February 19: Kuwaitlessness

I’m at work, such as it is. The job is, as I’d begun to realize back in Germany, nothing but helpdesk. For reasons I can’t understand, there’s a belief that this job is extremely taxing. We’re here ten hours a day, six days a week, and I’d estimate that I’ve gotten about twelve hours of work each week so far, leaving an average of eight empty hours per day. This is the sort of job that would suck my soul out through my empty eye sockets after I clawed my eyes out from sheer boredom, except for one thing: there’s no requirement to look busy.

This turns everything around. If I had to sit in front of a monitor for all ten hours, pretending to do work, I’d be miserable. But instead, I’m allowed to do absolutely anything I want to do when there’s no work to be done, as long as I can bring it into the office. I’ve been reading books, completing crosswords, doing Sudoku, learning Arabic, building wire sculptures, developing my cartoon sketching—all the things I’d be doing at home, basically, except that I’m getting paid for them. This may be the best job I’ve ever held. Occasionally, my free time is interrupted by someone calling in with a computer issue, but so far, everything’s been well within my abilities, which means that every time the phone rings, it’s someone calling to confirm that I know more than them. Afterwards, I get to go back to whatever I was amusing myself with before. At the end of this, I’ll be required to take a 7-week vacation. It’s a hard life.

I am a bit disappointed that the job itself isn’t very challenging. However, when I was packing to come here, I crammed all the books that I thought I’d need into my luggage, so I have all of those on hand. Rather than having to use them as reference material, I can leaf through them at my leisure and learn at whatever pace I choose. I haven’t bothered to crack any of them open yet, but they’ll be there when I want them. Meanwhile, my Arabic is coming along quite well, I think. I can read the letters, albeit in that halting, overstretched way that makes native speakers smirk, and I can manage the sort of conversation I’d have while ordering food. My handwriting’s sort of shaky, but it’s coming along, too.

In what I feel is a major breakthrough, I’ve found a cartoon style that I like. I’ve never been happy with my doodles of faces or figures, except on rare occasions. I’ve been trying a lot of different techniques, though, and I’ve discovered a way to draw them that I think looks good. I’m a long way from being an artist yet, mind you. Drawing from different angles still escapes me, and I doubt I could draw the same figure twice. Still, I can manage cartoony faces with the expressions I want, which is a huge step up from the stick figures with a grin or a frown that I generally use.

It even looks like my job is likely to get me a car soon, so that I can stop sharing with Atreyu. I’d been emailing my contact at my company about it fairly regularly. You might say “harassing,” even. I’d be hard-pressed to call you wrong. Certainly my contact felt so, as he simply chose to stop responding to my emails. I felt that this was a fairly immature move on his part, so I told on him: on the next email, I CCed our mutual boss. That one got a response extremely quickly, claiming that we’d have the car in just a couple of days. That was Saturday, and this is Tuesday, but if it’s here by the end of the week, that’s close enough.

Naturally, I’m not assuming that the car will be ready in that time. Things so rarely run that smoothly. I’d be disappointed if they did, really, as I’d have nothing to complain about. Indeed, I’m currently running low on major issues. I’m down to the fact that Verizon is still trying to charge me for what they freely admit is someone else’s bill, and the money that my company owes me from Germany’s TDY time and the whole plane ticket fiasco extravaganza. That comes to several thousand dollars, so it’s not chump change, but as long as they don’t pay it, I get to make obnoxious comments about what I should do to recoup my losses. It would probably be less amusing if it weren’t for the certainty that I’ll get paid eventually, but as it is, it’s been a source of mild irritation and great amusement for the better part of a month now.

I’ve identified a number of things that are going to go wrong down the road, though; this way, I have something to look forward to. These include:

  • the fact that I’ll be driving on what people are only mostly sure is an acceptable license,
  • the weekend trip to Bahrain in two months for the purpose of leaving the country and coming right back in, made necessary because my visa clearly says “tourist,” and not “work,”
  • the coinciding renewal of my card that lets me get on base,
  • the inevitable argument when my company tries to lose two weeks of my vacation,
  • and more!

Having these planned out makes them even more entertaining when they arrive. It’s like when you’re debating a point with someone and they raise an argument you already have a rebuttal for. There’s a moment of glee when you know for certain that everything is going exactly along its preplanned paths.

Maybe you folks don’t feel this glee. Perhaps you should plan your frustrations more carefully! I highly recommend it.

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