Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Thursday, February 23, 2012

They Moved My Cheese!

**If you haven't read the short and easily readable in one hour, incredible book "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Dr. Spencer Johnson M.D. ISBN 978-0-09-181697-1 you've missed out.  If you did read it, but didn't take the time to reflect on how the book applies to your life, and which of the characters you might spend the majority of your time playing, you really missed out.**

They moved my cheese!  For weeks, maybe months, I've been going out of my mind with frustration trying to get an accurate handle on what exactly they want me to do here...They interviewed me and hired me as a program adviser/director, paid me a salary commensurate with that position and when I arrived, tasked myself and the others with exactly that duty...except they didn't...not really.  If you decide to come to Saudi Arabia to work, you'll meet many of the obstacles I'm about to cover.  Call it whatever you want, Racism, nationalism, home pride, job security...they aren't all the same thing, but they amount to the same thing...Rule Number 1 when working in Saudi Arabia: "An Arab should be in charge, preferably a Saudi"  This rule in part complies with the Kingdoms "Saudization" policy, which requires employers who hire foreign labor to also hire a minimum percentage of Saudi workers as well, but it goes deeper than that.  It goes to racial pride which can get scary quickly, it seems that the feeling is that none of the foreign workers should be capable of things the Arab's especially the Saudi's can't do.  So ok, not exactly national socialism,  but considering that foreign workers CAN do things that the guys from the GCC can't, it becomes a problem.  Another problem is that while I'm given a significant role and position of influence, I also have to play the "convince my boss that he came up with the idea game"...I don't play that game well.  If there is anything that I could learn to do better in my life, it's relax.  I can sit around and BBQ and waste the day away tinkering around the house, I can enjoy a day with the family, I can read a book, watch a movie and believe you me I can take naps with the best of them, in fact I'm willing to bet that I could win a napping contest...But I never turn off my brain, I can't seem to silence that voice in my head that says "we should be doing something", "we have important things to take care of", or lately "please get clarification on what exactly they want you to do!".  I need to stop pondering the meaning of life and remember that my first and primary job is to live my life...

Can I get a "JOBB De-scription!!! (In the style of an evangelical preacher....think Sam Kinison before he became a comedian).  I/We have been pushing this one lately, because were getting a little sick and tired of having every idiot around the campus decide that they're in charge today, and no I don't mean my bosses, not my Dean or Vice Dean, but idiots, morons, "those people" the guys who are most probably qualified to do only two things in life, rake sand, and regulate the American Financial Industry.  (Qualifications are about the same for both.)  I'm talking Lecturers with Masters and PhD's in Nursing, Medical Imaging, Lab Sciences etc...who have never in their life functioned in a clinical environment, not once.  These guys want a say in what we do, how we do it and the changes that we recommend and unfortunately I know why...they don't want to look stupid, or look like they've been collecting a salary for the past 5 years and haven't accomplished anything.  They are terrified of us, and that does not make for a good working environment. Quick thinking exercise:  It's Friday afternoon and your boss calls a meeting of the top brass, he says that corporate is sending out a team of consultants, they'll be here Monday morning. Within 15 minutes of the meetings end, the word has spread throughout the entire company, complete with ever increasing tales of what "they are really here to do".  Quickly answer the following question: Whats the first word that comes to mind if you're an employee in this situation?  Was it a four letter word describing dooky? I bet it was...Multiply that by the fear of loosing you job and being sent home to Syria, or any country in the middle of the early stages of a revolution...and that's what were up against.  Currently though, I am an adviser at a satellite campus, not the home campus, so people here get to see me every day instead of just one week a year!  ("Oh happy day!" I'm sure they all say).  Here's the problem though, when asked enough times for a written job description, something that describes what exactly it is I do, by both myself and the other employees (I had already written one, but like I said earlier it has to be "their" idea and it got ignored).  The boss finally capitulated and issued a verbal order.  "Mr. Geoffrey is in charge of training."  "he will teach, help, evaluate, and determine the training to be done".  Oh shit, he went there...within one day the other employees inside and outside my department successfully had me buried in a 15 hour lecture and lab schedule including 15 students that I now play academic counselor to.  Soooo I'm a teacher I guess...Now I have no time to complete my assignments from Riyadh, because I'm always in the classroom, I have no time to complete the other projects that I was working on for the local campus because I'm always in the classroom.  I can't evaluate the training going on because conveniently, it happens while I'm also teaching.  Most importantly though, I only have a Bachelors degree, (MBA candidate) which makes the guys here with a Masters degree suddenly feel big and bad, and gives them the stones to come interrupt my classes and speak in Arabic to my students for 15 minutes whenever they feel like it.  Damn it!!!!  That is not what I'm supposed to be doing!!!!  You hired me to help make a great program, not teach classes to only one group of students!!!!This isn't right!

Whoa hold up...Slow your roll

Wait a tic...I get it

I see what they've done...They've moved my cheese...They didn't change my salary and benefit package, they didn't change my ability to renew or cancel my contract...all they've done is move my cheese...So instead of complaining that this new cheese isn't as good as my old cheese, I'm going to embrace new cheese, I'm going to become the best teacher I can be, Masters degree be dammed, You wanted excellence, you're going to get it.  And at the end of the year, when my students are kicking ass, and the others are sucking it, maybe we'll be able to sit down and have a talk...In the meantime...,I still like my job, I still have a blue passport, I still have a family that loves me and a beautiful blond haired, blue eyed woman at home (not literally at home, I'm not Saudi for Crissakes).  and maybe most importantly...I'm still the third highest paid guy in the building...funny, what a simple concept...cheese

"Image and Link courtesy of"

Geoffrey D. Horning
EMS Program Adviser/Training Supervisor
Eastern Region, Dammam Campus

has a pretty good ring to it wouldn't you say?

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