I realize that Panama is considered a great post. We would have happily served in Panama the first time around. We bid it high last time. I've been there - it's nice. Especially compared to where we are placed now. It has beautiful beaches, great restaurants and lots of old people from the US. Kind of like Florida.
But it's not Europe. And frankly, I had my heart set there. So I'm not disappointed so much that they assigned us to Panama, but that they didn't assign us to Europe.
I don't think that my expectations were unrealistic. One great colleague of Joey's whom we met here in Abuja is in a fabulous European capital now. Another colleague will leave Abuja and head to the same fabulous European capital in a few months. Another colleague of his from Abuja is headed shortly to my favorite city in the world. Every person we know who has served in Abuja received one of their top five bids. Our top seven bids were in Europe, five of them with perfect timing. Yet we were assigned number nine, which was imperfect timing. Frankly, I find it insulting.
I'm sure this seems petty. I know. It is. But serving here has been freaking hard. And we were told that serving here would virtually guarantee our pick of anywhere in the world for our second post. Which seems to me like a pretty blatant lie. Joey's CDO (career development officer) told him that all posts above us went to people with higher differentials. I don't see how the smaller winter bidding cycle had eight other people with higher differentials (considering ELOs (entry-level officers) aren't allowed to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan), while Joey's colleague who heads to the fabulous European capital in a few months bid in the huge summer cycle. Where were all the people with higher differentials then?
Oh, and the same day we got our bids was the same day that they finally approved an additional 10% differential for Abuja. Seven months later. It really just makes me want to scream.
So while there are some amazing benefits to Joey's career, this is also something that we (okay, me. Joey, ever the laid-back, nonchalant man that he is, could really give a shit. He's amazing at accepting the hand he's dealt and making the best of it. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love him so much: his "that's the way the cookie crumbles" attitude really complements my "oh really? Well GFY!"-ness. (I know, I know, I'm so eloquent)) have to very carefully weigh: are the benefits worth feeling like someone's pawn for "the needs of the service?" We certainly haven't been singled out - this shit happens all the time - but I just don't know if I can handle being tossed around to places where I'm meh at best and horrified and bawling under the covers at worst. Also, as calm and collected as Joey is, I'm not sure how many more we-got-our-post-Melissa-is-having-a-meltdown he can handle.
Anyway, that's where we are now. We'll have to truly consider all of the costs and benefits (which will certainly involve more than one Excel spreadsheet). Right now the plan is there is no plan.