Friday, November 30, 2007


The Gnomads' Landrover Discovery is serving pretty well in this dust-bowl region of the Magic Kingdom. The steering got a bit heavy recently, a symptom that appeared at the same time as a small puddle of hydraulic fluid appeared in the Gnomad's habitual parking spot. "Ah! that would be a leak in the power steering then" quoth the Gnomad to himself. Never mind, a quick trip to Al Cheabo Garage Services will soon put that to rights, but the brakes were a bit slack too so could they look at that too please? Power steering fixed no problem. Braking a little better but not by much. Hmmm. A few days later the brake fluid warning light comes on. Back to Al Cheabo. Two days later the Gnomad cell phone rings "your car is ready Mr Gnomad" came the south Indian voice. "thankyou I'll come and collect it, what did you need to do?" "reblace the master cylinder sir, no broblem". The brakes were indeed rather better. For about a week. the Gnomad checks under the bonnet. Either they did nothing other than top up the brake fluid or Al Cheabo Garage managed to find a second hand master cylinder exactly the same as the one there previously, with the same stains and dirt on it and managed to change said master cylinder without disturbing any of the dirt on or around the master cylinder. They're so careful these guys at Al Cheabo. Gnomad is now a customer of "not-so-cheab-but-do-actually-do-the-work-garage-services"
Much better.


The Gnomad sits here contemplating what the future holds for the Gnomad and Gnomadette. What has caused this meditative state he hears you ask? Middle-aged Angst, perhaps? or some sort of life changing event? World events in which a teacher who allowed her class to call a teddy bear "muhamed" is being jailed and deported from Sudan (a predominantly Muslim state) with mobs in the street calling for her execution? Well actually nothing so dramatic at all.

The time has come to decide whether The Gnomad should renew his contract with his current employer. Now there are many pluses to being in the job that the Gnomad currently has. the Gnomad has his my own department, admittedly only of one, but still thats quite a lot of freedom. The children Gnomad teaches are on the whole pretty nice, a far cry from the hooligans in the UK. The facilities aren't up to much but they are improving, the salary is reasonably good and the medical insurance is very good, so "what's the problem" Gnomad hears you ask?

Well the problem is the management of the over-arching organisation of which the Gnomad's school is a part. The callous negligence and downright duplicity is getting a bit too much to bear. Earlier in the year many of the gnomad's colleagues were made to move house. No option, no discussion, not even any prior warning. the Gnomad and Gnomadette have been forced to move out of a very pleasant villa into an apartment with only half the useful space of the home they had been used to. No compensation for this drop in living standards was evident. Given that the quality of the housing was a major selling point in the deal at interview and that the Gnomad did in fact take a small but significant cut in salary to get the better accommodation this does rankle rather. the Gnomad is now actually rather worse off than he was two years ago before he made this move.

There have been other instances since then of the management interfering in the day to day running of the compound where the Gnomads are obliged to live (no other residential location will be countenanced by the organisation). None so serious as the forced house move, but these are all decisions being made by people who don't live on the compound, who have much better accommodation than the Gnomads do, and are in fact not qualified or (apparently) competent to make such decisions. They have learned nothing from the housing debacle.

Added to that, these managers are all Americans. This may be coincidence but in the forced house move, with only one exception, all of the staff who were downgraded are in the British division of the organisation, and all of the staff provided with the better quality accommodation were recruited for the American division with, again, only one exception. That exception is a family who work for the British division but are in fact Americans. This may be coincidence but there is a strong feeling amongst the British division employees that the Americans always get the best of everything in this organisation and that the Brits always get the short end of the deal.

As you might have guessed this is all rather getting on the Gnomads's wick.

Added to this are the paranoid security arrangements the Gnomad's have to deal with on a daily basis. If the Gnomads wish to visit friends on another Western compound or, perhaps, visit the social facilities there we have to arrange this well in advance with someone who is resident on the compound, have them put the Gnomads names on a list in the guardhouse, with passport or id numbers, and the Gnomads then have to present this ID to get onto the compound. Any error or discrepancy means admission is denied. (Clearly errors are a rare occurence when you have a nine digit number being read over the phone by an Englishman to a Canadian who is then relaying this to a Lebanese security guard who is dictating it to his Sudanese colleague, no no chance os errors at all)

There is almost no opportunity for any kind of spontaneity at all. Living inside a compound guarded 24 hours by heavily armed soldiers from the National Guard (we have a machine gun emplacement right outside the gatehouse with a crew served weapon installed) and by private armed security, is also a bit oppressive. Having been in the military the Gnomad didn't think this would be a problem, but it is invasive.

time to look for fresher fields, the Gnomads will now be looking to go elsewhere, should the opportunity arise.