X-Patriated (That’s a Roman Numeral Joke)

A little over ten years ago, I was working as a programmer for a defense contractor. One day at work, the systems administrator popped his head into my office.

“Hey, how would you feel about relocating for work?” he asked.

“It would depend on where to, I suppose,” I told him.

He paused. “How about…Kuwait?”

It was at this point that I realized that he wasn’t just making idle conversation. My company had picked up a contract in Kuwait, and wanted to give me right of first refusal. I thought about it, and realized that although I’d spent plenty of time traveling, I’d only ever lived in an area contained in a sixty-mile radius. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to change that.

After getting my company to sign papers promising that they would not attempt to leave me in Kuwait for longer than a one-year period, and that they would offer me a job upon my return, I called up my girlfriend, who at the time was living several states away.

“So, we’re in a long-distance relationship,” I began. “So it doesn’t really much matter how long the distance is, right?”

I’m not certain she fully agreed with me on that. Regardless, she wasn’t inclined to stop me from going on an adventure, so I packed up my life and prepared to go live in the Middle East for a year.

In the interest of keeping people update on what I was up to while I was gone, I decided to send out periodic emails. I don’t know what I planned to put in these emails initially, but what they ended up being was almost entirely a catalogue of what could go wrong with navigating a bureaucracy.

June third marks ten years since my return from Kuwait, so I’ve decided to start republishing these emails to celebrate the anniversary. I’ll post one each Sunday starting on February eleventh, so that the final one comes out on June third. I have edited them slightly to fix typos and change the overuse of semicolons. Also, I’ve changed most of the proper nouns to be people and places from The Neverending Story, for no good reason really.

Come, travel with me to a far-off country! Marvel at its beautiful vistas—just barely visible through the tangle of red tape.

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