May 21: Kuwait-Breaking News

I feel like talking. Unfortunately, it’s too late for anyone in the States to be awake, and too early for the folks in Kuwait to be up, so I’m writing instead. That means that this letter is likely to be the equivalent of one of those rambling voicemails you sometimes get, often left on your phone at 3 AM by someone presumably in much the situation I am now. Maybe you don’t get these voicemails. Maybe your friends aren’t into that sort of thing. Most of your friends, I should say. Consider yourselves lucky that I don’t have a phone that can dial the States right now.

A number of people have expressed dismay that I’m coming home, as they’ve been enjoying the tales of my adventures, mis- and otherwise. I’d planned to write something nice about how I appreciated the compliments, but that I couldn’t really continue writing after I got back home, as fish-back-in-water comedies are not terribly successful variants. As it turns out, however, I will not be making this comment, previous sentence notwithstanding. Instead, I shall be vigorously shaking my fist at all who remarked anything along these lines, as thanks to the warping influence of your wishes on reality, we’ve reached yet another new twist.

I’m like that one guy left alive at the end of a horror movie. The monster’s been chasing me for days now. At various times, it’s been stabbed, shot, knocked unconscious, drowned and set on fire, and every time it’s gotten back up. You’d think I’d have caught on! You’d think I’d know better by now. But this time! This time, I got it with a chainsaw! Its legs are half a room away from its torso! And so, relaxing my guard, I begin to amble out of the room, thoughts on the future—only to feel a slippery, bloody hand close around my ankle in an iron grip.

Let me step back from the realm of metaphor and give you a slightly more detailed, if less colorful, explanation. As was predicted, the work visa proved impossible to get in under a month, and so it was determined that the twenty-seventh would be my last day of work in Kuwait. My company instructed me to make arrangements to turn in my vehicle and apartment on the twenty-eighth. Upon reading this direction, I guffawed so loudly that I startled a bird from my balcony. I was supposed to make plans to give up my housing and transportation before plane tickets had been obtained? Sure, why not? I can’t see how that could possibly work out badly.

So as you can see, my cynicism was fully intact. Despite this, they caught me again. Yesterday, my company gave me the instruction to buy my own ticket home. They gave me a price cap, and promised to reimburse me in a timely fashion. Hardly an ideal situation, but fine; I can afford to front the cash for my ticket, and this way, I’m able to pick my own itinerary home. And so I fell for it again, because apparently this was a joke. I caught Atreyu before he left for work today to ask him if he knew how long we’d need to hang out in Georgia to check back in, and he told me that he’d gotten a call last night around midnight. “Cancel your ticket!” he was told. “You guys are going to Germany for two months!”

Now, look. I’m a fairly reasonable guy, and I’m relatively laid-back. I’ve dealt with last-minute changes with this contract since well before I got here. I was first informed of it while out of town for Halloween, told that I had a day to decide and less than two weeks to leave, and had to change my vacation plans to accommodate that imaginary deadline. I was told, at various other times, to cancel my Thanksgiving and Christmas plans as well. The job itself, once I finally got here, ended up being nothing like the contract I had signed, and I rolled with that, too. I dealt with my company failing to pay my travel expenses for several months. I worked ten-hour days, seven days a week, for almost a month, because it was asked of me. I can’t say I did it without complaining, but I don’t do anything without complaining, including things I want to do. My point is, I think I’ve established that I’m a team player here.

That said: seven days notice for a two-month trip is not good enough. I’ve made plans to go camping, and to see friends in Ohio, and to join in ComedySportz’s Summer Challenge. Those can all be canceled, of course, but it’s irritating. I’ve bought tickets to events, which cannot be canceled. That’s more than irritating. That’s lost money. I’ve restarted my car insurance and my phone. I’ve kicked my tenants out of my house. And I did all of this in the last week—nearly all; the tenants got more notice than that—having put it off as long as possible; any longer, and I wouldn’t have these things when I was ostensibly getting home, one week from now. And you’ll notice that my company has not yet actually informed me of this decision! They’ve only told Atreyu. I generally don’t see the guy on my day off, which means that if they’re hoping for this to reach me through the trickle-down method, I wasn’t likely to hear about it until tomorrow, six days before coming home. You could probably have done that math yourself, but I thought I’d stress the point.

It’s possible that I’ve received bad information. Atreyu did answer the call at midnight, after all, and may have misunderstood. Perhaps my company is only intending to jerk him around like this—which is unfortunate, of course, but only for him, and not for me. There’s always the possibility that I’ve gotten worked up over nothing here. I intend to ask them about this as soon as I can find someone awake over there. Assuming that my information is correct, I have a few other questions, too—questions like why they actually need me in Germany; why they feel they can send me there when the contract quite clearly states “Kuwait,” without so much as running this plan by me first; and how they feel about my new salary requirements when the current contract runs out on June eighth, which, let me tell you, will be quite high if I’m to be in Germany.

I suspect that we can work this out like reasonable people. However, the key word there is “people.” I have no intention of being the only reasonable one in this discussion. And I’m quite certain that we can work it out as unreasonable people, but I think it would be ever so much nicer if we didn’t have to go down that path.

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