Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Bidding Story

It's 23 hours later, and I'm still oh so excited about my next assignment to Kampala.  It has been a stressful month navigating the bid list and the process, and now that everything worked out well I can look back fondly and sigh.  Those around me who had to deal with my worrying and what-if-ing and calculating and fretting - I owe you a million thanks.  And to N, who can happily say "I told you so" - thank you for talking me down several times.  You really would have made money if you'd taken that bet on me getting Kampala. 

My first look through the bid list was not a great one.  I wrote about how I was expecting some disappointment and let down, but it was pretty devastating at first glance.  I was not prepared to have so few valid options - well under 30 required bids, which would mean including posts I really did not want to put on my list.  My top choice was on there, but the first position was invalid and the second position was deleted from the list.  My poor mother skyped with me within an hour of my seeing the list, and I was an emotional wreck.  She tried to reason with me and give me good advice, and I just was too upset to listen.  My top 10 was solid and exciting, but I was worried about getting assigned to 11 through 22, which were posts where my cats couldn't come and/or with other factors about which I wasn't thrilled.  And no matter how many people told me I was likely to get a top 10 pick (all high differential, mainly non-garden spots), the anxiety was there.  Sure I had equity and a solid strategy, but what if??  It was hard to concentrate on the exciting possibility of getting one of my top bids because I was still worried about not getting one of them. 

I was able to add in some previously-invalid bids to fill out the 30 bids, but they had to be ranked 23-30 even if they were all posts I liked better than 11-22.  I did a lot of reading, asking questions of fellow FS people (including some amazing FS bloggers who were generous with their time and advice), calculating, re-calculating, fretting, and more reading.  Finally, I submitted the list, and it was out my hands. 

I had a pretty good idea of when the assignments would be announced, based on previous bid cycles.  And the CDOs were right on time!  I was a mess yesterday at work, knowing the assignment was probably coming.  I actually started running a fever from the anxiety, and my stomach was in knots.

When I finally got home around 9pm, a friend announced that the revised bid list had been posted (a good indicator that decisions had been made).  I asked if Kampala was still on the list.  It was.  My heart sank, even though I had decided I would be deliriously happy with bids 1-4, happy and satisfied with 5-10 and 23-30, and only disappointed with 11-22.  Another friend cautioned that the revised bid list might not be the final revision and that some posts may still need to be removed.  This cheered me slightly, but I was still sure I was not getting Kampala. 

And then the email came.

I opened it, and of course it loaded agonizingly slowly.  And there it was.  Sadie, you are going to Kampala!  I don't even know how to describe the elation, because I was a little bit in shock.  I posted to FB (because it's not official until it's Facebook official) and immediately called my mom.  My mom had already told me she was not going to answer the phone at work if she saw it was me because she didn't want to talk to an emotional wreck.  (She's not being heartless, just practical.  Add in crying to a poor internet phone connection, and it's a nightmare.)  But for some reason she did answer.  I didn't even say hello, I just screamed, "I'm going to Uganda!"  I'm not sure who was happier...  After I got off the phone with her I called my dad at home, who was also very excited. 

Facebook was busy last night and today with all my newly assigned friends and colleagues announcing their posts and congratulating one another.  Thank goodness for Facebook!  It looks like most people got a top 5 pick and are pretty happy with where they are headed.  Nobody has told me outright that Kampala was a top bid for them, but I still wonder...

And now with the wisdom of hindsight, I can say that the process worked out and that I'm very happy.  But boy did I manage to stress myself out! 

I've had lots of messages, calls, and emails today from people telling me that they have known people who loved serving in Kampala, which is very encouraging.  It seems to be a great place to live and work.  I am super excited about my job as well as the post itself.  And one of my very good friends from A-100 will be posted there as well!  And my great friend B and I can finally have the East Africa adventure we dreamed up all those years ago when we were poor grad students at UCT. 

And now it's time to return back to Earth and get back to the here and now.  I still have a year left in Jeddah, and I need to be careful not to let it slip by too quickly without enjoying my time here.  Knowing where I'm going next (and being excited about it) is just a bonus. 

The best part:  I don't have to bid again for two years!  And then it's a whole different system to learn.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

And The Winner Is...


KAMPALA, UGANDA!!!!  A Consular position beginning Fall 2012.

More info, including the story of bidding, to come soon.  For now, I'm basking in the excitement of getting my #1 bid and putting all the anxiety of the last month behind me.  Time to focus on the future - back to Africa!!

For more information: and