“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place” – Sarah Dessen

It was the first Friday in the month of April 1979, when I got home, Lynda told me that Gord had called and wanted me to call him back tonight.  I asked Lynda if he mentioned anything else.  She said, no.  He just wanted to talk to you.  He didn’t realize that you don’t get home before six.  Don’t forget they are an hour ahead of us.  I said check with the kids if they wanted to go for cheap spaghetti.  She said aren’t you going to call him back.  I said will call him later.

When we got back from our dinner, I went to our bedroom and called Gord.  He answered on the first ring.  Probably he was waiting for my call.  I asked if everything is okay with them.  He said everything’s just fine but I got a question for you.  I said shoot.  When you were here in Fredericton, did Lynda like the city?  I said she thought it was a very nice and clean city.  He said do you remember our conversation when you said give me a call if you needed me.  I said I sure do.  He said that’s the reason I was calling you.  I know I don’t have any appropriate position to suit your qualifications and I am stuck in a bad situation.  We just started a new project called the Consumer Sales Tax and I am having all kind of problems to get it going.  The province doesn’t have any effective tools in place to monitor and collect provincial sales tax from the businesses around the province and as a result there are millions of dollars every year the province loses.    

I said but I don’t have any direct experience in designing systems Gord.  You know that.  He said I need your analytical mind to analyse the whole situation which you can do it in your sleep.  I never knew anybody better than you with analytical competencies.  I said you may be overstating my capabilities.  While I am flattered, I don’t like to disappoint you.  He said you don’t have to worry about that.

What kind of timeframe we are talking about?  He said I don’t exactly know because nobody has ever defined the scope of the project in a meaningful way.  However, if you and Lynda can give me a maximum two years, that will be great.  Nevertheless, before you make up your mind you need to know something else:

  1. The new building in downtown is delayed for another few months and when it’s ready, we will have only our datacentre located in the building.  In order to accommodate other members of our staff, we are renting houses in the downtown and your project is located in one of those rented houses.  In other words, you’re not going to have a decent office;
  2. We have a strong union here in New Brunswick.  Our total department is unionized.  I cannot hire anybody for any important position from outside without going through a painful process to clear it with the union as they always prefer to promote within.  It’s time consuming process but I have already started that process and if you and Lynda decided to come here, I will get somebody to get in touch with you and he will go through everything with you; and
  3. Unfortunately, you will not be reporting to me directly but you will always have access to me.

He also said it’s a big decision for you as I know that you are making very good money and got an expense account, not to mention a company car but you will be doing a favour to me.  Let me talk to Lynda on the weekend and I will let you know first thing in the morning on Monday.  He said that’s sound promising.

When I went back to our living room the kids were watching something on TV and Lynda said let’s go in the garden and talk. 

As soon as we sat down in our chairs, she said you were on the phone close to 45 minutes.  I said mostly Gord was talking.  She said what is he up to?  I said basically he offered us a job unofficially because of the unionized environment he’s dealing with and he said he’s going to get somebody from the HR to get in touch with me.  So what’s the bottomline here, she asked? The only ways I can answer your question by summarize my conversation with Gord:

  1. The job doesn’t offer much in terms of salary and if we decided to accept the offer, our annual income will be reduced close to $10,000 but it offers benefits like medical, dental, and everything else which right now we don’t have with Eletex;
  2. It doesn’t offer a company car or an expense account;
  3. They don’t even have any office building, I will have to work from a basement of a rent house in downtown;
  4. I will have nobody working for me and I will not be reporting to Gord directly;
  5. I don’t even have the right skills to do what he expecting me to accomplish but he seemed to have more confidence in my proficiencies than myself;
  6. He needed me there ASAP but he seemed to appreciate the fact that it will take sometimes for us to organize everything here.  So he’s hoping we will be there at the beginning of July; and
  7. He also believed that it’s not going to take more than two years for me to get everything sorted out for him.  In other words, if we didn’t like to continue to live there, we should be able to go somewhere else in 1982.

Lynda said those were disadvantages are there any advantages for accepting the job offer.  I guess there are indeed some advantages.  For instance:

  1. This is an excellent opportunity for me to upgrade my skills which will enable me to progress either within the government or any other industry.  It will allow me to gain autonomy, motivation, and improve my overall performance;
  2. It will provide us with an opportunity to work and live in a different province with strong characteristics.  Our kids will remember the time we are going to spend in Prediction hopefully for the right reasons;
  3. We will get to spend some time with our friends Margret, Gord and their girls and Dorothy; and
  4. It will provide mom with an opportunity to come and spend some time with us.      

Lynda said it’s going to take some time to get our things sorted out.  For instance:

  1. What are we going to do about our townhome? 
  2. Are we going to continue to rent it out or sell it?
  3. What are we going to do with the house we are living in? 
  4. Are we going to sell it or rent it out assuming that we will be back here in Ontario in a couple of years? and
  5. Do we have any plans about whether we should rent a house in Fredericton or buy one?   

I said I think we should rent a place in Fredericton.  We should continue to rent out our townhome but we should sell our house.  The reason I am suggesting to sell our house because we may not come back to Ontario.  She said I don’t know if I like your suggestion.  Aren’t you forgetting that my mom still lives in Ontario?  I said how I can forget that.  At the same time it doesn’t matter where we live, your mother will always be welcomed to come and stay with us for a while every year.  We need to start thinking in terms of the opportunities for the potential advancement for us and our kids.  It shouldn’t matter to us where we live simply because we left our home country with the objective to improve our lives.  She said, I guess.

I said what’s the verdict? She said you would like to go, don’t you? I said that’s not important what I like to do. You need to make up your mind and tell me what’s your decision. She said I feel sorry for Mrs. Benda and I said I do that too but it’s not a sustainable situation. Sooner or later something’s going to happen to her as she’s totally out of control. Lynda said alright let’s go to Fredericton.

Our Story – Chapter 27