I don’t know why, but I am a bit of a fanatic at looking at the ‘memories’ section of my Facebook page. This is the area where when you click it, it tells you what you posted on this day over the last few years. Sometimes they are posts that are as random as anything – like lyrics from songs that make me feel feelings (usually while drunk) – or about some hot topic commented on with a cynical attitude (usually while drunk) – or help to get through my day with a little inspiration language (usually while drunk). What I do find is that there is moments of irony in the way the world lines up year in and year out – where some activities just match up on the same day. But to be honest, there are times when you look at these specific memories and become reminded how far things have come in that time.
Today, as it happens, marks exactly 2 years since I spent my last day employed at BP Exploration – Alaska. Put simply, with that 2 years experience in hindsight, that was a bad decision.
So … I don’t really talk about work much in this blog because, well … it’s boring. It’s actually depressing, frustrating, and unprofessional too, but for serious, I write this for the entertainment value people … and do you really want to hear about the proper calibration periodicity of a field test instrument? But for those who don’t know, I am the North American Quality Manager at Bodycote Thermal Processing, a metal heat treater with 25 plants in my division covering four time zones across the whole US (and one place in Mexico). Two years ago, I had a different role as a Supplier Quality Specialist with BP. Thing was, working for BP was a pretty big shift for me – out of the Aerospace field and into Oil & Gas. It was a shift that I probably didn’t handle as well as I should have in hindsight. Yet as I was coming up to the 2 year mark there, there was talk about layoffs and cutting our group – and the job I had just kinda fell into my lap. So, what seemed like an obvious decision to make was made.
BP hasn’t done well since that time, and not because of the gulf spill – that impacted them well before my arrival (and probably did more for getting me there than anything). The hard math of oil & gas is that if oil gets too cheap (on a price per barrel basis), you stop working to get the out of the ground, and without that oil coming up you can’t pay everyone – so you cut people. By now, with hindsight as my guide, I would have been let go by now. So, that would suggest my decision was the right one.
Truth is, leaving Alaska was way harder than I thought it would be. Still to this day, I consider myself to be an Alaskan – and I have been a Massachusettesianonnoinan (or whatever they are) for longer. I read the Alaska Dispatch weekly, which is far more often than the Boston Globe. I constantly do the time zone game, where I look at the clock and put what is going into the Alaskan time zone. And I when people ask me my hobbies, I still say curling. If I would have gotten laid off in Alaska, I would probably have found a way to make it work. More than anything, I had work-life balance back then. At least, if it was off balance, I had more life than work. I can honestly say, I have one person in Boston I consider to be a friend that I know … and that is only because he is a bartender where they show Packer games, and he remembered my name from the last time I was there (11 months ago).
Truth is, from that point 2 years ago today, things have not gone my way. Much of it resulted from bad decisions I made. Some of it can be written off as mistakes. Yet some can just fall under bad luck. I’ve had issues that involved lawyers … twice. I’ve had to deal with insurance claims … twice. I’ve had to do major HVAC repairs … twice. My poor car has been run into the ground, my poor dog has had more than few bad days, and my poor bank account had run ins with paying for surgery unexpectedly (the paying for was unexpected, not the surgery) and unexpected IRS battles (at one point, I owed a 6 figure tax bill … like … nearly twice my annual pay). Nearly all of this stuff were things I probably never blogged about (or will agin), mostly because it’s none of y’alls problems, just mine. Maybe not something that has anything to do with my decision to leave Alaska – but it sure did feel like insult to injury.
The point of all this is — hindsight is a pain in the butt sometimes. You spend all your time trying to do the right thing and make the right decisions, but then something comes along and reminds you that 2 years later you should have done something else.
But then again … hindsight comes with irony too.
But that’s for a later post.