Hired, Fired, Fled

Read Charlie Raymond's calamitous, globe-spanning memoir!

Top 9 things expats say on returning home

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(This file is a Work of Kwj2772 [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 2.0 kr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/kr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons)

1.    “No, I’m not a billionaire!”

This is particularly common for the returning Gulf expat, and even more so for those who’ve been working to ensure the Gulf’s ‘black gold’ is constantly pumped from beneath the sand. But regardless of vast salaries, expats have a canny way of spending vast amounts on cars, clothes, drinks, and rent, scaled up to match their income. So is your returning oil exec friend a billionaire? Not unless he’s also a Sheikh.

2.    “Is there table service?”

Yes, your triumphant expat friend will be used to having drinks served at the table, having returned from friendly American waitresses smiling sweetly for their 20% tip, or anywhere else on Earth, because every other country seems to have accepted that table service boosts a bar’s business. It’s standard practice around the world, leading the Brit returnee to wail…

3.    “Where’s the damn waiter? Oh, right, I need to…”

… go to the bar! This is such a big one, it deserves a double-billing… Yep, it’s so nice being served at your table that it takes some getting used to the British way: battling drunks at the bar, trying to get served before a more practiced combatant distracts the bartender from your 25-minute wait, leaving you to wonder whether a sex changes might improve your odds of being served... It won’t.

4.    “Petrol or Diesel? I dunno, the pump guy does it.”

Oh, yes, that little luxury of having someone else fill your car for you. It may seem that life in many parts of the world is a pampered, lazy, decadent existence… which is because it is. That’s how the world spins. And if that means staying in air-conditioned comfort while someone else fills your tank, then so be it. Just be sure to tip a decent amount. And learn what powers your car when you rotate back home.

5.    “It’s HOW MUCH?”

Usually said for the first few weeks after returning home, when told the cost of insurance, tax, car parts, handymen, food, delivery food, gourmet food, snack food, and ‘must-try’ craft beers… so you do less, eat less, but hold tight to the idea that returning home was a great idea, because you get to see your family — who just cost three hundred quid to take out for a one-course dinner at a two-star pub.

6.    “No, that’s fine, it’s short notice.”

No longer are all your friends in one place, meeting every night, doing the same thing all the time. Back home people have families and they drink at home… I know, ewwww. But it doesn’t take long to work out how to use a calendar and book in meet-ups three to five months in advance. You get used to saying, “Hi, yeah, I’ve been back a while… Yep, got a job…. Yep, thinking of leaving again… yep, that’s no joke…”

7.    “Wow, they finally finished it!”

And there are the amazing things about getting home… like seeing that construction project the government debated for two centuries finally being finished off… OMG, I can get to Paris in two hours… OMG, a British mall I actually want to visit (and doesn’t stink of pee)… OMG, a slick terminal with a wine bar… OMG, I need to stop saying OMG…

8.    “When I left they were half that price.”

Cigarettes. The price soars. And that’s no bad thing.

9.    “Really, this isn’t illegal?”

That can be applied to so many things, depending on where you’ve returned from, but my favourite one has to be drinking in the streets outside British pubs, spilling into the road, as even a tiny smattering of sunshine lures us outdoors to swill and swig in the bright rays of a fresh day