281. Roland was a carpenter in Virginia. He and Sheila had three kids—two boys and baby Jessica. The baby had been in and out of the hospital for the last year because of infections and other problems. She was very weak and sick. The doctors were not confident that she would live another year.
Taking care of Jessica was expensive. The family was deep in debt. Roland, an independent subcontractor, had medical insurance, but he had very high deductibles.
Things were bad. Roland saw no light at the end of this tunnel. Then he saw an ad in the newspaper: "Security guards, contract workers wanted. $100,000 a year. First $80,000 tax free. $20,000 bonus for extending contract an extra year." He called the number. The line was busy, but he kept calling and finally got through. He was worried that the jobs were all taken, but they told him plenty of jobs were still available. They said they would give him two weeks of training in Texas. Then they would fly him to Iraq for his assignment.
Roland told Sheila he had to take this job. He knew it was dangerous; he might get injured or killed, but the money was too good. Plus, the family would have full medical benefits, which would enable the baby to get the care she needed. Roland said if he survived the first year, he would probably sign up for the bonus and a second year.
Sheila was worried. She asked, "What if you get killed? What are we going to do without you?"
"You can't think like that, honey," he said. "You've got to think positive. Think about how well off we'll be in two or three years after I bring back all that money. This is the best thing I could do for this family."
Sheila hugged him and sobbed. "I don't want you to go."
Roland flew to Houston five days later.
4.7, 78.1, 3%, 9.7, 321
Vocabulary: assignment benefit bonus carpenter confident contract debt deductible guard independent infection positive security subcontractor survive tunnel well off
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