This blog was supposed to be about coping with lack of work, but it seems to have gone in a different direction.
For 5 months now I have been coping (not very well) with the idea that I don’t have a job at the moment. This is not the first time it has happened. I counted up I had been made redundant three times and each time got a better job after not too long.
This time I made a plan of what to do and only in the last month has it worn thin. Achievements so far: new School Director hired, pay and conditions survey for international school teachers, taught myself HTML and blogging, and managed to write quite a lot of family history on the blog.
But every time it feels like I will never work again and perhaps at 57 there is a possibility I will never work again at what I like doing now. Sloph consoles me with the statement that I am well qualified and experienced and so I should be able to get a well-paid job somewhere, at least with enough to live on in the UK. My friends in Lithuania tell me they know I don’t want to go back to the UK so I should just hang on. But the market seems to have changed with energy jobs a lot rarer now. And Bee needs to change schools and get somewhere she can stay for 3 or 4 years to qualify to go to university. Sloph needs a home for half the year as terms at Oxford are so short. So basing ourselves in Oxford seemed a good idea, except for the property prices which caused a huge shock when we went for Greek Easter.
Every time I apply for a job in the UK, my CV disappears down a black hole and never comes out again. Exactly the same thing happened in 1997, the last time I was stuck for work, after Jono walked out and I had to come home and look after the kids full time. I applied and applied for jobs at home and got nowhere. Several times a month I got enquiries for work abroad so in the end I went where I was welcome. Not that I ever regretted it!
Now after 5 months it seems the same may be happening. It seems I can’t escape South East Europe and will probably end up working on a project half time in Kosovo. It is enough to live on but where to live? And how to fill the rest of the time? And where should Bee go to school? Can we find a live in student to be there while I am away? The logistical problems seem insoluble. Shall I be semi-retired rather than semi-employed? Will I be able to use the time sensibly like this 5 months (more or less)? Or will I expand the job to fill the time and waste the experience?
I have just applied for some other jobs to see what happens. The job in Denmark is a good job, but Sloph says (and the job offerers admit) the pay is bad for foreigners adjusting to the cost of living in Denmark. They say that people get used to the Danish lifestyle after a couple of years. And what exactly does that mean with high salaries, 50% tax , and horrendous prices. But with a cup of coffee “merely” 7 Euros and the job and school at opposite ends of Copenhagen, it seems not ideal. Despite that there is a good subsidised international school for Bee, so for her (apart from pocket money) it would be a good solution.
The latest option to be considered is Sakhalin. To me, and the kids, one of the sign of a good job is that it is in a place no one has heard of. Why do I want to take a job in the middle of nowhere at the age of 57 when I should be slowing down and preparing for retirement? Because I don’t have any plans or money for retirement and need to work as long as I can! And because I like to travel and have never been there.
A recommendation from J got my CV sent to a firm in Aberdeen which recruits for the oil and gas industry. I wasn’t very hopeful as I have never worked in that industry and I always thought it was too specialised. But after spotting work in Kazakhstan and Sakhalin on their website I thought it was worth a try. Eventually they called me back and agreed to propose me to Shell in Sakhalin for a job which I though I could do, and nobody else seems interested in (?!). Is that a bad thing or not? We are at least talking the same sort of money. However working 5 weeks on and 2 weeks off, means Bee will have to go boarding school. Not a problem as such, only which country and what sort of a school? And where are we all going to live in the holidays? And what about Nibbles the cat? Somehow all these problems seem easy to solve with a 3 year contract and enough money. Can I really stand living in a small Russian town with lots of oil industry expats? I guess anyone who is happy to work there is going to be a bit unusual. Altogether this prospect seems much more exciting and what I want to do now. A new career in oil and gas in “interface management” seems just what I need, and likely to viable for a few more years yet.
Further research on the Sakhalin Energy website produced a second job. So let’s see where that all takes me.
Research on the website also showed this was a good potential place for an In Your Pocket Guide so I quickly contacted my friend Sco who can’t wait to get there too. That makes our potential list to work together on new IYPs a bit more exotic than just Kosovo, Belgrade and Ljubljana and is more in keeping with our last project for Visaginas in Your Pocket, or the tour and business guide to the (half closed now) Chernobyl style Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Lithuania. Check out the plant’s new stylish website. When I was writing this post, the real time output shows both units shut down not just one so unless there is summer maintenance a bit early, that part of the website must not be working so well.
Visaginas IYP starts:
If nothing else, Visaginas is extraordinary. Lithuania's newest town (born on August 7, 1975) was originally named Sniečkus after a former leader of the Lithuanian Communist party, and one look at the place confirms that it is indeed the product of pure, unadulterated socialism. Built for the sole purpose of housing the workers of the neighbouring nuclear power plant, the architects' dream was to concoct a model town constructed in harmony with the surrounding countryside. What you actually get is a collection of grey blocks built in a forest, which, depending on one's particular viewpoint, is either good or bad. What is clear is that Visaginas is a town like no other. Almost entirely populated by Russian speakers, and a marvellously bizarre adventure for all.
That’s Sco’s style and we had a lot of fun doing the guide, which was funded mainly by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry and the Danish Energy Authority as part of their aid for the power plant’s closure. Like all the IYP guides it’s part tourism part help for new people who have come to work in the area and provides invaluable information about how to get your home and work set up.
So obviously one is needed in the “capital” of Sakhalin. Maybe this is a third possibility for work.