My niece left a message last night, saying "Must be kind of weird for you guys, trying to live a sustainable life there in Wimberley, while having John consulting for an oil company because of the spill." No shit Sherlock. But then, that's nothing new for us. We have always been the odd ducks of the "awl bidness" world, right from day one. The only thing that saved us was the particular company that John went to work for.

You see, at Mobil Oil an engineer could choose between the "managerial" track, or the "technical" track. You'd never become a bazillionaire on the technical track, but you wouldn't be hurting, either. Most importantly, you could continue doing what you love your entire

career (instead of having to be a people pusher) and eventually become something of a guru in your particular area of expertise. But - you would never be one of the movers and shakers up in the ivory tower. John saw that as a good thing.

Another big difference was in the way John prioritized his life. Once we all started having kids, it became more and more obvious that there was something exceedingly strange about my hubby - something so strange in fact, that I couldn't even discuss it with the other wives. He actually liked spending time at home with us! Although the other husbands were leaving the house before dawn, and coming home after the kids were already in bed, they just couldn't seem to turn it off, even when they were at home. They were either on the phone, or closeted in their offices, and the only breaks they took were to head off to the golf course. John was very good at what he did. In fact, one boss told him "John, you're not just a low-maintenance employee, you're a NO-maintenance employee!" Still, if he had to choose between spending time at the office or at home? Home would always win, hands down.

It wasn't until the kids hit junior high that things started to go downhill. By that time, John was well on his way to becoming a "Rotating Equipment" guru -- the go-to guy for problematic turbines and compressors, as well as maintenance and reliability procedures in the gas plants. Only problem was, Mobil was shutting down all their domestic gas plants. John had no choice but to transfer into their overseas division. That meant that instead of going off on 3-4 day trips to west Texas and New Mexico, he was going off on 3 to 4 week trips to places that were kinda scary. Fortunately, despite the amount of time he was away, he seemed to have a gift for staying connected with the kids, for they both say they never felt neglected at all. John, however, was suffering big time. After a while I realized that, each time he called, the more cheerful and chatty I was about what was going on with the kids, the more silent and depressed he became.

When Exxon came along and bought out Mobil, they gave him a choice -- a job with them, or a separation package? It took him about 5 seconds to make up his mind. He walked. He said "I've already missed out on every single important event of our daughter's teens, and I'm just not going to do it anymore. A teen-aged boy needs his dad." So, he took a boring job with a small company, for a huge cut in pay, and was happy as a little clam. He sat right behind the band at all the games, snapping pictures of our grinning, tuba-dancing son. I don't know one other guy in The Bidness who could have, or would have, made that choice. I'm sure they all thought it was my doing - that I forced him into it. The wives probably felt sorry for me, thinking I would miss the prestige of his former life. Instead, I felt like we had finally taken the first step -- towards The Good Life.

P.S. And, to all you guys who can't imagine a life outside your careers, and who keep telling my hubby how much he would hate being retired? Well, you don't know jack about John!
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5