Tuesday, September 07, 2010

On leaving Kuwait: The freaking out begins

My eyes have been so problematic that I have been tearing constantly.  Now, even I can't tell if I am tearing or crying. Both have been coming in bouts.  I couldn't sleep last night.  It won't be the first night.

I know what I have got to do, but the easy thing would be to stay here in my beautiful, bigass apartment and continue to stare at the walls - alone and semi-manless.  It is what it is.  I have had strange relationships before, but this one is the strangest. I have fallen in and out of love;  he says he'll change, and it is with a heavy heart that I know he never will.  His whole family accepts me.  His children adore me and I love them like they are my own.  I know that I'm part of the family. I know I am loved.  I'm just not part of his life.  "You can lead a horse to water" and all that.  You can't make someone want to spend time with you if they don't. When a guy leaves your bed to go to the diwaniya, there is something wrong with the picture.  Why would you want to leave a naked woman and go sit around with a bunch of smelly men?  I have used up all of my tricks.  And yet, I know I am going to miss him so much that it hurts.  He went to so much trouble to get us to where we are now (I can't believe how far we have come in 5 years) and still, I can't get him to just stay with me.  It is what it is.

The easy thing to do would be to accept another lame Kuwait job offer complete with zero job security and the inevitable 3 year tenure leading to yet another "reduction in workforce".

Which leads me to something that I want to talk about:  Getting fired in Kuwait.  I have been fired from almost every job I have held in Kuwait (never "for cause").  Am I proud of that?  Not necessarily, but it is the norm here for most expats.  It isn't like it is in the States.  They don't need to follow procedures here and there are very few reprucussions for employers who do decide to dump employees (which is what it amounts to - dumping). (Dumping in this region isn't limited to employees - friendships and relationships are easily forgotten after the novelty or benefit blush is off the rose.)  There is usually no explaination of why you are being terminated; culturally, many don't deal with any form of confrontation.   Many times there is no warning (and certainly not written warning - ever - regardless of how good a company's policies and procedures are. Case in point - Agility, my former employer.)   The employee is left to speculate. 

So please, if you are ever in the same predicament and find yourself terminated in Kuwait, don't be hard on yourself.  You are not alone.  We can start a support group.  Most of my friends have been terminated/fired/shit-canned in Kuwait.  We are the Chosen Ones.  We are the Elite.  We were fired because we spoke too much, or knew too much, or did too much.

I don't (and won't) consider myself a lesser-quality employee.  Damn, I know who I am and know what I have done for every company I have worked for - up to and including my current company of employ. I do hard work, I represent who I work for with professionalism and dedication.  If the big boys at the top get their pampers in a bunch, que cera.

I gave up on expecting appreciation and gratitude a long time ago; it doesn't come with the job in Kuwait (I combat that by sending "thank you" cards at every opportunity). In fact, I have come to the conclusion that 99.9% of employers in Kuwait only recognize money as a motivational factor for their employees.  They don't consider job satisfaction, pride, hours, or gratitude (or any other motivation for an employee to excel at their job.) Employees are not considered assets - they are considered commodities.
In my case, I believe that the attributes I posess - that make employers here hire me - are the same ones that they use to fire me.  I am a sales person and therefore come complete with a dynamic personality. I have an assertive (bossy?) American nature and it gets the job done. If I can't do something, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I can.  I ruffle feathers.  I piss people off.  I complete tasks on time and they are quality which make me proud.  If you do a good job, you anger people.  If you are assertive, you anger people.  If you do a job better than others, you anger people.  If you confront (God forbid in this society) to get a straight answer, you anger people.  How many Western expats have you seen come and go?

I never ever burn bridges:  here, there or anywhere.  During  most painful and humiliating termination I went through (Agility), I sent the Chairman a card and flowers thanking him for the opportunity to work for him.  I like Tarek Sultan.  I think he's a nice guy. I like his family.  I think he was swimming in a management pool of shit for a while and there were a lot of things that went very wrong very fast.  I just happened to be vocal about what I thought was wrong.  Ok, technically, I resigned from Agility - so said the legal documents our lawyers agreed on.  When someone escorts you to the door with all your stuff in a box, it still feels like you've been shit-canned regardless, but whatever. I don't burn bridges.

I do wonder what my family thinks after they hear the news (again).  I think they know by know how hard I work so they should have a good indication of my work ethic.  However, if I heard that someone had been terminated (again), I would wonder. Dayam y'alls are probably wondering, right?

I'm one of those people who holds out until someone tells me it is time to go. I have had other job offers while working here, but I have held on.  I stayed during the financial crisis (both global and company-internal brought on by mis-management) for the past almost-two years; while my friends were getting fired (good people, good work eithics); and while my employer paid late consistently month after month.  The former GM made my life so bad that I developed hypertension and ringing in my ears.  He tried to get me to quit and threatened and bullied me; making my life hell.  I weathered that entire storm.

I'm rambling... I will continue....

I am scared shitless of starting over again back in my home country with people who love me.  I came here 14 years ago on a Big Adventure.  Everything was new and fresh and a learning experience.  Now, strange has become familiar.  When I go back to the States, will I be lonely for this familiar?  What if I'm even lonelier over there?  Starting over is huge.  It is so overwhelming.

I do trust in several things:  God. God has never let me down. I'm a good person and try to serve God every day.  You might not see me praying, but I try to help someone (either in human or creature form) every single day of my life and I work like Hell trying to do what I can. I don't lie.  I don't cheat.  God helps me because of that and I know it.  I also trust in my sister.  It is because of the same attributes I have that God loves her.  She is blessed with a form of foresight.  She's told me that my life is going to change for the good.

I knew something big was going to happen to me when I drew the Tower card for myself during a tarot reading.  Sudden, unexpected change.  I didn't know what it was in reference to - and I was confused.  I know that all my foundations have been built on solid ground; but I didn't think about this job.  No, this job was not built on a solid foundation.  I took it last minute.  It was my second choice of places to work and I had a bad feeling about it, but needed the money.

More rambing, unfocussed thoughts...

Here, I am somewhat of a novelty and I have always loved that.  Just having the knowledge of Kuwait that I do and being American is kind of unique (I think).  I have had opportunities here that I could never have had in the States.  And - I should mention how much I feel loved by people I have met through the blog. I always feel invisible in the States. What happens if I go there and just feel common? 

And speaking of common:  guess what, people?  Everybody comes here thinking that they'll go back home with a big wad of money.  I'm just another one of those people who will get on the plane and wonder how the hell I am going to pay off my credit cards once I get there.  Everybody wants their family to believe that they have been over here "making it big" when in reality, most of us are just still living paycheck-to-paycheck with perks (like a maid, no taxes - all the expat luxeries).  Will I feel like I'm going home with my tail between my legs?

I'm freaking out.  I'm trying to keep it in perspective, but holy shit - that's hard right now.  I'm having all these random thoughts like:

  • There are no bidets in the US.
  • How can I meet men with more than just a smile?
  • Where will I find machboos or tashreeba?  Where will I find the special bread?
  • Can I find a dry cleaner that picks up and delivers?
  • I have to pay a pet deposit in an apartment.
  • Will my dog be okay on the plane?
  • Can I get used to the taste of real wine (not home made)?
  • Will I become an alcoholic?
  • How can I adjust to living in a tiny apartment again (unless I can live forever and ever with my sister).
That's just the short list for now and probably enough rambling for a lifetime.


Mark said...

so you're leaving????

Cali said...

Sorry to hear about the job and that you are leaving Kuwait. Wishing you only the best for whatever you're heading to. You're a wonderful person. You will have lots and lots of lucks on your way. Let me know if you need any help moving!! Will be there for you!!!

Snow said...

Oh DG, the only thing I can say is that you should remember how you felt moving to Kuwait...a foreign country, different language, culture, society and realize how well you fit in. Now you are going back to YOUR country. Where you were raised, spent your childhood, have all your flesh and blood family. Of course you will go back as a different person, and I think it's impossible to be invisible there because of your experience living here, you are unique. You will adjust, you will get back into the 'American' way of life. You could meet a guy you like, or maybe not. If the Kuwaiti guy doesn't realize what he's losing, that is his problem, you just have to move on. This is another chapter in your life that you should embrace and enjoy. Kuwait will surely miss you but you need to move on to a more stable life...no matter which country it is in. Good luck and please keep in touch!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your next steps, sounds like some tough times ahead. Thank you for helping me with my first forays into Kuwait. My trips to Kuwait will be finishing up this year as well (15 so far?).
Schlumberger Boy

Anonymous said...

DG- I have been following you since my brother in law started teaching at Box Hill College last year. Your insight has helped me understand what he is going through. I have often thought of working in Kuwait.

I wish you the best and am hopeful you will continue your blog.

Stan said...

What a coincidence DG, You were working for Tarek Sultan and I'm working for his son , Ayman Sultan.

Guess i can keep my bags packed as well :-P

Crazy in Kuwait said...

Hey, I know how you feel I'm in Florida now after being in Kuwait for over 6 years, had to leave my husband there and momand sis to come here because I couldn't afford to keep 3 kids in private school. It's so scary, I've been here a month and I feel like a total outsider. I can't believe how much it has changed. I'm also from Cali and had to come here to Fla because it was cheaper. I'm in a redneck town and I'm so depressed. I have no family here except my grandparents and they are older so they can only do so much. If you can stay in Kuwait then do it by any means necessary because it's depressing here. I sold my cars and everything to come here and I told my husband I can't do it here so God willing I will save to get back to Kuwait even if I have to homeschool my kids. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

DG, thanks for all the interesting blog subjects.I will be praying for you.

Lydia Sidaros said...

DG, there is absolutely NO WAY u could ever go anywhere and be considered 'common'. There's no shame in your game and that's only one of the reasons why I absolutely adore u...

Kuwait is just one long chapter of your incredible story and I hope you can get excited about what lies ahead... Don't stop blogging! You'll always be DG and the charming Amerab that has helped so many feel 'home' in Kuwait.

No doubt, you will leave with a tear in your eye... damn malfunctioning eyeballs, but know that you are loved and missed whether you are in the states or in Kuwait...

Anonymous said...

I have followed your blog semi-religiously for about a year now..to the point of even reading the previous years posts....

This sucks. As far as your relationship problems, sorry. Been there (still there actually) and know all about it....now going through my second divorce and am not 40 yet....ugh!

Now for being fired, that is really petty. If it's any consolation Agility is in deep shit with the government anyway. I've been i Kuwait for almost 8 years now working in the sleazy defense industry, the whole time with the same company, ITT. The funny thing is everyone says they are a great company to work for in the U.S. I have seen a lot of dirty dealing from our management, most of whom are completely incompetenent, and thats actually being nice. This is not isolated, most companies are getting rid of people to 'reduce costs'. The company has got rid of 80% of the expat workforce since June, as well as reducing our salaries, eliminating our bonuses and even taking the FALA (foriegn area living allowance) which was authorized by the State Department, not DoD! Any semblance of job security has evaporated, and our year long contracts aren't worth the paper they are printed on.I guess things are bad all over, I'm just trying to make it till Janurary and leave here for good.

Try and remember it's not your fault, just a moronic decision by an assed-up company. They say God has a plan for everyone, and this is what I try and keep in mind during difficult moments.....Good luck, and you are in my prayers.

Butterfly on the Wall said...

WTF?! You can't leave! I just got here. I'm so selfish. I feel like I just met my long lost sister and now she's moving to another planet. Your soul may be American, but sounds like your heart is with Kuwait. It will be here when you decide to come back... And I know you will.

Be with your family now. You will be embraced with love and support and compassion a thousand fold. This is where Karma isn't a bitch.

As much as I want to selfishly keep my new sister close at hand; I understand that sometimes you just have to get out of Gods way at let the blessings come through. So, move your ass outta the way... You've got great things in store for you! ;-)

Allana said...

Hi DG... Long time reader, never posted though... I've really enjoyed your blog as it reminds me about Kuwait. I spent 6 years there and repatriated to Canada three years ago. Moving back was hard - reverse culture shock. It took a solid year before I really saw the good in being back. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Life is what you make it. You have live somewhere and it's up to the individual to make most of it.

As you figure out the new direction in your life know that no decision has to be final or absolute. Good luck with everything. From all that you've written about your family, you have a great support system who will be there for you in whatever you choose.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

DG-not sure if you know this, but the US economy is in the tank and the forecast for the next two years is bleak at best.From what I have read, you will do well where ever you go.

Jewaira said...

Whatever happens, I hope it will only be for the best.

If it's any consolation, you've touched a lot of lives through your blog and through your long stay in Kuwait.

Keep your chin up

Anonymous said...

Its time to leave dudette. You know it and i know it. Kuwait has no more soul. Its soul has turned into a rotten dead black pit. Losing your job is actually a blessing in disguise since we both know how futile it is to live here but how impossible it is to leave here either. Its like bad heroin except without the 5 min high.

Trust me, just waking up in the morning surrounded by your family and friends and enjoying diff seasons and being able to order a bottle of wine in a normal restaurant or a cold beer will make it all SO worth it.

Besides, if you were able to find a job in this tiny incestous country which is smaller than New Jersy,surely you will eventually find a rocking job back home, especially in DC where your skills and experiences with camel lovers and other moronic monkeys will surely come in handy!

I personally dont want you to leave since from a very selfish point of view it reminds the rest of us who are still stuck here, complaining,but doing nothing about it, how we are all a bunch of spineless bastards who are too afraid of change to do anything about it. We all need to grow some cojones and get the fuck out of this shithole...if not today then sometime soon before it kills our souls too and then all we are left with is a black rotten pit too.

I wish I could afford to hire you but know that I cant and know that youre better off going back anyway! Plus, I know you hate the free zone drive ;)

your fellow bethesda crab lover XXX

Caleb said...

DG, I'm sorry to hear that you're leaving as I've been following your blog for over 2 years but never posted before. I wish you all the best in your future journeys may you have a wonderful life.

now to the creature above me that is so full of hate, please leave our country if you hate it so much and grow some "cajones".

best wishes Saud Alfares.

TK said...

I have to say goodluck to you and wish you all the best.

I am a local and even I cant stand living here too long. Trust me you will feel better living in a civilised country once again.

You are a good person who doesnt need to deal with the shit here anymore.

best of luck,

Anonymous said...

Flip the energy; run with ecstasy to the healing.:-)

Sil said...

Dear Desert Girl,
I am sorry to hear about your job and about your leaving Kuwait. I have been following/reading your blog since early April, when my husband got offered a job here in Kuwait. You are right, change and an international move can be very very overwhelming. I just arrived in Kuwait with my 2 month old son a few weeks ago to be with my husband(we left our dog with my folks in the US-we miss him so much!). From your blog, it is clear you are a very strong person and you should probably look at your moving back to the States as another Big Adventure! The States aren't so bad...just make sure to live in a big city, you would probably really feel a tremendous culture shock if you move to a small town in the middle of no-where! ;o)
I wish you all the best and good luck to you and your doggie!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Desert Girl said...

Thanks everybody for your kind words of encouragement. God sends angels every day. You all don't know how much I appreciate your kindnesses.

Sometimes I don't realize how I affect others just by rambling about Kuwait. I hope that I help someone at least once a day - that's my primary goal in life. If I have helped - I'm blessed because of it.

Rosanna - who are you and how do I contact you. I'm intrigued....

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the experiences you've had in Kuwait sector will be a valuable asset to your marketability in the internationla business sector. The states are full of companies that fancy themselves as "mulitinational" with management that barely have a stamp or tow in their passports (if they have a passport) that would benefit from your skillset.

Good Luck and God Bless.

Anonymous said...

DG- Time for an update on events- Please..

Anonymous said...

WOW, I'm shocked.
I have read your blog for a number of years, commented a few times from other blogs that I had at that time and I'm SAD.
I'm sad you are leaving but happy for you also.
A new start, back to 'normality'.
As for the guy here, if you don't see any 'stability', 'future'...move on, don't be caught up in the web here or in five years you will still be feeling the same as you are now.
This is just one chapter in your long life.
I wish you all the best for the future and I hope you continue with your blog in the states.
I look forward to reading.
Good luck and God Bless :*

vinz-q8 said...

In 2008 I once tried to help you relocate & find an appartment long back via email & blogging......then i was a silent reader of DG's blog.

Today i dont know what to say.....its some kinda attachment & pain....though we have never met it feels as though u are a part of my family.God bless you dear..
Chins up !

angelo said...

and my wife is a doctor here in kuwait and during a meeting concerning employee welfare, the director referred to them as "labor units".

i believe that says it all. i applaud you..i would NEVER work for a kuwaiti company. ever. if i did, i would surely be in jail the first time i didn't gat paid...