Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Devious Job Pixies!

Last March I was hired by a contract company in Saudi Arabia for a teaching position there. I informed them of problems that would have to be discussed concerning when I would be able to start. We discussed them and agreed on a start date.

As I am a compulsive job hunter, I kept looking during the time my recruiter and I were discussing a possible start date. I talked with a contractor who wanted to keep me on file for a job they were granted a subcontracted for in Afghanistan. The following day I was called and informed that job had been cut. I was hired by another contracting company in Afghanistan for an English teaching position. Within a week, I received a call stating that the position had been "descoped".  And prior to my job offer in March, I was offered a position at an international elementary school in Kabul. I accepted the position and they said they were going to send me the paperwork. I never heard from them again. I tried emailing them with no response

Fast forward to December. The contract company had told me that the physical I would have to undergo in order to get the necessary visa should be done in December. The time came, they sent me the paperwork, I filled it out, and proceeded to get my physical. There were a couple of health issues that came up that needed to be addressed. This was done with no problems.

The contract company emailed their client, got the go ahead, and had me send everything to the visa office to be processed, and I was granted a brand new Saudi business visa! This had been scanned and emailed to my contractor and to myself so that I new that it, meaning also my passport, were finally on their way back to me! I was told that they would forward this information to their client and that I should receive an email telling me when I would be flying out. The email came, and I excitedly opened it! Unfortunately, it was an email to inform me that the job was no longer available!

Frustrated, I emailed out a number of other resumes. I received an interview with a school in China. I interviewed with them, and they said they wished to hire me. I received an email with three attachment explaining various benefits and rules, etc. The email reference an offer letter that I needed to sign and send back. I emailed the recruiter to ask about this. He looked and said that he had forgotten to attach it, and that he would send it first thing in the morning. Four or five days later, I had not heard from him. Then he calls and asks if I had received the email with the letter. I inform him that I did not, and he said that he would send it right away. It is the following day, and I have received nothing.

Fortunately, I had an interview yesterday with a government contractor with a contract in Saudi Arabia teaching Saudi Air Force mechanics. They were looking for someone who could leave by the end of the month. Today, I received the offer letter and have sent it back. I am happy to now have a job and will be off once again making my way in the world.

I know that I have been a victim of those notoriously devious job pixies. They have been researching how I react to their whimsical giving and taking of jobs, and now that I have received what I hope to be my last one this year, I assume they are bored with me and have moved on. If you happen to have an experience with these pixies, do not be discouraged; they do leave eventually!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mind Full of Travels!

This past couple of weeks has been extremely eventful. I haven't had time to sit and write about what has been happening. Now that I am at the airport awaiting the first leg of my next journey, I have a little bit of time to catch up and relax and report.

From Reno I returned to Michigan for a couple of days. During this time I stayed at a decent hotel, visited my brother, and attempted to relax (which I tend to have a very difficult time with). From there I flew to Baltimore for a night. I stayed at the Westin and loved it! It is a luxurious hotel which I would definitely stay at, but the price is a bit more than I would typically like to spend.

After my short night in Baltimore, I boarded the plane to London. I was actually heading to Endinburgh, but it was on a separate ticket. I was required to transfer terminals and recheck in. The gates at Terminal 1 were great! They are self gates at which you place your boarding pass on the scanner and look into the camera. If all checks out, the gate opens and you go through to security. Shoes, belts, and such are not required to be taken off at first, unless they feel there is need. They are particularly strict about the liquids though. Apparently they do not have as sensitive detectors as those in Terminal 3 as I went through the former with no problem, but managed to set off the others while all on me was the same.

This trip led me up to Edinburgh as stated previously, and then off to London for a night. Then I made my way off to Denver where I was to make contact with the group I would accompany on a glorious trip to Zimbabwe and South Africa! So much fun, so little time!

Connections and Coincidences

Spending a week in Las Vegas may sound like a great thing, and for the most part probably is, but I was not really feeling all that upbeat about it. I had just started an antibiotic regime that was causing me to feel a lot less than stellar, and as usual, I was there alone and was not too fond of the situation. All that being said, it was quite relaxing, and I did have a bit of fun as well. 

On my way to Las Vegas via Chicago and Seattle, I sat next to someone I had met previously at a Frequent Travelers University (FTU) in Tampa. If this rather interesting coincidence weren't enough for my connection based brain, upon my arrival, I sent an email to another person I met at FTU letting him know of the meeting
    "I just wanted to tell you that I am not coming to Houston! OK... now back to your regularly          
     scheduled program. :)  Actually, I am on my way to Las Vegas. I was thinking that it had been a long 
     time since we had spoken, so I felt l should send an email. Then during my trip, and interesting thing 
     happened: I ended up sitting next to someone from FTU:  ... Still getting your Southwest fix?"

A fairly innocuous email to which I received the following part of a reply: 

     "Well it really is a small world. I am replying to you on my southwest flight's WiFi en route to LAS 

So, I told him I wasn't going to Houston, where he lives, but instead was on my way to Las Vegas. I then proceeded to ask him about his propensity to fly Southwest. He read it on his way from Houston (obviously) to Las Vegas while flying Southwest! To the normal person, this really means nothing. However, to a person like me who loves to see all the connections that happen in life as connections, it was quite interesting. 

Of course we decided to meet up upon his arrival. We enjoyed a nice lunch at Beijing Noodle Restaurant inside Ceaser's Palace and then walked the strip to see what we could see. He also showed me the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens inside of Bellegio! Much fun to be had all around!

Horse display inside the Bellegio Conservatory. 

The Eiffel Tower. I really need to take a true "European" trip. 

Fountain show. Really needs to be on video!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Reno Happenings

My time in Reno has been fairly unremarkable. I am staying at a location right downtown, so most things are within walking distance, the weather has been wonderful, there are many things to do (even during what appears to be the downtime in which I came), and should you choose to gamble or go out for cheap meals, that is an option as well. Other than that, I am sure most people would be bored here.

Arriving late at night, I decided to stay at the La Quinta Inn close to the airport that first night. They offer a complimentary airport shuttle, breakfast that starts later than most, and as an Elite member, I get a bottle of water and a cookie upon check in :) Of course paying for it with points didn't hurt any either! I had a great night sleep, a bite to eat in the morning, and reserved a shuttle back to the airport for around noon (check out time).

I was a half an hour early for my car reservation but decided it was close enough. Not really knowing where I was going or how to get around, I felt that a car would be a good idea. Then I discovered that I was staying right downtown and just about everything was either within walking distance or reachable by the RTC Sierra Spirit! And if it isn't on this bus route (.25/ride), one could utilize the regular bus service RTC Ride. I could have saved a bit of money, but at least I am earning bonus miles for my trouble.

I have spent a lot of time in my room while here, and I am good with that. It has given me the chance to relax and recuperate and get work done. I did, however take walks around town nearly every day. I happened past the Bowling Center, the Automobile Museum, went down the River Walk, and even walked past City Hall which is conveniently located approximately 500 yards from two different wedding chapels!

I did also utilize the rental car. I drove to Carson City via Virginia City and Gold Hill, I went out to Sacramento and traversed Lake Tahoe on the way back. This involved traveling along the Mt. Rose Highway (is that its actual name?), which was a bit on the nerve-wracking side for me!

Last night I went to the comedy club "Catch a Rising Star" and had a few laughs, some at my own expense. Tonight it will be the planetarium where I will include two of the shows: "Extreme Planets & Starlight Express" (this may actually be two separate shows, but they are listed together) and "Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon." I am really looking forward to these. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Travel Begins (MBS - DTW- SLC - RNO)

I arrived at the airport with plenty of time. When I got to security, I had all the stuff out of my pockets and my shoes loosened as MBS doesn't have TSA Pre-Check. As it turned out, they have implemented an expedited screening program.While one is still required to remove laptops and liquids from checked baggage, shoes and light jackets can be worn through the machine. As I travel wearing a leather jacket with all of my metal items in it, I took that off, but I left my boots on (thank you DoD for issuing a composite boot that won't set off the alarm).

True to form, during all of this I was a bit on the flustered side. I managed to drop my watch and not notice it for about 10 minutes after getting to my seat. Thankfully the airport is small and a security guard noticed me looking and asked if I had lost my watch. They captured the dropping event on video, so they knew it was mine, though they still grilled me about its description nonetheless.

The flight to DTW was uneventful. I ended up in the Southern side of the terminal (I think), and entered the Sky Lounge right as you exit the train that runs from one end of the terminal to the other. I had never been to this particular one. It was small by comparison, but still offered the same relaxing environment I have come to expect from Sky Lounges.

The DTW - SLC leg, while uneventful, left a bit to be desired. The flight attendant didn't seem to have her mind on the job, and I received a very lightly packed bag of peanuts! I managed to get a little sleep, so it ended well.

SLC - RNO was great. I was upgraded to first class, and while I had to sit near the window, I sat next to an elderly gentleman who owns car dealerships in Florida and Alabama and is on the Citrus Bowl committee. We chatted for most of the flight, and he offered me a ride to my hotel which I accepted. If this was to be any indication to my impending trip, it would be a good one!

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Flight Home! (TPA - FNT)

While I have been told repeatedly that Delta is not the way to go, I have stayed loyal to them for many years. I do not see that changing anytime soon unless something drastic happens. So, once again, I used them to get me back to my place of origin, or at least as close as I can get by air.

It started out as many other days. I awoke in a drab hotel room with very limited lighting, turned on the shower that would take 10 minutes to heat up to lukewarm (good thing there was little pressure as well), worked away at the spinach alfrado pizza from the previous evening, and tried to mentally prepare myself for the journey that lay ahead.

The hotel shuttle was scheduled to leave at 5:15am (the free breakfast starting at 5:30am of course), and my flight was scheduled for a 6:00am departure. The airport was almost 10 minutes away, so I was a little more worried than I normally am when I entered the lobby 5:05am. Fortunately, the driver was sitting on the lobby couch and pounced on the opportunity to ask if I was going to want a cup of coffee. I grabbed a coffee from the not yet open breakfast set-up, followed the driver to the van, and prayed that traffic would be light and the lights would be green.

We arrived at the airport safe and sound. I was going to check my backpack so I wouldn't have to deal with the inconvenience of carrying both it and my computer bag on board, but with running late, I barely felt like I had time to print the boarding passes from the machine (I had left my smartphone on the seat of my car at the airport in Flint! Apparently while the phone may be smart, I am not!). I rushed to the shuttle that takes one from that portion of the airport to security. By this time I was counting the seconds: they were already boarding my flight! Fortunately Tampa has TSA Pre-Check, so I was able to breeze through security at a fairly rapid rate. I made it to the gate where there was a long line. This was not general boarding yet, but there were already a large amount of people boarding. I got in line knowing what the end result would be: I would be unable to find a place for my backpack and would have to have them valet check it for me. I was almost right. Happily, while I didn't get upgraded, my backpack did!

The flight itself was uneventful. We arrived at the Atlanta airport where I would have a short hour and a half or so layover. We landed at gate B 33 and my next flight was at B 36! It was less than a five minute walk to the Delta Lounge where I decided to sip on an orange juice and surf the net. The next flight left on time. I missed getting upgraded on that flight by one; however, the middle seat was empty, so I wasn't complaining! I did manage to spill the apple juice I got on the plane though :(  Arrival in Flint was relatively painless. I had parked in the economy parking lot at around $6/day, and the shuttle took me right to my car. My phone was still there with the 5 missed calls I received, and I was on my way home to once again pretend to relax after the successful end to yet another journey!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Too Much Time?

Why is it that I always allot myself such an overabundance of time? While I hate being late, I know that others generally are, so I end up waiting not only the amount of time I am early but the amount of time they are late as well. It really adds up!

At the moment I am sitting at the airport waiting to board a plane for San Antonio. I arrived here just after 1 pm for a 4:00 pm flight. I had set up a fingerprinting appointment prior to the time I wanted to arrive at the airport. I was about half and hour early for the appointment, and didn't take very long to complete. I also easily found the airport from there. So, now I am spending an abundance of time at the airport wondering why I generally have such large amounts of time for waiting.

Of course I really don't mind. I have my laptop, my kindle, and I like to people watch; there are tons of activities I could easily participate in. I have always preferred to be early no matter how ok being late seemed to be. I guess it has just been instilled in me to such a degree that there is no changing it. And as long as I use that wait time to do something I enjoy, there is no need to attempt to change it anyway.