Expat stereotypes. We all know them. We all love them. We all love to hate them. I previously wrote about three stereotypical expats who are unlikely to survive expat life. And before you get all excited up on that high horse of yours, just take a little chill pill and know that this is entirely tongue in cheek. After all, there is bound to be a little bit of the ‘doomed expat spouses‘, Hilda, Pauline and Nellie, in all of us. Equally, many of us have had our Charity, Emma and Betty moments. We all need to take ourselves with a pinch of the proverbial. So sprinkle that salt and read on about three expats you are almost certain to meet on a posting and might want to avoid.
Charity by name, charitable by nature. She is the well meaning expat who goes everywhere with a bleeding heart dripping from her sleeve. Armed with her trusty book of raffle tickets, she goes into battle determined to save all the orphans, all the homeless and all the desperate and disadvantaged of the entire planet single handedly.
Charity means well, her bleeding heart is made of solid gold. She works tirelessly for all the causes. Fatigue is something that she never experiences, but occasionally, just occasionally those around her do. Sometimes, we run when we see her coming with her earnest eyes, dripping those trembling gold tears from that bleeding heart of hers.
We love and respect Charity, but sometimes we just want to have a margarita and dance like nobody’s watching without having to buy a raffle ticket first.
“Hi Charity, yes, I’ll take 25 tickets please, thank you very much.” Cheers to Charity.
Emma had a high flying career. She was a medical, legal, environmental (insert impressive title) expert and now, in her new expat location, she is not allowed to work. Undaunted, she sets up shop making cushions or cakes, or cushions AND cakes, at a prolific rate and treats her new cottage industry in the same ambitious way she did her former career.
Unfortunately, Emma is nowhere near as talented at needlework or baking as she was at whatever very important job she used to do, yet she continues to shove her over-baked cakes and over stuffed cushions upon the entire expat community for the duration of her stay. Yikes.
Emma is a bit scary. For her, every encounter is a commercial opportunity and each conversation a business meeting. We admire Emma, but we also desperately want to avoid her stall an the annual glut of craft fairs lest we end up feeling obliged to buy another crummy cookie or crap cushion.
Betty was head cheerleader and prom queen, she was a stunner, but then one day her looks started to zombify under the African/Asian/Australian sun and she took drastic over-corrective action.
Trim, toned and bursting with botox, Betty could be 30 or 55, no-one’s quite sure. Betty has so many plastic upgrades that Charity seriously wonders whether Betty could be recycled into a plastic armchair for a children’s home and inches anxiously closer, raffle tickets clutched tightly to her chest.
Meanwhile entrepreneurial Emma is busy calculating how much she could sell the plastic armchair for and how many cushions she could flog along with it for maximum profit. She distracts Charity with a bag of jumble and neatly sidles up to Betty with a glint in her eye and a tape measure in hand.
You will generally find Betty at the gym, or outside the gym chugging enthusiastically on a kale smoothie and if she’s not at the gym, she’ll be loitering somewhere looking pert in her activewear or having a blow dry and mani-pedi.
Basically Betty makes the rest of us feel a bit ‘Bag Lady’. But beware, that fake facade may hide a vulnerable soul. Don’t write her off just yet. Betty may be vacuous and shallow, but she needs you more than you think, even if it’s just to make her look better, younger or thinner.
Who should I add to the list? I can think of a few more and I’m sure you can too. Do you want more, let me know and I’ll get cracking?