The views expressed in this blog are personal and not representative of the U.S. Government, etc etc etc.
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

You win some, you lose some

By many accounts, life with the State Department is pretty plush. Upon entering the Foreign Service, you are provided with housing which you don't pay for (provided you live overseas), a complete set of matching furniture for every room in the housing that you didn't pay for and don't pay for, upkeep on the housing that you don't pay for, access to a medical unit at post that you don't pay for, and flights back to the US once a year that... you don't pay for.

I enjoy not paying for all of those things. I enjoy the ---- dollars that go into my savings every month instead of into a mortgage payment or upkeep. I enjoy not having to decide whether we should see family or save the six thousand dollars it would take to do so. I enjoy having a seat for Edwin for our flights across the world to see the family. I enjoy, in between posts, having 4-6 weeks of additional vacation to see some more of that family.

However, there are always downsides to a free ride, or rather lunch. When my paid for housing doesn't have adequate air conditioning in the kitchen and my butter barely holds it shape and all chocolate has to be refrigerated because the temperature routinely hovers around 85 degrees, I am somewhat annoyed. Not enough to start paying my rent, but I don't like cooking dinner with sweat running down my back.

And if I might ask that perhaps an AC unit be put in the kitchen, or maybe just a fan, I do feel a tiny spark of frustration when I'm told that I'm free to have it put in - if I pay for it (and then enjoy it for the next 14 months until I leave and somebody else gets to enjoy it). Or if the bathrooms have nothing even resembling a vanity, I am once again welcome to have some custom cabinetry made at my own expense that I am then again welcome to leave for the next occupant.

Or when I'm scheduling flights (that I don't have to pay for) and I'm told that the flight that I have to take is one that only has three seats together and so I get to choose which one - the three year-old? the two year-old? the six month-old? gets to spend 9 1/2 hours on a separate row, I do heave a few large sighs.

But of course, I'm the only one heaving them for myself because everyone else in the normal working world has to shell out big bucks to have all of those things. And I'm grateful for the extra cash. But sometimes, just sometimes I'd like to have it be my choice that my kitchen isn't air conditioned - because hey, I don't like to pay high rent. Or I took that lousy flight because I'd rather use the money on something fun.

Of course those minor annoyances aren't enough to give up the perks. Just minor annoyances, that's all.


UnkaDave said...

Sorry about the annoyances, I'll keep on paying my taxes for you.
It was fun seeing you and the girls today. Let them know I've been pretending to go to the airport and pick them up.

PaulaJean said...

A few indulgences now and then are cheaper than long-term psychiatric care. :-)