As family members poured into the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office in hopes of spending just a little time with loved ones for the holidays, corrections officer Seth Mayo spent his Christmas as a gatekeeper, making sure things were running smoothly for inmates and visitors alike.
“It’s definitely been busier than usual,” said Mayo around noon during his12-hour shift managing the front desk at the jail. “But I don’t mind it.”
For public safety officials, going to work during the holidays is just part of the job. At the Anniston Fire Department on Wednesday, Capt. Katherine Meherg was managing a usual crew of about 21 firefighters, who in between watching “A Christmas Story” on TV were ready at a moment’s notice to respond to any emergency calls.
“It’s a little more quiet around the station,” said Meherg, who said some normal activities like training and certain cleaning duties get shut down on the holidays. “But out there, it’s just like any other day. We got three medical calls in the first 15 minutes of today’s shift.”
For Mayo, despite the heavy traffic in and out of the jail on Wednesday, Christmas is actually a lighter shift than usual.
“There’s no court today,” he said. “So I’m not bringing anyone back and forth which is nice.”
It’s not just public safety officials, though, who have to work through the holidays. Darcy Gildon, a guest services agent at the Oxford Hilton Garden Inn, said while occupancy tends to be light on Christmas Day, there are still folks who need rooms and still a need for someone at the front desk to check them in.
“Nights, weekends, that’s just part of the business,” said Gildon, who’s worked in hotels for 10 years. “We have guests and someone needs to be here to take care of them.”
And just because most retail outlets and restaurants aren’t serving on Dec. 25, that doesn’t mean people aren’t still on the road, in need of fuel and snacks.
“It’s been over-busy,” said Brittany Holland, an employee at the Exxon Food Mart on Hamric Drive in Oxford, who noted that very few convenience stores open their doors on Christmas. “But I guess it’s good for business.”
Holland said because she doesn’t have kids, she volunteered to work the night shift at Exxon on Christmas Day.
“I don’t care when I work,” Holland said. “Somebody needs to be here.”
And just doing the job that needs to be done seems to be what gets most workers through a holiday shift.
“The hospitality industry is 24 hours,” Gildon said. “On the holidays people are lonely; they want to know someone will be here to check them in when they get here.”
Anniston firefighter Justin Shake said he grew up in a firefighter household. His father, who works for the Oxford Fire Department, also had to put in 24 hours on Wednesday.
“Our family just celebrated yesterday,” Shake said. “We always have to make adjustments.”
Officer Mayo said things were emotional for his family when they knew he wouldn’t be coming home on Christmas Day. But for him, working this Wednesday wasn’t too different than working any other Wednesday.
“I don’t really mind working Christmas,” Mayo said. “Somebody’s got to do it.”
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.