Posted by: Rob | October 20, 2009

The Job Track, Part 2

Picking up from yesterday.

I asked for a personal leave the day AJ offered me a new role on site. I took the role, but I needed some time to take care of myself.

I came back to work a little over two months later at the start of 2007. Although somewhat better, I was still a long way from what could be considered my “A game”. I went through the motions for pretty much a year or a little more, living pretty much on my past reputation and a bit of what must be a genetic gift – “blarney”.

The new job was in a different business, a different technology. Simpler, really, than what I had been working with the past eleven years. The plant was about the newest on site and had always been regarded from every other plant as a glittering palace of sorts. Xanadu. The Taj Mahal.

In reality, I found it to be a classic case of “The grass is greener”. It’s not. Not really.

AJ landed a job that took him back south in mid ‘07. Home. He’s a native born Texan. At his going away party he told me that if I was ever interested in a project job, to let him know. He’d be glad to have me on this team. So, I essentially had a standing invitation, were circumstances right. Amazing, I thought. He had definitely seen me at my worst and hadn’t really worked with me much at my best. Made me think about the kind of impression I must have made over the years. Something I rarely consider as I go about doing my thing.

I didn’t give AJ’s offer much thought after that. By then I was sponsoring my new wife and step daughter for permanent residency in Canada.

I didn’t give it much thought, that is, until late in ’07 AJ landed a project manager job on the Saudi Arabian project. He called me soon after to see if I still had any interest in working on a major project.

I talked it over with Ann and we decided we should go for it. In a way, it was coming back to an old track. There had been a time, a few years earlier, when the discussion around the empty nest table had gone in the direction of the possibilities of an assignment or job in the Middle East. It would only have to be an ex-pat posting of about five years or so. Long enough to accumulate a sizable enough nest egg to return home and launch a new entrepreneurial enterprise.

The toughest thing was going to get a release from my current role and business. Normally you are supposed to be in a job for at least three years before requesting a change. I was looking at slightly less than a year. And in a job to which I had been redeployed. Talk about coming off as ungrateful.

But what was there to lose? I had discussions with my leader and got the ball rolling on the process. Truth is I had to make veiled threats. The job market was hot in our area at the time and virtual legions of engineers were pulling their freight and moving to greener pastures. And this in spite of retention incentives.

Despite my leader’s initial downplaying of the possibility of my successfully getting the new role, he was actually soon well on the way to accommodating my wanton wishes, even to the point of lining up a backfill.

Then a combination of a schedule slowdown on the MidEast project, a reluctance to add staff and an attack of “cold feet” kicked in. At the time, the immediate relocation was to be to Houston, TX. At home, we weighed the pros and cons. Ann and Dee were barely settled in here, with Dee just getting accustomed to her school, making friends and all that other kid stuff. Applications for permanent residence were in the works but had not yet been approved. It didn’t seem like it was really worth it to uproot everyone and move to the US Gulf Coast where we would almost be prisoners indoors due to the hot and humid climate. Worth what? More money? More money seemed to be the only pro against a long list of cons and that was the least of all motivators.  So, in the middle of ’08 I essentially put the brakes on everything I had set in motion six months before.

…to be continued.



  1. “living pretty much on my past reputation and a bit of what must be a genetic gift – “blarney”.”

    i know this. you had more compelling reasons for your “going through the motions”… i just burnt out.

    looking forward to the rest of the story!

  2. it’s like a roller coaster. you always look for things that would be fun, yet stable. the realities of life, though, seem to stare you in the mirror each morning as to what you really want.

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