Well, our bid lists are off in the hands of those tasked with determining our fate… the next thee years of it anyway.
Much to our surprise, the research leading up to our bidding decisions wasn’t quite as involved as it has been in times past. Maybe because we actually had plenty of fine options. Maybe because we only really care about staying together, and it looks like that should be possible. Maybe because we’ve got a lot of experience at this bidding thing by now.
This time was a little different than the two previous times we’ve bid on what could have been my second tour. A few months back we were working from Andy’s A100 list and had to rank all jobs high, medium, or low. Last summer we worked from the second tour list and had to bid on 30 positions ranked in order of preference, picked from hundreds of choices. Our strategy was to get me a post with the most potential of having a job for Andy at some unknown point in the future.
This time we’re bidding off of a special list for a small group of people who missed the regular bid cycles for one reason or another. Because of this our list of choices was smaller so we only had to bid on 15. But the most important difference between this and previous experiences is that this time we’re actually bidding together, at the same time, off the same list. Not theoretically, but for real.
We expected really only one or two viable possibilities that allowed us to check all the necessary boxes (we both need a consular tour, Andy needs a language) and also be posted together. If there’s a mantra for tandem couples in the Foreign Service I think it would be, “sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.” Usually (but not always) couples are able to stick together as long as they’re willing to make enough sacrifices about any other personal or professional goals. What I’m saying is: because we wanted to stick together, we didn’t really expect to have much of a choice about anything else. We thought we’d be going to whatever (likely undesirable) post happened to have two spots left over for us. However, we were pleasantly surprised that our bid list had 11 cities that would work for us, and that every single one of these places is more appealing to us than where we’d braced ourselves to go.
Curious? Well, I can’t tell you where exactly we bid, but I will say that our 15 bids included:
- 11 different cities
- 5 bids on the same city
- 9 bids on the same country
- 3 different continents
- 15 bids that involve language training
- 3 different languages
- 6 places you would gladly go on vacation
- 3 places you would go on vacation if you’re a bit adventurous
- 2 places you probably wouldn’t go on vacation but that would be perfectly comfortable places for us to live
- 6 cities with subway systems
- only 1 bid that wouldn’t allow us to stay together as a family
- 14 bids we’d be perfectly happy to get
We’re hopeful, but if we’ve learned anything from both our own and other people’s bidding experiences it’s that you just never know what’s going to happen until it happens. We’re worldwide available, after all. There are no guarantees that we’ll be able to stay together as a family. There are no guarantees that we’ll get one of the jobs we bid on — or even one that was on our list.
Anything can happen.
Check back in a week or so to find out what does.