It was 1 month ago since my last contract ended abruptly, and I finally went back to work on Monday. I had a “false start” 2 weeks ago and thought I would be starting with a different client, but then my boss’ boss did some resource shuffling and told me I would be going to yet another client instead. Great, another security clearance to complete, and more waiting for a badge. By the way, I’m a federal contractor if you couldn’t guess.
In the last 4 weeks, I was lucky enough to only need to use 5 days of vacation while still accruing more. My employer allowed me to bill the other 3 weeks on an overhead account code rather than just letting me go. That means I was still getting paid a full salary and benefits while I played Nintendo and went to rehab for my back. Honestly though, I was literally waiting for a call to do something as everyone knew I was available, but there just wasn’t anything to do because of the holidays. I basically didn’t leave the house because I was afraid I would miss an email from work.
I initially got my hopes up when I heard about the new client as I thought they would be down in D.C., convenient to my subway line, but then I found out they’re in Arlington, VA. They’re around 20 metro stops away from our home! The ride is almost from one end of the metro system to the other. Door-to-door, I’m looking at a 70-80 minute commute each way at a minimum. There’s just no way to reduce that time.
But it’s not all that bad. Honestly, most of the trip I’ll have a seat on the train whereas many of you drive this amount of time, or more, and can’t relax, read a book or take a nap. Also, I won’t be outside for most of the trip, so I don’t really need to worry about the weather, unless I walked to/from the metro. Lastly, I was already paying the maximum fare on my last contract, so the only increase comes from DC Metro’s recent fare and parking rate hikes.
The work seems interesting, but it’s different from what I’ve done for the last 7 years. It’s a good thing as I’m finally diversifying my experience, but I’m also shifting further away from the technology and more into just soft people skills. I need to make sure I stay marketable in the IT field by keeping up with at least a minimum of industry jargon or else risk becoming obsolete.
I will add a few more negatives though. Since I have to go through a security clearance, and since the client requires badging into anywhere from the hallway, including the bathrooms, I need an escort just to go potty!Â Luckily a coworker just lends me his badge, which is a security violation but neither of us are concerned. I’m sure he doesn’t want to wait for me while I drop a bomb, and I don’t want him out there either.
So pretty much I’m locked into my office for at least 2 more months until I get badged, but my coworkers are pleasant and I only have one other person in my office instead of 11 like the last contract. As you can see, I’m still weighing the possibility of looking for something outside of the company, but I’m giving my current employer and contract a chance first.
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