I’ll Go to Baghdad! A Wannabe Expat’s Struggle

Poor Jim has to uproot his entire life including his wife and young kids and move to Shanghai. Jim tries his best to stay in the MotorCity but the company brass puts enough pressure on him that he finally accepts the assignment. The exorbitant cost of sending reluctant Jim overseas including the 10k for shipping his dog, executive housing, a driver, a hardship stipend, the cost of private schooling for the kids, could easily be avoided if the promotion is given to someone who actually wants to go. That’s seldom the case as HR feels that someone who is more seasoned would be a better fit to handle the firm’s needs overseas.

The result is a cultural misfit on both sides of the sea. Jim absolutely hates living abroad, misses the life he has always known and can’t assimilate to the local culture. On the other end of the spectrum, the willing expat is stuck in a cubicle listening to Jim’s colleagues brag about how their kid hit a home run in little league over the weekend.

The future for both Jim and our wannabe expat is grim. Jim will develop a severe drinking problem since he can’t come to terms with his new home. The wannabe will spend his time at work unproductive as he searches for a new job. Of course the company cannot see the error of its ways. And even if it does lose big as a result of this strategy, father government will swoop in to bail them and the idiots they employ in HR out. Next time around Jack will be sent to Bangkok while wannabe can only hope for Baghdad.