Friday, February 20, 2015

Get Rich or Die Teaching: A Cautionary Tale

Everybody loves a good "Get Rich Quick" scheme, and lately teaching in the Kingdom is becoming one of those schemes. 

I used to get e-mails all the time like "I'm considering giving up my high-paying job as a lawyer to teach English in Brazil so I can get laid more. Can you give me some advice?"

Now I get e-mails like, "I'm giving up my hard-partying life of getting laid constantly as a teacher in Brazil so I can go teach in Saudi for a few years and save some money. Any advice?"

Anyway, another cautionary tale:

One of the guys who started at the same time as me, at my last hellish-but-highly-paid position in the Kingdom, was remarkable in how young he was. He was 27, I think, the only guy on the staff in his 20s. (He'd been teaching at the high school level in America since he finished college, I believe, so he had the credentials to get the job.) 

He was amazingly clean-cut and wide-eyed, and I'm wondering now if he was a Mormon. I think he said he was from California, although not from one of the big cities. 

Anyway, he was married, and had a young baby, new born. They'd been married since they were nineteen and had been high school sweethearts. 

This was not the typical English teacher demographic, to say the least. Some of the guys were married, but almost always to foreign women, and they had almost all been teaching abroad for years.

He had a grand plan, he said. He would work the job for five years, and save enough money to by two houses in America, one to live in and one to rent out. Then they'd return to America by the time the kid was ready to start school. 

"That's a plan, all right," I agreed. 

Now remember, in addition to the heat and the general difficulties of life in a restrictive Islamic society, and the job being pretty unbearable, the place we were posted was no fucking garden spot. It was a small city at the edge of the Gas Oil Seperation Plant, and the air smelled like rotten eggs and asphalt most of the time. 

These bushes survived due to underground hoses

Apparently this was a halal slaughterhouse

And what's more, they were living not in one of the nice compounds, but one of the crappy trailer park compounds. 

They lasted about six months. The wife returned to America within three months, taking the child and threatening divorce. He was contracted for a year but he ended up just not coming back from his first vacation given the various difficulties and paperwork involved in ending the contract early. 

"The plan is what you have until everything gets all fucked up." -- my wilderness survival instructor

Read about more Middle Eastern adventures in REQUIEM FOR A VAGABOND


Anonymous said...

Ah, the wit and wisdom of 90s industrial metal bands. "Got a green light, but you're going nowhere."

Anonymous said...

I see an awful lot of this. The school I work for has a CELTA training programme where they let the pre-celta folks observe us...

A lot of them have similar plans do Saudi for a couple of years then come back buy a house or many houses.

I often see them back after 4-6 months saying the same things you've mentioned here.

Dion said...

Hey, I get those same kind of e-mails! Except it's from teenage boys wanting to become strippers to get laid or get rich. I guess sex and money are just universal factors.

Some guy in Spain said...

Yeah so I e-mailed you on such a scheme. The caution is taken with the good grace intended but I figure that I'm right now in Spain watching the world pass me by for 1000 euro a month and not able to do a whole lot about or with it. Honestly, I can't see life getting much worse than this and even life in a super-conservative Islamic country can be worthwhile if I'm getting two months vacation out of it at least.

englishteacherx said...

hey, for me, it was absolutely the right thing to do and I don't regret going to the Middle East at all, and my first job I actually rather liked.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that she lasted six months, which would have been a long time for them, specifically, in those conditions.