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16 July 2009

the benefits of networking

i have a strange time relating to people socially. one way or another, most people are going to annoy me in some fashion that my brain-box obsesses over until i'd much prefer not be in their presence. i didn't notice this trait until being on certain assignments for so long. for the first 4 years with TheGeneral, i worked primarily maintenance jobs; that is, you hop in, work 7 days a week, 12+ hours a day for 3-6 weeks, and you leave. that's it. just enough time to meet people, make some connections, get a job done. you have have just enough time to look around the area, but not so much that you are bored by the landscape.

since 2005, i've been primarily on long term installations. india from early 2005 through late 2006, 2007 was a highlight in bad management where i didn't do much, and then i've been in egypt since january 2008. it turns out, i think, that these long term assignments are slowly but methodically driving me insane. i still cringe when i think of pretty much anything related to india. i met people there that i truly grew to despise due to either willful (or not) incompetence, and general lack of understanding who knows more about what i do. i've noticed it a lot here lately as well. there are some egyptians onsite that i would consider acquaintances, colleagues, but on occasion, they go off on how i NEED to get married and have babies and get a house, which i want to do someday. the problem is, these are from guys that live AND work in egypt. i don't work in my home country with my family. several of these people are muslims who see the world differently (and uncompromisingly) different from me. **please keep in mind, i'm not saying all muslims are like this, just the ones who are driving me crazy are**. one guy wants me to get married so i can have my wife cleanthe house, have my food ready, take care of my kids when i get home so i'll have a calm mind. he doesn't much understand that i don't think i'd be happy with a wife who didn't strive for more than that. i asked him how he would like it if his wife worked and HE took care of the kids, cooked, cleaned, etc., complete role-reversal, but he really had no answer. he basically just said that's not the way it is, not the way his god tells him it should be. but i asked him wouldn't he bored, he said yes... then what about his wife? again, not much of an answer, or at least, not much of an answer a western woman would accept without throwing a few things at him.

in short, my fuse has grown shorter and shorter every day that i'm here. i know it sounds like an excuse, but sober... i have a really hard time tolerating these people. and by these people, i don't just mean the egyptians, i mean some of my colleagues, the hotel staff, the taxi drivers. just about everyone is hitting a raw nerve nowadays.

i've gone off on a bit of tangent though. where i was going with this is, what little sober sociability i had before coming here, it is atrophying, due to the people available to socialize with. then when i joined the delta HHH a little over a month ago, things changed. maybe it's that i'd stumbled into another social group completely unrelated to work, but i'm having a wee bit more fun. granted, the HHH isn't completely (or maybe even at all) sober, but it's introduced me to people that i don't have to be tipsy to not want to asphyxiate. we've been running once a week, learning about each others' past, i've been to several dinners with TheMougli (hash name), who has a similar displeasure toward the indian continent, and his wife, ThePlasticBag (hash name). i was invited on a "diving" trip (entailing nothing but trying to get to every dive bar in alex), but i totally forgot about it after a long day at work. i just got a call from TheEweTrollop (hash name) asking if i wanted to get together at TheKiwi's (hash name yet to be given) house for dinner tonight. i was thinking about going out drinking or maybe catching a movie, but that's what is cool, they go out and do things. they all kind alive near each other which helps, while i'm about a 10 minute cab drive away, but it's pumping some life into this assignment, that after almost 8 months has grown quite stagnant. TheEweTrollop also asked if i wanted to go sailing tomorrow. sailing! i'd never been sailing in my life until last year's R&R to australia, and it was a fantastic time. i thought about learning more about sailing, i'd even bought some books which are waiting for me at home, and out of nowhere, i get invited to go again, and i'm incredibly excited to do something that's still new to me. here's to hoping i don't have to work tomorrow now.

all of this "new" experience stuff can be traced back to accidental networking (that bastard device of kiss-asses looking to climb the ladder... at least, that's how i always thought of it), but this is flesh-n-blood social networking. it's not facebook, it has nothing to do with work connections, favors, benefits. maybe this is how normal people make friends. i may have forgotten how. it all started when we had a trainer here, he met TheEweTrollop and his wife, TheCallGirl (hash name) at the hotel they were staying at as well while waiting for their apartment to be ready. TheTrainer invited us all out to meet at ThePortugueseClub (ThePC), we friended, went on a few daytrips, but i never really thought anything of it. they were nice enough, but with "friends" in this field being so transitory, i figured i mightn't see them again. then i took some time off the drink and didn't visit ThePC again for a while. i went back one night, and as i've told already, imbibed, agreed to run the hash the next morning, and the rest is history. i have a new circle of friends. they've given me names of people they know on the dubai and doha hash in case i get assigned there next, their a mixed bag of pretty interesting people.

and i'm looking forward to sailing tomorrow.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found some people. Ex-patriot life can be one of the most exciting and yet isolating experiences of all time. I hope this group of friends brings you a lot of neat opportunities.
The J-rod's wife

9:09 AM, July 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt I really need to explicitly tell you this, because I hope you already realize it. BUT, regardless -- and I hope you've realized this before now -- it's called: getting a life. Right now you just have an existence. It's obvious you're not enjoying the work. Yes, ok, there are aspects you enjoy, but you're not enjoying everything about the assignment. Add to that the time lost to do the things you truly want to do, and you're moving farther and farther away from what you want. I wouldn't have been able to get into tri, rock climbing, salsa dancing, get back to camping and canoeing, skiing, play random indoor soccer games, get into MTB, or have the opportunity to think about adventure racing, riding motorcycles, tuning my car, skydiving or the numerous other "new things" that I'd like to do WITHOUT having resigned from The General. You know this. I highly doubt you're ready to make the break, but you're getting closer. All I can say is that life doesn't instantly become easier once on the outside regardless of how big your money stack has become, but once you take the red pill and free your mind ... it's good.

9:13 AM, July 16, 2009  
Blogger themom said...

This inclusion with the Harriers has ben good it appears. I'm happy for ya!



9:53 AM, July 16, 2009  
Anonymous Clement said...

The HHH is worldwide! You'll find friends through them wherever you go! So glad you finally tried it out!

11:41 AM, July 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had similar experiences as an expat - mostly in Europe, so you're not alone in that. It helped me when I carved out a life away from work and made as many (if not more) local friends than fellow native English speakers. I think that helped too and I have life-long friends to show for it. I barely remember a time when those people weren't a part of my life. In many ways I avoid my colleagues and keep work completelt separate whether at home or abroad. It helps. Oh, and meeting people through athletics reinforces positive interaction in a remarkable number of ways.

1:54 PM, July 16, 2009  
Blogger trinnydecca said...

The HHH sounds fun. I wish I were a runner.

You don't have to be abroad to experience what you're experiencing work-wise. I'm going through the same thing here. My heart goes out to ya.

9:56 PM, July 16, 2009  
Anonymous Savio said...

As any FE will tell you: it takes 2 weeks to lose the "newness" of a location before it just becomes day-to-day, 6 months to completely feel at home, and a year to get bored with a place. That's why maintenance assignments are nice... you are always in a new place (which has its own drawbacks).

Getting away from theGeneral helps a bit in that you regain some mental bandwidth, but the struggle with things getting played-out is always there. I'm 3-years post-field, and 3 months post-General... and it really is starting to feel like cabin fever... much like working 6/12 with the same people everyday.

The best thing I've found to fight all this is to switch things up, even things that don't need changing. Much like you, the coolest turns in life have been from doing something random, with an openess to whatever might come of it.

By the way, have you had the fun Egyptian experience of having someone propose marriage to their sister? Hali-bali all over the place.

6:15 PM, July 19, 2009  

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