My expat work experience – the good, the bad and the ugly

I’ve lived and worked in many countries, both paid and voluntary, for some amazingly inspirational people as well as some downright awful tyrants.

My boss in Angola was incredibly down to earth, his clients less so. My tasks included making him look ‘damn important’ in front of poncy Luanda bankers. While he sat drinking his maté, I’d run around pretending to look busy with empty folders. ‘Sorry Sir, you’ll have to wait, Mr D is in a meeting. Please take a seat’. 

Other tasks included taking carrier bags of cash to the bank (yes sir, yes sir, three bags full), personal shopping (assisted by two burly guys as apparently my blonde hair and suit screamed ‘please mug me’) and showing the HR team how to switch the computer on ‘you just press here’.

Now let’s talk about the ugly. I could go on forever about the brats in the European Parliament. These jackasses make the boss from The Devil Wears Prada look like Mother Theresa.

On a seminar discussing human rights in poor countries one politician threw away the agenda and turned to the dining menu, ‘But there is nothing, nothing I can eat here! I am soooo bored of smoked salmon’. And enroute to another seminar ‘No I don’t care if there isn’t a lift, I do not do stairs!’ *waves arms around and stamps feet*

In fact the only reason why the European Parliament doesn’t have a nursery is because it would be full of politicians (there are many, many places to get a drink however).

And while we’re talking about brats, how about the journalists in my time as a public relations gal back in London? Thankfully I was lucky (for any future PRs out there, spa journos and adventure travel writers are the nicest) but my colleagues were less so.

Journalists whose dogs crapped on hotel floors, bloggers who stole all the cosmetics not just from the bathroom but also from the maid’s trolley (along with the bathrobe and crockery), travel writers who got so drunk they punched the resort owner, writers who emptied the mini bar at our expense, and even a food critic who took her curtains along to be laundered by the hotel.

And they wonder why PRs drink so much champagne?

Some days I miss not working in an office. And then other days less so…


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