I thought I would have about a month to mull it over. Tomorrow, Friday afternoon, Seattle time, I will have to make a decision if I want to accept a position with Seattle District Corps of Engineers. After a week of going back and forth asking questions and discussing salaries, I may have been offered a deal that is hard to refuse. It may have been negotiating skills I learned as a PM in previous positions, but I started out high and recommended "retained pay". They held steadfast, as I did also. I offered a few references for them to look over to re-assess their salary offer. After a few more phone discussions, they finally put on the table a final offer.
It is definitely a good offer, position-wise and salary-wise. Work location will be in Federal Way, just south of Seattle, at the Northwest Area Office of the Seattle District Corps of Engineer. The Northwest Area Office manages construction projects in Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Montana -- mainly military construction at Spokane's Fairchild AFB, Mountain Home AFB right outside of Boise, and Malmstrom AFB near Great Falls. There will be some civil works projects also. There will be travel involved in these three areas -- about 15-20% of my time. Position will involve, among other things, coordination of contractor submittals for review and provision of contract administration support. It is a combined project engineer/office engineer position.
It is hard to discount my current situation in Abu Dhabi. It is definitely a good position with a lot of responsibilities, but definitely a lot less stress than my previous position. The compensation, benefits, and living conditions are all great. There are a few things this coming year that I was looking forward to: one week training in San Diego in late June and one week training in DC in mid-July. I haven't had a chance to explore the Middle East as I was planning to do. I was going to do some of that right about now until the end of the year, but this back issue is preventing me from doing it. This week would have been a good time to visit Cairo because of an almost week-long local holiday, but I could not do it because I am headed out of Abu Dhabi next Tuesday first for a weeklong stop in Germany, then to Seattle on 1 December to have my back looked at.
I am leaning towards acceptance of this offer. First of all, it gets me back to Seattle -- to be back with family and friends. Second, it is a huge jump in salary from what I was making when I left Seattle back in early 2005. If I do accept, I am not sure if this is my final move back to Seattle. I still want to explore and work at other locations outside of the US. Getting back to Germany or other areas in Europe are still future considerations. Maybe it is time, after almost 6 years away, to "roost" even if just to get reacquainted again with family, friends, and Seattle for awhile until the next journey comes along.
My back situation, I believe, is one main reason I am leaning towards a move back to Seattle. I probably would not have applied for a position back home if I was not having this issue. It is something I need a specialist to look at. First thing first, as I stated previously, I am headed to Germany this coming Tuesday for a short break to explore more of Europe. Then I am headed to Seattle on 1 December for medical leave to see doctors about my back. I will need to get back to Abu Dhabi at some time. My return ticket currently is for 3 January. If need be, I can stick around Seattle for any regimen that a back specialist recommends concerning my back.
If I do move back to Seattle to accept the position, I would guess a start date of late Feb/early March is a workable plan. Back to Seattle for good? Perhaps...
Update: I showed up at work today, Friday, which is my day off, to go over this big decision. As I always do, I make a list of positives and negatives for each of the option. Then I start comparing the two alternatives. There were not many negatives for each option. This time, the quality of life stood out. Health concerns relating to my back was a major item in my decision. Obviously, taking care of this in Seattle would be much easier: doctors who I can talk to directly; my medical insurance is based in Seattle; and the quality of service would be much better. Also, as I state above, getting reacquainted with the younger ones in the family played a major part in my decision. Many of the younger ones in the family see me almost as a distant relative who visits maybe three or four times a year. Even if only for a short time while I am there, I want to reconnect with them and make a bigger impression on their lives. And lastly, my social life in Abu Dhabi is almost non-existent. It is pretty much work and back to my apartment. On some Fridays, I get to visit places nearby. We are such a small office -- we have had either two or three in the office. I am sure that if I were more pro-active that I can develop more of an active social life. But it is different here because of the many different expat communities. In Germany, I had people from my office and other departments that I went to lunch with regularly, and some who I went out with for dinner and bars on some occasions; I also had a few friends that I travel with, whether for a weekend trip or a longer trip around Europe. In Bosnia, I had a similar circle of friends from work including local nationals and EU military members who I hung out with during and after work, inside and outside the base. Even in Iraq, because we had much more people in our Resident Office, we went to the dining halls together, we scheduled movie nights in our rec area, planned for bbq's, etc.
Anyway, instead of waiting until Friday afternoon Seattle time to inform them of my decision, I sent out an e-mail at noon (midnight Seattle time) to accept the offer. I gave them a start date of 27 Feb 2011, which in our phone conversation from last night, they were amenable to that schedule.