Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Blues

This is a Loooong post. 

I Have spent the last 2.5 weeks flying solo with a toddler in a town where I know NOBODY, while Stone has been busting his ass running a course for his company in Canada. 

Tonight I received the following text message from Stone:

Hmmm... Crab For Dinner. Yum Yum!! 
Tom and I shared 3 LB. of King and 1 LB of Snow Crab. 
OMG, Wish you were here. XXX

I had spent the day in rental car return hell, picking up the truck I bought (2003 F150, with 127K miles on the clock), dodging giant insects,  and hanging out with an annoying, complaining toddler. We ate leftover Chinese for dinner. 

Let me start this with a few photos of positive stuff. Most were taken in my home town. We went up there for five days last week, and spent the entire time riding horses, chatting with my best friend, and hanging out with the family. 

This is Suzie, a 27 year old Arab mare. And the kid, and Me.

I rode these same horses at this same grocery store growing up

This is Davie's Chuckwagon. Best Breakfast in the world

This is steak and eggs with hash browns, and your choice of toast or 3 pancakes

this is the kid and a chicken
This is one of the many bugs in Houston. Looks like a scorpion, but it's not. 
The Buffalo Rose Saloon in Golden, Co. They are famous for welcoming Al Jazeera to cover the US Elections live from the bar. They are also famous for being an awesome music venue and local hangout for the last million years or so.
Inside they have a toy crane. This one is different, beacuse you catch a live lobster, and then the kitchen cooks it for you.  $2.00 a try. AWESOME. 
The euphoria has worn off, and boys and girls, your correspondent has the Blues. This move has been THE SUCK. Honestly. Stone's company has gone out of their way to make things as difficult as humanly possible every single step of the way. My outlook is hindered further by the fact that THREE DAYS after we arrived in Houston, Stone departed for a SIX WEEK business trip to Canada.

Seriously, Shell if you are listening, and "MISH" our totally fucking useless "Shell transfer advisor" in the Philippines You guys have been totally inflexible cunts. I feel like you, Shell, Hate us, and want us to be miserable, despite the fact that we have, effectively, bent over backwards to accommodate your endless, pointless, and totally fucking stupid rules and regulations. 

Here is our Entire Move in bullet point form: 
  • Stone accepts a transfer to Houston, they need him immediately.
  • We are told we (the Family)  cannot move immediately, because we are not allowed to move until Stone has a US work Visa. 
  • Shell's Internal systems lead to endless delays in getting the lawyers working on his US Work Visa
  • Stone uses his existing US visa to work 5 weeks in Houston, and will return to Oman for 3 days to do the final US Visa paperwork and check us out of the country.
  • Meanwhile I pack the house, sell the cars, close down business, re-home our OCD suffering Maid, throw a yard sale, and loose my mind. 
  • We ask if we can postpone our repatriation leave until December, offering to cover any differences in cost. Our request is declined, unless we want to forfeit the tickets and the leave time entirely. 
  • Stone returns to Oman for 3 days, and receives his US work Visa from the US embassy.
  • We immediately send a copy of the visa to the Shell Transfer desk to facilitate the booking of the tickets that will take us from Stone's home country to the US. 
  • We spend a week in Australia before heading to Stone's Home country, and nothing happens. Reminder emails are sent.
  • Our Omani bank accounts and credit cards are abruptly frozen.
  • We attempt to depart from Australia, but cannot, as the kid and I are not Citizens of Stone's country, and as such are not allowed to board the plane without an outbound ticket. Shell has not yet booked our outbound tickets. 
  • Stone spends an hour and a half purchasing myself and the kid a return ticket to Australia. 
  • we arrive in Stone's Home country, and spend 3 weeks freezing our asses off with my mother in law, who hates me. 
  • Many reminder emails are sent, and stone places a shouty call to "MISH" our transfer advisor. we are 4 days from when we need to leave his country, and still, nothing has happened on the tickets. 
  • We would gladly log onto Expedia, and book the tickets ourselves, claiming reimbursement later, but we are not allowed to. 
  • Finally, we receive an email telling us to email Shell @ Travel agency . com and sort it ourselves. HOW FUCKING HARD WAS THAT???? Mish? You could have told us that three weeks ago!
  • Stone spends 4 hours securing refunds for our tickets back to Australia. 
  • We fly to america, on a shit flight schedule, (19 hours of flights and 10 hours of layovers with a sleep-deprived, jet-lagged toddler)  due to the fact that the tickets were booked so late. 
  • We spend 3 days in Houston, doing laundry, finding food, and marveling at the urban wildlife. 
  • Stone leaves for a 6 week trip to Canada. 
  • I need to buy a car, get the kid in school, sort out the lease on the temporary place we are renting, and do about a billion other things,
  • Because we arrived a week after the school year started, I can't get the kid into pre-school. 
  • Because I am not from Taxas, I don't know ANYONE, except my landlord (who is wonderful) 
  • Shell denies us a $4,000 allowance toward's our first month's expenses, because our accomodation is not "temporary" enough.
  • I spend a week and a half tilting at windmills.
  • The kid gets Really, really really sick. I have no idea about health insurance, doctors, or where the nearest emergency room is. I am totally, and completely alone. 
  • I freak out and call my mom in a wave of tears and snot. 
Ultimately, I took the kid to a Doc in a Box, and then 4 days later left to spend a week with m y brother and friends in my home town in the rocky mountains. We got back to Houston last night, and things seem better, if not still painfully lonely. 

Just a little over three weeks to Go, then Stone comes home.  


Amarant said...

This is the definition of "Just when you thought things can't get any worse, they actually did".

Bureaucracy is probably why Shell are not helping you at all.

I guess there is one tiny bright side. Colorado Mountains !

Anne Kurian said...

Hey Suburban,
That post made me
a)Angry at Stone's new employers
b)Upset as I truly know how it can be a toddler and no other help at hand
c)Helpless as there is no way I can help since you are so many miles away!
From your posts, you come across as a person with a strong character. I hope you get have the strength to get through the six weeks. And I do hope that someon in Shell reads in the post and get his/her arse moving!

theomanibrit said...

Bastards! Really feel for you hun, as someone who moved countries and knew no one there either it can be awful. Especially if you company isn't up to scratch with the whole induction side of things. Hope things pick up for you soon. On the upside - that photo of you with the kid is really nice. Big hug xx

Nadia said...


Anonymous said...


LOL, that's how it felt when I moved to Oman the first time (time 124 1/2 now damn visa system lol).

INshaAllah you'll make some great new friends. You like cars? Check out Huston's racing scene. Is smaller than Abu Dhabi for sure, but is fun for weekend kicks;)
-OmaniPrincess too lazy to sign in.

Blue_Chi said...

Sorry to hear about all the trouble that you've gone through! It's natural to feel lonely when you move to a new place, I'm sure things will improve soon!

Blewyn said...

Join the Space City Hash ! Sure fire way to make friends....

Amber said...

I think we are living lateral lives just in different places. GE sucks too. Just keep telling yourself that 'it may get worse, but it will also get some point' :) Chin up! I would say "at least they speak English" but it is Texas and you are a little close to the border...that statement isn't always true.

the MET office said...

I hear that Shell is trying to shed staff. Would it not be easier / less expensive for The Company to get them to leave of their own accord by making life hard for the workers while with Shell?? Thus: make a move as difficult and stressful as possible so that the transferee will leave the company of his/her own accord. Then Shell does not have to pay severance. This seemed to be a management tool in some firms some years ago. Have times changed????

The Restless Quill said...

Damn! Sending you love from over here, sweetness. Sucks that the move was so tough! Send me a number soon, I'll call you. Muah!

Suburban said...

Thanks so much team! You guys are great! We are coping, but your comments meant the world to me.