Posted in Dharma Initiative, ex-pat confidential

how to do it all wrong

Today, we bought a desk. This is a good thing (albeit an impulse purchase) because our air shipment from Calgary is supposed to be delivered on Tuesday, and there's a dearly-missed computer and printer in it. There is nothing in recent memory that I've looked forward to more than the arrival of the air shipment. It's about 6-7 weeks late, which is far too long to be living out of suitcase. I really would like to be reunited with my clothes. And my kids would like their books and toys. And that computer is anticipated by all. 

Moving here, if I'm quite honest, has been an awful experience, at least in terms of actual logistics.

  1. Our relocation advisor neglected to request the moving company that they use in Calgary to get in touch with us to schedule the pack-out, until about two weeks before our scheduled December 29th departure. There was no way to make this happen on time – over the Christmas/New Years break, so the flights were rescheduled for me and the kids, Chris went off to KSA alone, and I was left to deal with the moving company alone. 
  2. The moving company. When we moved to SE Asia, the company that packed and shipped our household goods was the MI Group, and they were fantastic. This company, not so much. A few days prior to pack-out, I sent our assigned moving coordinator an email just to check that they had silica gel packets ready amongst the packing material because our belongings would be in long-term storage for a long time due to relatively new policy by the Dharma Initiative company the Chris works for. The guy first wrote back that he's never heard of moving companies using them (despite my personal experience with two), and "they actually cause damage". But he'd look into it for me, and check on the storage conditions here in KSA, but he never actually did do that. Also, this company didn't give us some paperwork that would become crucial later in the story.
  3. So, Chris landed at the Dammam airport at the end of December, was met by a company representative as expected, and discovered that no actual arrangements for our housing had been made, which is not how the situation was advertised. This was straightened out a day later, but it absolutely shouldn't have happened, and we're thankful that our children didn't have to experience the big hunt for a place to spend the night in the wee hours of the morning right after they would have walked off of a transatlantic flight.
  4. A "welcome package" containing pantry basics, dishes, cutlery, and pots and pans was supposed to be delivered ASAP to new arrivals. I think that it actually took about ten days, so Chris ate a lot of take-out with no proper utensils for a good while. 
  5. Meanwhile, back in Calgary, I had to reduce the amount of stuff that we shipped by about half, so that meant putting a lot of furniture into storage and donating away an insane amount of books, and clothes. I was shocked to realized that I'd reduced my wardrobe by half, but it's the books that I will miss the most. Though, we put all of our bookcases into storage, so I wouldn't have had anywhere to put them here, anyways. But it's not really missing stuff that I'm still frustrated about – it was the sheer amount of work this was. I was solo-parenting, and didn't really spend any time with my kids for a whole month because I had to organize every single thing that we owned into the toss/donate/keep categories, and it was a giant undertaking. I felt awful. I should have been helping my six year old practice her articulation stuff, her literacy stuff, and such. Instead I let her watch My Little Pony on Netflix because I had to pack my car with goods to take to the hazardous waste depot. 
  6. We did arrive in KSA at the beginning of February. About a week past when we thought that our air shipment should have arrived (within fourteen days per company policy), we discover that it and the sea shipment are still hanging out in Calgary, because there were a few forms that we needed to submit that we were not given before departing Calgary. I think that Chris was actually more livid than I was, but I still spent the better part of a day and night filling out the longest one. It honestly took that long. 
  7. More form fun: "Please provide receipts and authenticity certificates for artwork valued over $2500, for insurance purposes." We did this. New memo to us. "We no longer insure artwork." Head desk.

But the air shipment is in the kingdom now, and I assume that the sea shipment is floating along somewhere. New desk arrives in the next day or two, and I am really looking forward to our lives here feeling less temporary 🙂



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