Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's a Mad, Mad World

My school, the Saudi Polytechnic, on a sumptuous 110F degree day.  The first thing the Admiral told me upon arriving was, "Look at our million dollar facility."

Every morning the teachers would get on a bus and ride an hour through the desert to the school... to be greeted by this guy at the gate.  He would board the bus, make sure we had our badges (we don't need no stinking badges) and wave us through.  We nicknamed him:  Fidel.

The school was constantly worrying about safety, but the message was hard to accept by the Saudis.  They would smoke cigarettes around flammable gas, drag race in the parking lot, balance ladders on chairs, and leave paper cups filled with coffee next to open electrical transformers.  I'm surprised nobody exploded.

Oh... and the immigrant workers would rob you blind.  The foreign teachers learned you had to lock everything up, every minute.  If you left a half eaten sandwich or your cell phone or... anything on your desk, it would be gone if you left the room.  The teachers were issued little desk keys and we locked our possessions up constantly or we'd be picked clean.

Yes... that's green grass in the desert.  They had miles of water pipes laid to use a couple of sprinklers.  Outside the campus, the ground was so full of oil and road tar and dust... this kind of extravagance was amazing to see.
Yes, Fidel also brought his doppelganger to work.

When I arrived, half the school was still under construction.

The squatter toilets were funny.  Saudi's didn't understand the western sit-down toilets and  many of them would put their feet up on the bowl and squat over the bowls.  I know this because they didn't bother to lock the doors and I was constantly walking in on them.

Yes, that's an artificial turf futbol field in the surrounded by hundreds of miles of sand.

Watching these Pakistani guys work was painful.  They were paid pennies without incentive.  Every day you'd see them make fifty trips from one building to another carrying one computer keyboard at a time.  When asked, "Why don't you carry two or ten or get a cart and carry them all in one trip?"  They looked like you were stupid for even suggesting.  Best part about their day... constant smoke breaks.

Yep... here's Hartenstein in the classroom.  A day before class started I had no white boards, chairs, tables or a computer... and there were big puddles of air-conditioning waste rotting up the floor.  Million dollar facility...?  Nice!

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