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#168 Joking About the Possibility of Imminent War

September 5, 2012

Submitted by Nyagwa who blogs at Landlocked and Proud

Expat Aid Workers love to demonstrate field cred. Posing with guns, airily talking about getting horrible diseases or the twenty-dozen times they’ve had malaria, discussing the time they ate sheep’s eyeballs or drank cobra blood, all serve to demonstrate just how hardcore and, like, totally down with the locals the EAW is.

The ultimate sign of the EAW hardcoreness, the one which truly separates the adults in the room from the children, is ability to laugh in the face of danger. Of course this takes all sorts of permutations in complex humanitarian settings (like team houses), but the real money is when political strife occurs and it becomes clear to everyone that there is, in fact, the very real possibility that a war will happen. Even though pretty much every NGO

“It’s all good. Seriously. I know these guys…”

and UN agency on the planet will immediately evacuate every EAW on its payroll in the event of even moderate amounts of danger, it still remains the elephant in the room: Is that Antonov you can hear above the sound of children shouting and waving at you from this government, or about to drop bombs? Should we be concerned that there is a new checkpoint on our street? Is that truck full of soldiers in full combat gear a sign of things to come?

For the truly hardcore EAW, there is only one way to react to this.


And drink and smoke even more than usual.

A truly hardcore EAW , whilst watching Al Jazeera in the expat café would no doubt laugh and say something like, “God I’m hungover. I should probably drink less. But we might all be killed tomorrow so I may as well abuse my liver while I can.” They might joke about signing up for the local army and, “going all Rambo in the bush”.  Their Facebook status will likely read something like, “Possibility of war. Meh. Promises, promises” and they will reply to the flurry of emails from concerned relatives and friends assuring them that “everything is fine. Totally fine. Seriously. Don’t worry”, always of course with a hinted at subtext that the relatives and friends are being wusses for worrying in the first place.

Nothing can or should stop the EAW from their important, life-saving work (except if their organization decides to evacuate, in which case they’ll enjoy the free holiday in the nearest urban hub – Dubai, perhaps, or Nairobi – and drink cocktails by the pool whilst their local colleagues who weren’t evacuated … er… have a much harder time of things). EAW dedication to the job knows no bounds. They are willing to risk their lives for the poor and needy of the world.

And what better way to relax after a hard week saving the world than to throw a party at the expat bar? Given the political tension, there’s only one name suitable for such an event:

“We’re getting bombed!”

Helpful photos of an arrow pointing to a bottle of beer saying ‘this type of bombed’ and another pointing to a photo of a bombed city ‘not this type of bombed’ on the event’s Facebook page will be sure to raise a few laughs from anyone who hasn’t actually ever experienced a real war zone, and probably a torrent of righteous indignation from those who have. But seriously,  just ignore the haters. The true EAW understands real irony in all of its blithe ignorance, and will laugh about it over vast quantities of beer on Saturday night (at least until curfew).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alice permalink
    September 7, 2012 10:49 am

    Amazing! For anyone who has lived in Beirut, this should be a little uncomfortably close to home.


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