bill payments,” she said. “I think most people … work third shift not because they want to but because they need to for the extra money.”

Then there is the exception to the rule.

Brian Widmayer, 26, lives in Dover Township and is a real estate contractor. He can choose his own hours, and works mostly during the day. He calls it his “normal” job. When not at his day job, Widmayer is the deputy chief for the┬áDover Township Fire Department.

He volunteers his nights.

“Unfortunately being a volunteer firefighter is free,” Widmayer said. He doesn’t get a pay increase for working nights, and admits a good night of sleep is hard to come by. “I have mastered the art of cat naps. These 15 minute recharge naps can make up for a busy night of protecting the community.”

Widmayer sleeps at the fire station, and says that emergencies that occur overnight are usually the most severe because the people calling it in were probably sleeping while the emergency, such as a fire, most likely worsened.

Though he admits his day job affords him a good living, he often has to work on little sleep, and is sometimes forced to cancel appointments because of an emergency. But Widmayer enjoys himself, and takes pride in volunteering.

“I devote a large portion of my life to the fire department. I do this because I love giving back to community and being a part of a great organization.”