In true Foreign Service fashion, fate hasn’t quite finished with us this bidding season. We had pretty much figured we’d be heading to Washington and had verbally agreed on a position there. But since this particular job is at a different grade than I actually am, I am considered a “stretch bidder.” This means they weren’t able to officially offer me a written contract or “handshake” until stretch season in February. So we’re all pretty much just hanging around wading through the bureaucracy.
Since all of bidding is akin to moving a bunch of chess pieces around, it should come as no surprise that one of the top two posts we were bidding on in Europe contacted me a couple days ago, almost a full month after bidding has ended, to let me know that their #1 candidate had fallen through and asked if I wanted the job.
So this is where things got awkward. I had already verbally agreed to the job in DC, but my current supervisor, and the half dozen officers and fellow OMSs whose advice I asked, all told me that without a written handshake, I am under no obligation to follow through with the position.
Also, people curtail all the time, which means they not only accept a handshake, but they actually get all the way to post before they change their mind. So turning down a verbal is not necessarily a huge deal. Better for them to know ahead of time when they can still plan.
But I can’t help feeling extremely guilty, like I’m breaking up with a really nice guy to go out with someone else. Funny how much emotion we can attritube to this process. Plus I feel like this re-introduces an element of uncertainty. Who knows what else could happen between now and February if we start changing things around.
But hey, I try to remind myself that the whole reason we joined the FOREIGN Services is to go to foreign places, which DC is not. It’s a beautiful and exciting city; it’s in a section that I enjoy working; it will save us at least 50K in rent; I will get to use a bit of French; and our son is pretty much guaranteed to get better support at one of the few international schools that had actually accepted him. Plus they have awesome beer and chocolate. 😉
So as of today, our next post is…