Torchwood isn’t a job; it’s a way of life.
When you think of a job, you think of something with regular hours, or set shifts, somewhere you have at least one day off each week, and maybe the whole weekend if you’re lucky. Torchwood doesn’t have regular office hours because the Rift doesn’t work to a schedule and aliens don’t phone ahead asking if this would be a convenient time for them to invade earth.
Torchwood agents are on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks of the year. And yes, that does include Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and bank holidays. If you have to go to the dentist, or want to get your hair done, you have to just book an appointment and hope the world doesn’t decide to end on the day you’ve booked.
With a job, you get vacation time, and you can make a reservation somewhere nice months in advance. In Torchwood, it’s a case of, “The Rift monitor says the next few days should be quiet, so try to get some rest, enjoy yourselves, but keep your mobiles switched on and don’t go far.”
If you actually want to go away somewhere, you just have to hope a quiet Rift period coincides with the team being healthy, uninjured and not bordering on exhaustion. Then you check the last minute flights and available hotels, hope your passport is up to date, and that the place you wind up staying is reasonably habitable, then tell Jack and head out before an unanticipated attempted invasion changes your plans.
Life has to be snatched in the rare moments when work lets up enough for you to catch your breath. There are periods of frantic activity, when you’re working day and night, surviving on cat-naps and takeaways, and there are periods when doing normal things like going to the movies or having a day at the beach seem like the could actually be possible. If you weren’t so damned exhausted and didn’t need to catch up on the laundry because you don’t have anything clean left to wear.
But then you think of a job with regular hours and days off, where everything happens as planned, week in and week out, with only the occasional personal crisis to interrupt the flow of days, and you can’t help thinking, you’d be bored to death inside a week. Because once you’ve worked for Torchwood, become accustomed to the adrenaline rush and the constant uncertainty, nothing else could even come close.