#134 Driving a Beater
Submitted by Kolberg
There’s only one thing that real Expat Aid Workers like more than a cushy, air-conditioned Land Cruiser washed by their security guard every morning – and that’s an old, beat up sedan, probably a Toyota Corolla, bought at a second-hand dealer, or off of a local guy, who, despite the $4,000 price tag, probably got a 100% markup anyway.
Much like going native, or participating in symbolic local traditions, driving an old car proves that you’re just so much more in touch with the community of the country you’re patronizing. To top it off, it provides a huge amount of field cred, showing that there’s no need for you to drive an extravagant vehicle just because you’re paid around 500 times the average local salary.
In countries where security is an issue, driving a beater is an extra plus on the field cred account.
Some NGO’s, especially the large international ones, will require you to drive armored cars, or at least ones that meet certain standards of size, capability etc. (and this will 99% of the time be a Land Cruiser). EAW’s who defy these requirements are badass. Nuff said.
There’s a different category of EAW likely to drive an old crappy car than the one described above. And that’s the guy who doesn’t have the pay grade/seniority to have a chauffeur-driven Land Cruiser at his disposal at all times, and thus is responsible for his own transportation. He will drive his 1983 pale green Corolla with pride, frowning at all the gas-guzzling 4×4’s and their owners, because who needs a large SUV to get from office to the expat coffee shop, really??
However, more often than not, his point of view will pivot the day he gets an offer for that comfy desk job that comes with perks such as a nice McMansion and – yes, a chauffeured Land Cruiser with an A/C cold enough to make a polar bear sneeze.
Until then – drive on (if your car isn’t in the shop, that is).