It is 10:45pm and Janu Sakpal walks into the Juhu petrol pump to begin his night shift as a fuel station attendant. He quickly changes into his uniform and busies himself with the chores for the night. While night shifts may sound too strenuous for most, 62-year-old Sakpal, who has been working at fuel stations for over four decades, prefers working at night over day.
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“As fewer vehicles come in during the night it is a more relaxed shift. Usually we have to stand for long hours, but at night I can sit in between work. With my disabled legs and old age, this comfort feels good,” he says. During their eight-hour shift, the five staff on night duty can even take turns to catch a two-hour nap.
However, working at night also has its fair share of difficulties. The staff roster changes every 10 days, making him switch between different shifts. But Sakpal doesn’t complain. He says it takes him just a day to get used to his new shift.
“During the night, roads are emptier so chances of customers fuelling and driving away without paying are higher. They give us duplicate cards and by the time we realise it, they flee. Not only do we have to pay that amount from our pockets, such customers can also be dangerous for us.”
A native of a village in Sindhudurg district, Sakpal eagerly awaits his retirement in December to return to his hometown. He has been in Mumbai since 1971 and he misses his village. “Mumbai is nothing like my village. Everything from water to food is different here. My brother still lives in the village and after retirement, I hope to join him,” Sakpal says.