This weekend, my husband and I celebrated ten years married. We escaped for the weekend, child free, to Manchester. On the train, a smily guy sat at our table and we invited him in to our conversation. It turns out he is from Selby, didn’t do too well at school, so through his dad, entered the welding trade (is that right; something specialist in gas pipes – Drax power station being the big local employer) and was on his way back to Australia where he was currently working, fitting a new pipeline in the middle of the desert, alongside 300 or so other guys from around the world. The pay was good, and the three-weeks-on, one-week-off suited him much better than the previous contract in Scotland where the 5-days-on-2-days-off didn’t give him enough time to actually get home and spend time with his family. The marriage has since broken up so he drives straight from Manchester airport every three weeks to pick up his sons, to spend one precious week with them before handing them back to their mother and returning to work on the other side of the world.
The thing about this guy was, he was so jolly. He said, honestly, looking me in the eye, that he was just making the best of a bad situation. He was desperate to somehow find a way to live and work closer to his sons, but this was the way his life had worked out, and he certainly wasn’t complaining. As he shared his story, and we enjoyed some banter on the train together, my husband and I really felt we had caught an insight into a genuine, honest, hard working, family loving guy. It crossed my mind that this was better than any job interview when the candidate may be so full of nerves, that their true personality doesn’t really come across. And it just so happens that my husband has a few contacts in the local metal-welding network. They exchanged emails, and maybe, just maybe, a chance meeting on the train has helped him come home.