One day last week, I drove out to a job site to inspect some work that was being completed on one of my projects. As is often the case, the foreman on the job was actually a woman. But what caught me off guard was that she was fluently calling out orders in Spanish to the laborers who were lugging bags of concrete and materials from one end of the site to the other.
I couldn't help but smile.
Here was this petite little woman, no taller than 5 feet and weighing no more than 100 pounds, directing men who were at least a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier around a busy construction site. She had complete confidence in all aspects of the job and I loved seeing her at work.
After I introduced myself and went through a brief health and safety overview, I asked her a little bit about herself. What was her academic background? What is her title? How much experience does she have? Could she teach me to speak Spanish - or at least understand it?
Over the next few hours, we would talk whenever we had a spare moment.
I learned that she is a civil engineer. She worked as a facilities maintenance engineer for a major oil company for 14 years. She was responsible for building gas stations across the country and she traveled extensively. She is happily married and has a four-year-old daughter. Her husband started his own construction business a few years ago and in early 2007, he convinced her to give up her busy career and stay home to raise their little girl. Soon after she resigned her position, they bought four-acres of land in Escondido and set about building their dream home.
As they got closer to finishing the construction, they moved all of their belongings in to a modular home that was situated on the four-acre parcel. The plan was that they would slowly begin transitioning their furniture in to the new house. But the new house wasn't finished quite yet. And because it wasn't finished, it wasn't insured.
And then, there was a fire.
A big fire.
A fire that wiped out their entire neighborhood and burned their new home and their modular home (with all of their possessions inside) to the ground. They lost everything. They literally ran away with their lives, the clothes on their backs and their dog. All of their furniture, pictures, electronics, you name it, were gone. For a few weeks they slept in guestrooms. They borrowed friends' clothing. And then, she began looking for a new job.
Two years later, she is extremely thankful that she had her education and experience to fall back on. Because her husband lost all of his tools in the fire, and the economy took a nose dive, his newly formed business dissolved. So she secured a position working for a consulting firm.
These days she is working full-time (again) and her husband is home raising their daughter. They don't know what they are going to do. They've tried to sell their charred property but nobody wants it. They've tried to rebuild but there have been financial restrictions. They're currently living in another smaller modular home and saddled with a mortgage payment for four-acres of land with no permanent structure.
She says that despite the turmoil her family has endured over the past two years, and even though she gave up her big career with a major oil company - with her pension and outstanding benefits and potential for incredible growth - she is genuinely happy.
A few weeks ago, I was surfing around on the internet and found a job opening, in South Carolina, that I thought would be right up Charlie's alley. With my husband's knowledge, I tailored his resume to fit the position and I crafted a cover letter that I thought would call out his strengths for this particular role. And then, once he read it over and gave it the nod, I submitted it. This past week, Charlie got a call from the company that is hiring.
They want him. Badly.
But the new job would come with a lot of travel. Or at least 25% of the time, Charlie would be on the road. The new job would mean a pay cut, at least temporarily. And the new job will most likely not be able to relocate us, so all of our moving expenses would be out of pocket. But, the new job would quite possibly be something that my husband would truly love. It would call upon his academic training and it would tap in to his experience as a consultant and college professor.
(And, it would still allow him the opportunity to continue working on his business that he started earlier this year. You know, between the quiet hours of 2 and 4 AM.)
There's absolutely no correlation between these two stories. I'm just completely unsure what we should be doing right now. My job is secure at the moment and there is no reason to leave. Of course the possibility exists that I could be relocated to the east coast at some point in the future. But do I want to continue working (and stressing about working) as much as I have been?
For the past month, I've been largely without a work computer and I am becoming more and more frustrated with the feeling that I am so far behind I will never get caught up. Maybe this is a sign to turn in the defunct laptop and say, "Thanks for the laughs. Bye bye!"?
It just feels like we're wandering around with no clear direction. And yet, it seems that we're getting closer to the end and very soon, we'll be able to see where we're supposed to go, next.
Change can be wonderfully exciting and terribly scary. I just hope that whatever happens, happens well and that we never lose everything and have to live in a tiny trailer, indefinitely.
But if by some chance that does happen, I hope that I can find within me, the same kind of good attitude and grace like the woman I met the other day.