The Caramel Crunch (12 January 2020)

Over at Caramel (Learner at Love) [a misnomer if ever there was one – she seems like an out-and-out expert to me 🙂], CARAMEL has started a new prompt. I’d like to see her prompt do well, and I had some time today to write a post, so here we go…

The prompts are called the Caramel Crunch and so far are centered around a moral question. Her question this week is here, but for your convenience I shall repeat her question.

You can’t find work in your local area that pays enough to support your family in your current lifestyle. But you have been offered a well paid job hundreds of miles away from home. It will mean being away from your family for extended periods but it will help you to pay for their education and health expenses.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I must admit I have never had this exact experience, but two come close.

My first experience was about ten years into my career. I had not long chosen the path of being a consultant, and was only with my second client. I lived around thirty miles away from the client’s site, so commuted morning and night.

However the client also had another supplier. The supplier was basically a body shop – they charged handsomely to put people in place. I’m generalising severely here, but the quality of such people was usually not very good, because the company used a large number of fresh graduates who were still learning the trade. In fact, one of the reasons the company brought me in was to provide some expertise and direction.

The people who worked for this body shop were mobile, their contracts said that the body shop could ask them to work anywhere. That clause would never have been acceptable to me, but we all make our choices. Having said that, when they were sent to a client’s site, it was normally to the same site for a year or two, so assignments were quite long-term. Their clients were usually big companies, this particular client was a High Street bank.

The people from the body shop were both men and women, single or married, children or not. Every Monday, they had to travel to the site, they would put in a week’s work, and then on Fridays they would go back home.

So I was able to observe this pattern of working at close quarters.

What can I say? People did it, they even seemed to enjoy it, for the most part. I think there was an element of freedom from Monday – Thursday, then the security of family at weekends. Indeed, for some of them, Thursday was very much going-out night, and many of the staff would enjoy the night clubs in the local city before going home the next day. Over time, these people became friends, and I joined in the tradition. In fact it was on one of these drunken Thursday nights out that I eventually met my future wife.

So whilst I was careful in any of my contracts to reject any kind of movement which wasn’t mutual (I was quite happy to agree to a mutuality clause, knowing full well that I would never agree to a client’s request), some people were prepared to do that, not only to do it, but to enjoy it.

My second anecdote did actually involve me. When I had a few more years under my belt, I decided to work up in London, and eventually had a string of clients up there. London is a nice, round 100 miles from home.

My situation differs from the question because I did not have to go to London. I went there because that was where the head offices were. The work was generally better paid, and a lot more interesting. In IT, there are basically two-and-a-half world capitals: London, New York and to a lesser extent, Sydney. So, London was where it all happened. But ultimately, working there was a choice.

I chose to commute between home and London. The journey took 2-2½ hours, each way. Each day. So while I suppose I did work away, my choice was to spend time each day on the train. For me it was good – it was obviously long hours but I was able to mix the hustle and bustle of the city with life in the country. There was nothing better than waking up on Saturday or Sunday and to be staring out at fields.

Incidentally, many of my clients were international companies. They would sometimes ask me to go to meetings at sites in other countries. Probably, 95% of these I ducked – I was travelling enough already! It never came up, but you can imagine that if somebody had asked me to work way for a prolonged period, I would’ve sooner just work someplace else – I was fortunate to be in a position to do so.


So, the question. Let’s remind myself again.

You can’t find work in your local area that pays enough to support your family in your current lifestyle. But you have been offered a well paid job hundreds of miles away from home. It will mean being away from your family for extended periods but it will help you to pay for their education and health expenses.

I think I’d certainly be prepared to give it a chance. I am not sure I’d want this arrangement to be particularly lengthy, but I wouldn’t reject it out of hand. It can be quite a tolerable experience. A bit of distance might well be good for a relationship, in any case. Might make people realise what they’re missing.

Author: Stroke Survivor UK

Designed/developed IT systems for banks, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing from home, plus do some voluntary work. Married, with a grown-up, left-home daughter.

6 thoughts on “The Caramel Crunch (12 January 2020)”

  1. I have to be pretty close to work. Luckily I live in a place that I have enough trees in my backyard that I can’t see the neighbors houses behind me and my neighbors on either side are good neighbors. Our houses don’t sit on top of each other either. That’s a plus.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s fascinating to hear of the decisions you have had and how you dealt with them.
    Thank you so much for responding! ❤

    And thank you for the compliment at the start…I am still a learner though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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