For part 1, please look here.
With the decision made to head out to Saudi Arabia to work as a technical writer for a private hospital, all that was left for me to do was put my affairs in order back at home. I had struggled with when to tell my family, the guys on my soccer team, and all my other friends. I’m not going to lie to you; I had a pretty good life back home. I have a great family, some truly awesome friends, and living in Edmonton isn’t so bad. Sure, the winters are too long and sometimes too cold; but I couldn’t really control that and the summers more than made up for it. But, the decision had been made and it was time to move on.
My family handled it better than I expected. We’re pretty tight knit, usually going to mom and dad’s every Sunday for dinner as a family. There were, of course, mixed emotions about my impending move. On the one hand, they did see that it was a great opportunity and an opportunity to see new parts of the world. On the other hand, I was leaving the flock, so to speak, and regardless of how “tight” Saudi Arabia is with the US and the UK, it was still the Middle East. And seeing as though my expected start date for my new job was April 4, I only had a couple of months left in the city that had always been home.
Little did I know when I took the job, haggling over the contract and waking up a full three hours before my phone interview would be the least annoying part. Before I could move to Saudi Arabia, I needed a complete medical – blood tests, stool samples, urine, x-rays, and a security check. I wasn’t too worried about any of this stuff though. I’ve kept myself in pretty good shape and had always been smart as a single boy (but I guess in this day and age you never know). I went to my local medical clinic to get the physical and blood work done. As I expected, I was in pretty good health. They had to take 5 samples of blood to test for numerous things, including HIV and Hepatitis. I hate needles. I would love to donate blood myself but I’m too much of a wimp to do such things because needles absolutely terrify me. Actually, hospitals terrify me. How I ended up working in one is completely beyond me.
With the cotton gauze on my arm I proceeded next door to piss in a cup for them to do tests on that as well. I have peed in a cup many times, once at college years ago when we qualified for nationals in soccer and every player had to leave a sample (I guess they were checking for performance enhancing drugs). While I was in the washroom jettisoning the first stream (I hate having to break it off mid-stream and then pee in the little cup) I damn near was perfect with my aim on the cup. I only had to wash my hands two times before I left that little cubicle. As I was leaving I noticed the instruction chart on the door for men who needed help peeing into a cup. My first thought was, “people need help with this?” My second thought was, “Jesus Christ, I hope women don’t see!” Ladies and gentlemen, the drawing was not done to scale. They had an average sized man sporting a horse’s knob. Some unsuspecting woman might be expecting that the first time her lover drops his pants.
I had to wait about a week to get the results and once I had them I had to forward them to the company in the UK who was handling my expediting process. That was the easy part. The Saudi Embassy also required letters from my former employers, which wasn’t too difficult as I did leave both places on good terms. I took the template they gave me and spoke to both my former bosses who said they could have them done and ready for pick up in a couple of days. I now had a few days to just relax and not worry about anything. And believe you me, I did just that.
The niece of a friend was moving into her own place and had agreed to buy my furniture and kitchen stuff from me so I didn’t have to worry about storing anything or having a yard sale. Most of my stuff was junk anyway so it didn’t matter much. My lease was set to end in March so I’d have a couple of days back with mom and dad and that would be that. Not too bad. It wasn’t cool for a 35 year old to be living with mom and dad but it wouldn’t be for long…
I get the letters from my former employers, grab my university degree, my passport, my birth certificate, and my transcripts and head to have them notarized (at my expense). He makes three copies of the originals, stamps them as notarized copies and I’m on way with the last of the things I need to do on my end. Life is good. I’m organized, concise, and raring to go. I tell myself the two years I’ve signed for will fly by and no one will have time to miss me.
Two weeks later (after telling a girl I had just met that I was leaving so going on any more dates would be silly – sometimes I’m just so chivalrous) I hit a snag. I receive word from the recruitment company in the UK that the letters from my employers aren’t acceptable because they weren’t on specific company letter head.
When I explained I took the templates from the Embassy themselves, she said the Saudi Embassy in Canada doesn’t use those templates (even though they have them on their website). I would have to go back and get the letters done again on company letter head. I try and get a hold of both employers; one agrees to do another letter on company letter head, the other, it turns out is on vacation for another two weeks. My date of arrival has just been delayed…