I tried, truly I did; tried to like Florida, to tough it out like I promised myself I would. But at the end of the day I’m just a western girl – there’s no fighting it. Nothing could describe the flood of relief that came over me when I finally said “enough” and decided to initiate the transfer to Valdez. Part of it felt like quitting, but another part of it felt like I was giving myself permission to stop wearing myself down for this job, and that was definitely good. In a way the little a/c nightmare was the last straw. I will trade the heat, humidity, swamps, sand and gators for mountains, snow, cool air and orcas. When I fly up to Valdez in two weeks, I expect it will be warm and dewy (but not hot) and the sky will stay light all night. It will be a good time to start because I can learn the operations of this new division without having to endure extreme cold right away. I will work for four weeks and then have four weeks off, a regular schedule with little guesswork as to when I might be off or when I will have to drop everything and get on a plane, and even the pay will be less sporadic, because they operate on an ATO system where the same amount is disbursed every pay period whether you’re on or off the boat. And best of all, no more Jacksonville. No offense to Jax natives, but it’s just not my bag.
I had a little guilt when I let my bosses know I was leaving. They are definitely struggling to keep people; I’d wager it has something to do with the 2/1 schedule, or the fact that they keep saying that new LNG-powered ships are going to replace the Jax-based boats and barges by 2017. But some of the best career advice I ever got was from a friend of mine in SF bay, who essentially said “you don’t owe them” – you must look out for your own best interests. You earned that license, your company didn’t give it to you, you need them more than they need you. I appreciate all the opportunities my employers have given me, but this advice has helped me to avoid feeling guilty when I find I need to jump at a chance to make my own life better. I don’t think that this change will mean the end of all my struggles, but I do think I will be a lot happier.