Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dear Effin New Guy/Girl aka FNG,

It has come to my attention that new arrivals to Khartoum may in fact need concierge-type service in order to facilitate a smooth transition into country. As a result, I would like take this time to make you feel at home, and to ensure that you do not (under any circumstances) continue to annoy me with your actions as you live in the same housing compound and work in the same building as me (and I have -- for no apparent reason, taken a strong disliking to you and declared you my new "arch nemesis.") As such, I have compiled a few Rules of the Road for you to use in this (and any subsequent) foreign postings where I might actually also reside:

- Most people at post do not send emails to ALL AMERICANS and ALL LOCAL HIRES in Khartoum inviting them to a party at your residence (especially when it happens to be in the same vicinity as my house). What you may not realize is that the email address "all Americans" refers to every. single. American. in. Sudan. I realize this may shock you, but there are actually a LOT of Americans in country - much more than will comfortably fit into our housing compound, and much, MUCH more than the single bottle of Rum you have to offer your guests. Equally important, most diplomats usually do not include the phrase "bring your own meat" in any invitation. In my experience, this can, in fact, be misconstrued.

-- You may not want to advertise that you purchase the milk from the local guy who rides by on his cart with the double barrels of "fresh, frothy milk" in the morning. Yes, I am sure it is warm, fresh and frothy. I am also equally sure it is not sanitary. Trust me, I grew up in Montana. We used to get that gallon jar of cow's milk, where we would let it sit for a day or two and let the cream rise to the surface THEN we would scoop it off, and then pasturize the rest of it before we fed it to the chickens...As my British friends like to say, "it's just not done."

-- "Making cheese" - although I am sure it is a wonderful pastime if you are Amish or from Wisconsin, it is not "technically" a hobby per se in America, and probably should not be trotted out in your first encounter with people - both American and foreign -- upon arrival. I mean, you can make beer as a hobby; although unless your name is actually "Sam Adams," many (and when I say "many" I mean, Minoy, myself and Liz) will not really buy into your "hobby." What I am trying to say is that although they may drink your "beer," it should be caveated that if you host a party for 67 people and only provide one bottle of Rum, they're going to (in theory), drink your beer and anything else fermented in your residence. Case in point, I do believe you were complaining that they drank your cheese juice. I think they probably thought it was booze. It is always important to keep in mind that we have desperate people here in Sudan; and desperate people drink unGodly things. However, you should also know that these same desperate people will probably not eat your cheese. (Especially after the whole "frothy milk" incident above gets out. I'm just saying, some people are not known for their discretion in these types of situations. It is really difficult to find good help these days.)

-- And finally, you should also know that your name (in Arabic) means something really REALLY UNappropriate. Further, a good rule of thumb, for when you introduce yourself to the locals, and their eyes bulge out and they seem to get that uncomfortable, won't look at you posture - it means that maybe (just maybe) you should google your name and Arabic. In fact, it gives life to the stereotype here. Further, it kinda makes your inappropriately overconfident manner seem crude and almost disgusting. I'm just saying -- google it and/or ask someone. You might also want to call yourself "Pat" from now on.

I hope that my suggestions for navigating living in Sudan have helped you in some small way. Granted, I am inappropriately bitchy for a diplomat living overseas; however, in my case, we prefer to call it "seasoned" in the foreign service.

I would also like to inform you that although I am currently not accepting applications for new friends at this time, I will keep your application on file and will immediately contact you should an opening surface in the future. Should you need anything further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best Regards,
Michel

15 comments:

AmyK said...

Now I really want to know what her name is and what it means. I would think there would be some sort of "culture training" needed for some of these unaware types. But,in any culture, one bottle of Rum is never enough.

Comedy Goddess said...

Her name is Madonna? You're newbie is Madonna??

lakeviewer said...

Well done, Michel. These simple rules should tell them. Especially the one about the beer.

Fragrant Liar said...

FNG, Effing New Girl/Guy, is gonna be so, um surprised when she gets his/her letter. Are you copying All Americans in Sudan?

I'm thinking you got off on the wrong foot. Did he/she not arrive in country with a boatload of Little Debbies?

WHAT??!!

Didn't ANYone in the US Consulate HR indoctrinate him/her in ANYthing? I mean, talk about setting someone up to fail.

I'll bet his/her name is Osco. I heard that was bad in Muslim circles. REALLY bad.

otin said...

Making friends as usual! Are you going to serve some pate'? LOL!

darsden said...

too funny, you are extremely talented in putting people in their places.. YOu can rant it like nobody else I know :-) LMAO

Anonymous said...

tell us how you really feel and don't leave anything out....@###@&*%#@

one bottle of rum come on!!!!! WTF!!!!

♥ Braja said...

You forgot to mention not only the unsanitary possibilities inherent in the milk, but what kind of animal provided it. When I lived in Jaipur it was always camel milk they were trying to pass of. Here it's buffalo milk. There? God only knows. Ask him....maybe a smoting on the milkman is not too much of a stretch?

Beth said...

He needed to have more than a bottle on hand. At my house, we keep lots of booze and lots of choices. In fact, we've started charging our friends a dollar an hour to come over and visit. It has really helped to curtail the long, drawn out visits that result in empty bottles of booze.

blognut said...

I can't believe FNG STILL hasn't figured out the whole name thing!!! Isn't anybody ever going to tell? And can I be there when FNG finds out?!

Also, I think that FNG should totally appreciate the warm welcome from you, right along with all of these nice tips for getting along with everyone. You're really being a good friend here!

tera said...

I think you need to change her name to "Khan"...then you can reenact that Star Trek scene at all kinds of appropriate/inappropriate times.

Like, someone drinks all the coffee then lets the coffee pot sit on the burner until it gets all crusty. When someone else asks who did it you can suddenly yell, "Khan! Khaaaaaan!"

Or when you're having a really bad day and some poor, unsuspecting person asks, "Michel, what's wrong with you today?" you can yell, "Khan! Khaaaaan!"

Seriously.
It would be hilarious.

Mango Girl said...

I wonder how long he will last...

Gaston Studio said...

Okay,I LOVE Tera's idea. Khaaaan!!!

Hit 40 said...

Is the party the same that you mentioned before? Or, is this person some kinda animal house foreign service worker.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

you're such a good coworker. You really should right the manual for new employees.