This is the first time James will actually bid, like, for real. Because before this, when he was first hired, it was all just about which Field Office he was going to go for (there were just a few choices...we got Houston), and then it was us bidding off just the NOW list, which was very short (to get Chengdu), which means that this is the first time we've faced The Bidlist in all its unadulterated glory.
A couple of months ago, when the AIP (Afghanistan/Iraq/Pakistan) bidlist presented itself (because it comes out in advance of the normal overseas/domestic bidlist), James actually was just a millimeter away from bidding on it. He was gonna be all:
(But, of course, James is MUCH awesomer than that guy. Just sayin'.)
But after literally weeks (WEEKS, I tell you!) of stressing Every. Single. Day. (and emailing everyone we could think of - Thank you, Everyone!) over which AIP position to bid on (they all had their respective pluses and minuses for James/our family), James was sitting at work and found that he just wasn't ready to push the bid button on AIP. Not when he would miss a whole high school year of our youngest and last child. Not when I couldn't go with him this time, but *could* go with him a few years from now, when our nest is empty. So James decided to wait on the whole AIP thing and say: Not right now, maybe later.
So we went on R&R.
And got back to Chengdu.
And then The Bidlist came out. With domestic posts and overseas posts and LORD HAVE MERCY, HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCED FS PEOPLE *DO THIS* OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN PERPETUITY?!?!
Bidding?! Every one, two, or three years until you retire?!?! Talk about
Anyway, James printed The Bidlist out and we stared at the pages and pages AND PAGES. And then we decided that we had to something more than stare at it - we had to interact with it somehow.
So James grabbed a black pen and he went to town.
SLASHED were all the overseas jobs that were exactly the same position as what he's doing now. Because it's the sort of job that's awesome to do once, but it's not really supposed to be done more than once, or at least not more than once in rapid succession. Or whatever. See: Job variety, the goodness thereof. That reduced the overseas bidlist by easily half.
SLASHED were all the overseas jobs at posts that don't have high schools. Because, you know, we love our kid and all, and our kid loves being in school. That reduced the bidlist down a lot more. Which SUCKED. Because we were all: Look at this awesome post! We SO have to go there! OH CRAP, IT HAS NO HIGH SCHOOL! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT!
SLASHED were all the overseas jobs at posts that require anti-malarials. Now, if you are a family that can take them with no problem, like lots of folks I know, I'm seriously jealous of you, because your bid list will be much wider and deeper than ours. But we know for a fact (from past experience) that a certain member of our family cannot tolerate anti-malarials, and so those posts are off our list. Which seriously sucks, actually, but it cannot be helped. This reduced our bid list by a huge amount, sadly.
SLASHED are the overseas posts that will literally leave Zachary, our future high schooler, departing one post and going to another one in the summer before his 12th grade year. Because what could suck bigger than starting a new school in 12th grade?! Some private schools don't even accept kids who are coming in in 12th grade, and some public schools can't even figure out how to get incoming 12th graders graduated, especially with weirdo transcripts from a thousand overseas schools, or at least that's what I've heard. Yes, bidding will be easier when we don't have to worry with schools and timing a high school graduation. MERCY.
SLASHED (preemptively) are the posts that will quite obviously go to AIP bidders, who have preference. Hello, London-y, Frankfurt-y, Paris-y posts... I'm looking at you. Because there's no reason whatsoever to be researching what the high schools are like in Brussels because, HELLO, ain't gonna happen. Which pared The Bidlist down even further, by quite a lot. Depressingly so, because it had already been reduced by a huge amount (see above).
(Except we don't really drink.)
With our shredded overseas bid list in hand, it was time to hit Real Post Reports and take a look at the posts that were left.
I'm not gonna name any names, but if the Post Report for a certain city reads something like this:
Carjackings at gunpoint are extremely common. If you resist, you will be shot. In fact, several Americans with the [Embassy/Consulate] were killed here in [the last few years]. Some carjacked Americans are held for ransom. People often purchase/drive armored vehicles.
Then we're probably not going to bid it. JUST SAYING. BUT THANK YOU ANYWAY.
Also, if the Post Report for another certain city says something like:
Dengue Fever is extremely common, as are many other diseases that cannot be vaccinated/guarded against, such as antibiotic-resistant Tuberculosis. Also, do not eat any of the local food whatsoever, for you WILL contract Hepatitis. Furthermore, the schools are okay, but they are roughly an hour and a half away from the housing, and the one road that connects them with the housing floods frequently and easily, making the road impassable and stranding the U.S. Government children on the other side of the flooding.
Then NO. I mean, sorry, but NO.
And on and on, lather, rinse, repeat.
James was wicked busy with his pet black slashy pen, y'all, so we'll see what happens. The domestic bidlist got slash-yed up pretty nicely, also. After I surveyed the slashy pen damage, James and I then had the following very short conversation:
Me: Huh. I wonder where we will end up?
James (pensively): Wherever The Drunken Monkey chooses.
[I'm assuming that everyone has heard the bidding lore of The Drunken Monkey, but just in case you haven't, it basically is a story within which a big, huge list of posts (or, alternatively, a map of the world) is stuck on a wall in front of a drunk monkey, and the drunk monkey throws darts at the list and that is how posts are chosen. All that to say: BE KIND TO US, DRUNKEN MONKEY.]