Even a Broken Clock is Right Twice a Day

It finally happened. My husband’s number came up in the Great Promotion Lottery!

We were not expecting this. Seriously, trend lines were not pointing in this direction. Luck had not been on our side, and the whole special needs thing had been a MAJOR bidding problem over the last few years. I already had a (much more entertaining) blog post written in my head based on my husband getting kicked to the curb after twenty-five years of service.

For the last year or so, we have been living in a state of uncertainty that was more stressful than even the usual Foreign Service craziness. And the last few weeks nearly put both of us over the edge. I tried to put a positive spin on it: 51 is not a bad time to start a new career, I said. Silver lining, make lemonade, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I truly do believe there is a kind of Stockholm syndrome among FSOs. They get treated badly over and over again, and yet keep going back for more. Please, sir, may I have another? This is not healthy! I was ready to see that cycle broken. Seriously, I was very ready.

But, on the other hand, right when your kid is graduating high school is really, really not the best time to get fired! We would have been OK, one way or another, but on the other hand, it feels good to know that college is more or less covered now. Really good.

It’s also completely awesome to be able to bid and not worry about schools. We have a bid list put together and I almost don’t care which post we get. They’re all good. Just let me know when you get the handshake baby, I’m ready to go. Or DC is OK, too. It’s almost like we are *gasp* worldwide available again!

The evil cycle is pretty much broken. By the next time “up or out” becomes an issue, college will be behind us, and real retirement will not be all that far off. Moving to a non-profit job, to consulting, or to part-time work will all be real, and interesting, possibilities for my husband (and for me).

The promotion and bidding process at State is about as impersonal and random as it could possibly be. It is a well-known fact that every single list has some real head-smackers on it. I personally can think of at least one very senior officer who does not have either the foreign language or managerial skills to run a Burger King, much less a large embassy section. And we all know perfectly nice, competent people who have been kicked out. It’s usually the nicest, most sensible people, as a matter of fact. The ones who sh** downhill tend to do pretty well.

So, that’s why this feels like winning the lottery. It could have gone either way, it really could have.

But for once, just this once, it went our way.



  1. Congratulations to you and your family! Nice to hear that sometimes the wild winds of the Foreign Service blow in the right direction.


  2. Congratulations! To your husband, and to you! I totally hear you… within a month we had to endure the ‘tenure’ phase, the bidding and the promotion ‘guessing-games’… was joking with the husband earlier today, there’s a good chance that within a month we’ve faced tenure-promotion-furlough! 😮 Just kidding, but again, much success for your next post assignment!


  3. So glad for you both! You’ve certainly earned it, but I know you know those who have too and didn’t get promoted. So congratulations, and I hope the rest of your tenure is just how you want it!


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