At Orientation Monday, they told us there were going to be groups at six, eight, ten and noon and that we’d receive a message in our rooms telling us which group we were in. They’re really bad about messages. Laura and I had stopped at the desk on the way in and asked so I knew I was in the six o’clock group, which meant I didn’t sleep at all. It didn’t help that the desk called me at midnight to tell me I was in the six o’clock group (some people got called at one!) I drifted in and out until I heard the four o’clock call to prayer. Then I laid awake until five when I decided falling asleep would be worse than just getting up.
The buses were supposed to leave at 6:15 so naturally we weren’t even on them until 6:30 and we didn’t get out of the parking lot until 6:40. I ended up sitting next to a girl named Kara. I say girl intentionally. I started chatting with her and she said that she spent all her time in her room and she just wanted to go home. Honestly, it was like the second thing out of her mouth and she got tears in her eyes. I haven’t actually encountered anyone who’s said that yet, but maybe it’s because they’re hiding in their rooms. I blurted out, “Oh honey, that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do! Everybody’s really friendly. Just hang around at the pool or in the lobby and you’re going to bump into someone to hang around with.” Then I told her how I found a dinner companion last night by wandering around the lobby looking pathetic. I also promised to make dinner plans with her and then promptly lost track of her.
When we arrived at the clinic, the first thing the staff did was panic. They weren’t staffed to handle such a large group. They weren’t warned that 168 people split into 4 groups were going to be arriving at 2 hour intervals? Wait until next week when the incoming group numbers around 300.
The check was surprisingly easy. The most painful part was processing. Once we were entered into the computer and handed our paperwork to the traffic directing nurse we had to go wait until she called us. When she called our names we had to wade through the mass of people in the waiting room. The room was only large enough to easily hold 20 people and we had 40-50 crammed in there. First we did blood pressure, then we were shuffled to another room to be “examined,” then chest x-ray and finally a blood draw. The examination consisted of a little Indian doctor sitting across the desk asking questions. He never laid a hand on me, but he did compliment me on my low blood pressure. The woman who did the blood draw was a total pro! I told her, as I always do, that I have terrible veins and without hesitation she hit a vein on the first try. Then on the way home I was talking to a couple of people and watching the world go by when we passed the Cleveland Clinic. I nearly plastered myself to the window! One of the people I was talking to said, “let me guess, you’re from Ohio.”
That afternoon, I was roaming the lobby when I bumped into Deborah who had steam coming out of her ears. The region assignments had been emailed and she and her husband had been assigned to Abu Dhabi when they specifically asked for Al Ain. They had a school picked out for their daughters and everything. I sympathized politely and then raced up to my room to find out where I was posted. I wanted Abu Dhabi because housing was furnished. I got Al Ain (pronounced like Alan.) In Al Ain, I will have to find an apartment (with help from ADEC) and furnish it (with funds provided by ADEC.) Al Ain is way cheaper than Abu Dhabi, quieter and the weather is supposed to be better. Scanning the list I found out Kara and Lorna were both assigned to Al Ain. From the desk I got their room numbers and went to share the happy news and see if they wanted to have dinner. On the way I bumped into Christine. She hadn’t seen the list so I invited her up to my room to look at it and she said she was going out for dinner with a group if I wanted to meet them in the lobby in a few minutes.
I darted up to Kara’s room and asked if she had seen the list. She said it didn’t matter because she’d decided to go home and started to cry. I hugged her, told her it was okay and invited her to dinner anyway hoping that being with a few people who were positive and excited might change her mind. Then I went to tell Lorna whose room is directly above mine and who jumped up and down, squealing and hugging me which was more in line with the reaction I was hoping for. But she couldn’t make dinner because she was in the middle of something.
Heading back down to the lobby, I met up with Christine’s group and Kara arrived. They were all going somewhere more expensive so Kara and I split off. On the way out the door we bumped into Jennifer who was more than happy to join us (see there how I modeled for Kara how to find buddies? Aren’t I slick?) Jennifer taught for six months in Seoul so we had something in common. Over dinner it seemed like Kara was changing her mind back to staying, but by the time we returned to the hotel she seemed to be leaning toward leaving again. And then when I got to my room there was a message from ADEC about a meeting tomorrow morning and she called me to make sure I got it. Who knows, maybe she’ll stay. I don’t want her to feel bad about leaving if that’s what she decides to do, but I also don’t want her to make a rash decision based on the idea that she’s going to be all alone when she doesn’t have to be. I sort of wish we could have gone to dinner with the other group because there were 2 other women assigned to Al Ain so she could have had even more friendly faces in her mind. Lorna would have been good for her too because Lorna is painfully shy too. But there’s still the meeting tomorrow. I’ll keep working at her.