CINCINNATI—According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor, skyrocketing consumer prices coupled with stagnant wages have forced many Americans to work a fourth shift in another dimension in order to make ends meet.
The extra-dimensional shift, which occurs on a time axis at right angles to that of normal reality, allows American workers to supplement their incomes, while still maintaining the morning, afternoon, and overnight shifts they need in order to stave off bankruptcy.
"The maximum 24 hours of possible work time offered by our plane of existence is simply not enough to provide a living wage in the current economic climate," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao wrote in a letter introducing the report. "These difficult circumstances have compelled 76 percent of the American workforce to seek additional hours in an alternate space-time dimension, where more competitive pay can help them to avoid years of crippling debt."
Many cash-strapped citizens such as Glenn Vernacini, a master welder at the GE aviation plant in Evendale, OH, have welcomed the opportunity to pad their income by working extra shifts in lateral time, only to return at the exact same moment they left. Vernacini, however, admitted that his regular trips to the alternate universe have taken their toll.
"It's hard, but what other option do I have?" Vernacini said. "Having every atom in my body split and retranslated into a different form of matter just to make a few extra bucks isn't exactly my idea of fun, but my family needs to eat."
"I age an extra eight hours every time I work the fourth shift, and it's really starting to wear me down," Vernacini continued. "And having to buy a new shirt every time my body is flattened out to 4,000 times its usual surface area is one more strain on my budget that I don't need."
Some businesses have already installed a rip in the space-time continuum in their break-room areas so that employees can report for work in the other dimension as soon as their Earth shifts end. People who regularly work the fourth shift have reported that the tasks they perform are more or less exactly the same as during their other shifts, though they have to contend with frequent plasma storms and occasionally meet themselves leaving for one shift as they arrive for another, which can be demoralizing.
"The worst part about my job in the other dimension is trying to digest the silica-based food product they serve in the cafeteria," said Thomas Kinney, a line inspector who takes on a fourth shift three days a week at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in alternate Atlanta, GA. "It's probably the most painful part of working a fourth shift. That, and not getting to see my kids grow up."
People across the country have reported similar problems associated with working extra hours in another dimension. The biggest complaint arises from the fact that work time continues in the fourth shift when the employee is not working there. This often results in workers arriving to find that they are far behind in their labor and have to stay longer in the alternate dimension in order to catch up.
"This is just another big 'screw you' to hardworking Americans," said single mother Laura Tanner, who often works concurrent fourth shifts as both a cashier at an area Citgo station and a nursing home caregiver. "Did you know my employer doesn't cover my health insurance while I'm in the other realm? And just yesterday I arrived at my alternate work and, looking at the schedule, discovered that I had somehow convinced myself to pick up my own fourth shift the following evening. What am I supposed to do about that?"
An economic stimulus package from the other plane of existence is expected to provide some relief to those who work the extra-dimensional shift. However, most American workers remain skeptical that the plan will provide any real help, as it is slated to arrive just after it is spent.