The life of a field engineer’s wife

I thought it was tough when Doug was away at training in Houston, TX and Kellyville, OK for two weeks. It turns out that when a field engineer is out in the field it’s actually much easier on his or her family. When the field engineer is at home, chaos reigns.

This isn’t Doug’s fault. There is absolutely no structure to his work ‘schedule’. His first day on the job he went in at 8am and discovered no one else showed up until 10am – although they stay until 7pm or so. He met his manager and then discovered she’ll be gone for the whole month of November, and he met his mentor engineer – a seasoned, cynical man who has been working in the field for a few years. He went and watched the operators work for awhile and then he came home around 4:30pm because, he said, there really wasn’t much for him to do or learn on-site so he might as well come home and take care of some paperwork.

Then at 8:30pm he received a call on his new company cell phone. He would be going out on his first job the next morning and had to be in by 4am. Because the job could last a few days (and you can’t survive in this place without a vehicle), I said I would drive him in. He was excited and nervous and woke up at 2:30am. I finally stumbled out of bed at 3:15am. I drove him the half hour in through pitch-black desert, with a confused and sleepy puppy in the back of the car, and me artificially wired on coffee.

It turned out the job didn’t take that long after all and that evening I was driving back to Rock Springs to pick up my hubby, who reeked of diesel from the rigs. After a late dinner (by then it was 8pm) we fell into bed.

The next morning at 5:50am he was sitting at the edge of the bed gently shaking me: “I have another job this morning and I need to be there by 6:30am.” Not knowing if he’d be gone one day or four, puppy and I piled into the car and drove him in. 9pm that night he called me again – he was back and ready to be picked up.

Of course throughout this I’m trying to work on my book, my article, care for two pets, and retain some modicum of sanity. Not working so well. Wednesday I had a mini-breakdown and vowed that I would figure out a way to do without the vehicle because, gosh darnit, I was not going to be a slave to this crazy schedule.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I crave routine punctuated by planned recreation and spontaneity. The field engineer’s life is not for me and I knew that. I didn’t realize what an impact Doug’s choice of work would have on me, though. In fact, initially I was really sad at the idea of his going away for training from December through February but now I’m not-so-secretly looking forward to it!!

And when he gets back in March, we are so getting a second vehicle!

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