What's the USA doing here? Am I not in Scotland? Well yes I am, but my mind did some wandering off to the US. And I'll explain why.
Coming back from glacier-dominated desolation it can take a while to come back down to Earth with its microscopes, tide gauge records, expenses claims and what have you. And some people are intent on making it worse.
On a Thursday I was back in the UK. On Friday I was back in the office. I was rooting through the backlog of mails when a new one came in after about half an hour. It inquired if I may be willing to join a field trip in the USA the next month? One of the staff members might be prevented from going by unforeseen events, and they might need replacement. Such as me...
I had just come back from Switzerland, I would be off to Scotland in less than two weeks, and less than two weeks after that journey the field trip would kick off. Hectic! But I soon grasped this would be an offer I wouldn't be able to refuse.
The field trip would be in the NW United States, where I've never been; it would be run by Jon who has done it many times before, and is the kind of guy to organise it all the way into the small details; the chap I would be replacing is similar in that matter so it would be easy to hit the ground running; and I really need some teaching on my CV. This may be just the paved way to start. Most of the trip would focus on human geography, which would be interesting to see from close by, and I would be the sole responsible for physical matters, and that's quite an interesting responsibility. And to make it worse Jon urged me to, if indeed I would join, fly in a few days earlier and get over jetlag and culture shock while staying with some friends of his (who live at an amazing location) where he would spend the eve of this field trip. Blimey. How enticing can you make it.
I was all sold. But first the initial guy would have to decide if indeed he would drop out or not. And by the time that had been decided on there were some other matters to settle; with the insurance, and with the head of school who had to approve of this configuration.
While I was in Scotland the message came through the insurance company was OK with it. So far so good.
Then the final decision came through. I'm out. The head of school had decided the most important thing was that the students would notice as little as possible of the sudden withdrawal of the initial guy. So instead of hiring me, with all youthful enthusiasm (and lack of experience) I may have to offer, they decided on a chap who didn't need this at all for his CV or his general development, but who had done this trip before, and knew much more about the projects that would have to be supervised. Fair enough. But a bit sad for me! I hope the guy enjoys his bonus trip, and as soon as I get back to Plymouth I should find out what other field trip I can participate in. Because all agree (me included, of course) I should do some field trip or other. I hope it will as alluring as this one...