Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Three Phases of Contract Work...

Over the last 12+ years, I've noticed something that's pretty universal amongst contract workers: We all go through three, distinct phases during the course of our contract. The phases are almost exactly broken down into thirds. For a one year contract it's 4/4/4 months. For a six month contract it's 2/2/2 months. No value judgements on any of them - just observations...

The First Phase: EXCITEMENT

People work like the devil to get hired to work overseas. There's mountains of paperwork to fill out, some to read, and alot that you'll never see again. By the time you wade through it all you feel like you've really accomplished something. It's a good feeling.

Then there's the excitement of being in a new place. Discovery of things unknown, exploring of the unfamiliar, and adventure worthy of a B movie. It's a grand feeling, and by far my favorite phase.

Not everyone capitalizes on this newness. Some are content with making their way between their home, the DFAC, and work, and seldom stray. They're missing so much. I'd only been in Taji a month before the people who'd been there alot longer than me were asking where places were.

After a while, though, the excitement fades, and slips into the second phase...


Once you're aware of your surrounds and the general area, you enter a spell of comfortableness. It's a nice feeling - you've fallen into a routine, you know your coworkers (and how to exploit them), you know your job, and people start respecting your knowledge base. You're no longer a 'newbie' in their eyes.

Routine does have its downside - it tends to get a little boring and mundane. Nothing wrong with that, it's just not as challenging. The mind starts to take more naps during the day.

Of course, familiarity naturally leads to the last phase...


In this phase you tend to become a little more pissy, and people start getting on your nerves. It's natural. You've spent a long time wherever you're at, and start to feel like it's never going to end. The real world feels so far away.

On the ice, everyone hit this phase at the same time and it was easier to work with. Here in Iraq, we're all on different contract lengths, and enter this phase at different times. Work becomes more frustrating because you find YOU'RE the only one that seems pissy.

I admit, I'm there. Only 109 days to go. It'll pass, as all things do.

I really have nothing to complain about. Life in Taji is still the best around. I live in single housing, I'm fed three meals a day, I'm compensated well, and I've only got 109 days to go. :) Life is still very good.

Once again, I apologize for not updating as much as I should. In this contemptuous phase there really isn't anything interesting to write about.

I suppose I could tell you that American-occupied Taji is shrinking. We've given the most northern 20% if the base back to the Iraqis, with more to come. After the first of the year the State Department moves in, and Iraqis will be all over our side. It'll be an interesting time.

It's also cooled off here. Highs are ranging from 70-75* and lows are 40-45*. It's also become more humid, more cloudy, and the rains have started. And yes, we're ALL pissy about the mud.

Next month I'll be taking a small vacation. More like some R&R, really. Plans are to visit Cairo, and the pyramids, for a few days, then onto Dubai to see the wonders of the modern world. While I'm in the area, might as well. And once I set foot in Africa, that leaves me with only one more continent to go!

After that break, only two months remain.

I'll try to write more soon...if anything happens.

Take care. Enjoy life.

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