Many lifetimes ago, when I was living in Anchorage, Alaska, I wanted nothing more that to work on the slope. I wanted to be part of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and travel north, to the Arctic Circle. I wanted to do shift work at one of the pump-stations, make loads of money, and have time off to spend it.
Instead, I was temping with an engineering company in the city making okay money but working for a boss who put the micro into micro-management. I was obviously impressing them though because they figured it wouldn’t be long before I found something more permanent. They asked me to give them two weeks’ notice if and when I decided to leave. I agreed.
While working there, I spent my lunchtimes trying to get hired on with Alyeska, through their temp agency. One day, the phone call came. It was a Thursday afternoon. They had an opening at Pump-station 9. Starting Tuesday. It was mine if I wanted it.
I said that I couldn’t go. I explained that I had promised that I’d give two weeks’ notice and that I’d be happy to go when that was up. A rant ensued. I was naive. An idiot. Did I think for one minute that if they wanted to let me go they’d be so considerate? Did I realise how hard it was to get a posting up the slope? Why was I being so stupid? If I didn’t take this offer, I’d go to the end of the list and chances are that I would never make a slope contract at all.
I was gutted. I wanted to go, but I’d given my word. And no matter what justifications I used, I couldn’t see my way to breaking it. I never did get to work on the slope.
Fast forward to this week. One client sounded me out about possibly going to South America for a conference. Yes, please, I thought. But when I checked my calendar I saw that I’d two workshops booked that week. I was tempted to cancel, reorganise, postpone – it’s not often I get invited so far afield. But I’d given my word. I had to say that I wasn’t available. But I was gutted.
But then another client asked if I’d be free to go to India on a week that suited me any time before the end of the year. No hesitation there. I found two possible free weeks in December that would involve not attending just one social event, an invite that I’d maybe’d rather than committed to. Happy days. No going back on my word. No disappointments. The proverbial doors opening and closing on schedule. Now I just have to figure out a way to add some days to either end of a packed 5-day programme. And if this is the only challenge I face this week, what’s not to be grateful for?