I really like my job. And I'm not the kind of person who leaves a job lightly. But I've begun to think it's time I moved on.

Last year my company was purchased by a larger competitor. It seems that every time one company swallows another the first thing they do is get rid of a whole lot of people. This too was the case with my company. But my department escaped. They kept us, took a look at us in action and decided that maybe that having an in-house service department was a good idea. So it looked like I would get to keep a job I very much and joy and maybe even get ahead as it was expanded. But as Jeremy Clarkson might say, "There are a few problems." Namely they don't seem to give a damn about their employees.

The first sign came at Christmas when I received my bonus. One water bottle, festooned with the company logo, one cheap pen, six individually wrapped life savers (which I ate) and two pieces of red licorice (which I did not eat). All that with a tiny mimeographed note thanking me "for all your hard work".

I feel sooooooooooo appreciated. Next year send me nothing, it would more honest and less insulting. Then they declared that we absolutely, positively must take a half hour lunch every day. As my personal growth will attest, I am not one for missing meals. But service is by its nature unpredictable. You get to the site expecting a small problem and discover you have just entered the fifth circle of technological Hell. And I drive a lot, often over 1,000 miles in a week. It's very easy to pull into the drive through, get a meal and keep going. And I must also keep a schedule, and that sometimes doesn't work out so well. Take today. For my first call, I found that the affiliate who did the installation did a lousy job of it, not meeting our standards. Most affiliates do a very good job, and this affiliate has some good technicians. but when the account number contains a certain prefix, I've learned to expect certain issues. Like using the wrong transformer. Let's just say I had a lot of stuff to fix and what was expected to be an hour long call turned into three. My following call was over two hours away out in BFE. I could not both take lunch and arrive within my appointed window. Then that job went bad, and so I ended up taking my "lunch" at 8:30 PM about ten minutes from my house. Which simply slowed me down, and made my day more expensive as warm places to sit generally want you to buy something Why are they doing this? It's easy to run through a drive-thru while completing a two-hour drive. If I have time, I will happily take a lunch break, but don't make it mandatory, or if you do, please include an asterisk.

But the final straw came when I went to look at my health insurance. It's both lousy and expensive. The only plan the company fully funds is a Health Savings Account, and there isn't much of a match. And please don't insult me by blaming it on Obamacare. I pay very close attention to such things. The truth is many companies want to get out of providing health care for their employees and have the perfect scapegoat in the Affordable Care Act. My company it seems is one of them. If i choose the plan I can afford, even a short hospital stay would likely leave me bankrupt. I cannot afford the health care coverage choices they offer me. So I need to find a place where the coverage is affordable and decent. And they treat me like they actually want me to work there. The company I hired into did that. The new mega company does not.

Fallujah has fallen. The Sons of Iraq are tired of getting their heads cut off and have mostly evaporated. I know guys who bled to give Anbar back to the people who are now slowly shaking their heads when asked why they let the local Al Qaeda affiliates back in. The sectarian idiocy in Iraq has gone beyond the pale, with members of the elected government having each other assassinated on religious and ideological grounds, and openly aligning with various groups whose goals are, in no particular order: the decapitation of all adversaries, the destruction of the elected government, and the purging of all incompatible ideology from the face of the Earth (or at least the little parts of it within range of a 7.62x39).

Karzai has finally flipped his entire wig and seems to be determined to go out with a bang and a flash, and is not not only defying the murderous and hideous occupying armies, but also the rest of the government of his own country, to include the elected parliament and the Loya Jirga. Things have gone as far South there as they can get short of Iran farting off a volley of chemical warheads into Kabul just for laughs.

A good friend of mine reports that there is graffiti on the walls of Northern Syria, in the parts that journalists don't dare go to (Aleppo is the new Saigon as I've heard it told), that reads "GREETINGS TO BROTHERS IN ISLAM FROM MULLAH OMAR AND THE TALIBAN". Kandahar to Al-Maabadah is about 35 hours by road, along Ring Road and Route 44.

In other recent news, the details leaked from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' upcoming tell-all book have been ruffling some feathers on the Hill lately, because he's had the gall to break ranks and breach the thin gold line to relay a little bit of the ugly truth behind the leadership's decisions regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More or less exactly what anyone with two functioning neurons should expect, but to have it said openly by such a high ranking official is a little like a retired police chief not only admitting that there are dirty cops, but naming names, too.

I say "a little like" because the comparison is like trying to explain an extinction level meteor impact in terms of firecrackers.

On the homefront, things have been awfully quiet. It's been a rough winter break. Fabulous amounts of family drama to deal with, and nothing to really distract me from it, what with no schoolwork to throw myself into. A little bit of review/preview for the upcoming classes for which doing such a thing makes sense, but in general, a lot of laying around and cursing the Polar Vortex as if I were somehow incapable of putting a coat and hat on.

Yes, all of this is fascinating, I'm sure. Believe me, it's been absolutely riveting from this end as well. Apparently, nobody actually believed me when I told them I was getting out of the business and moving on to a quiet domestic life. In this morning's fresh retrospect, apparently I didn't either.

I got a phone call yesterday morning that I should never have answered, and I knew it even as I pawed at the phone. When I realized who it was, and the first thing he wanted to know was "So, Haq, what have you been up to lately?" I really should have faked a coughing fit or a house fire. Anything to avoid what I knew had to come next, because I knew there was no way to turn it down.

Long story short, I took the job offer.

Fuck it. Let's go.

Maybe I can catch some of the six weeks of Spring when the weather is perfect, just before it all turns to dust.

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