My First Tribal Exchange

Last week a lovely Iraqi acquaintance stopped by my desk to ask me a Protocol question. I saw this interesting sparkly bracelet on her hand and I asked, “Is that a watch?” Her eyes opened wide in excitement. As she reached her wrist towards me she stated with great pleasure, “Yes, it is a watch. Do you like it?” I swallowed as I replied, “It is so unique!” At that, before I could blink, she took the watch off her wrist and thrust it towards me as she said, “Here.”

As sheer panic spread across my face, I remembered training class… and ‘ol Jerry and how he told us that if you compliment an Iraqi they will give you whatever you like. Because of the tribal system they have no problem with generosity because it is expected to be returned for another favor.

“Here, it’s yours.” She said.

“Oh, no…that is so generous, thank you! But no, I cannot take your watch off of your wrist…uh…ah…uh…how will you know the time?”

“It’s a gift!” and with that, I blushed as I accepted my new watch.

I racked my brain thinking, Beth! You knew about this. AND IN CLASS, WATCHES WERE THE EXAMPLE GIVEN!! Many Ambassadors and visiting diplomats from DC would go to dinner and they would be complimented on their Rolex and would immediately be prompted to give their watch away. After a few times, they learned not to wear jewelry or only wear cheap watches.

However, the Embassy is so Americanized, I don’t withhold compliments here because most local hires are Jordanian or Lebanese.

Well, I as I contemplated this and thought what will I do, I remembered that I’d put my lovely, two-toned Anne Klein watch in my desk drawer… [the day I went to the bazaar and bought a $10 Rolex.--It would’ve fooled you!-- I was excited to wear it, so I dropped my watch, in my drawer and immediately dawned my new *bling*bling. The next day when I came into work an hour late, I realized it doesn’t keep time, so now it just sits in my room as a $10 fashion accessory] …I knew what I had to do.

I walked toward her and said, “Here” as I extended my hand holding the perfect two-toned watch I searched years to wear, “It is a gift.”

I saw the same look of panic in her eyes that I had felt moments before.

She said, “No!”

I said, “Yes, you must take it. You gave me your watch, please take mine. Whenever I look to see the time I will think of you fondly.”

She took my watch and said, “I will do the same, thank you.”

My first tribal exchange.

As she squeezed the skin on her wrist in order to close her new Anne Klein watch, I could not help but catch the light flicker of glitter reflecting off my computer screen. I looked at my new sparkly watch and glanced at the time on the bottom of my computer screen. It keeps time!

Not an hour later, one of my assistants came to my desk smiling and said, “Bet, what phone you use most?” Confused, I said, my Iraqna because it has better reception. (You know I am always dropping calls when I call home on 914-) He said, “May I see your phone?” Uncertain of what to expect, I handed over my phone. He turned his back to me, and when he turned around I had a new cell phone charm attached to my phone.

A stuffed puppy.

I was speechless.

What a surprise. Astounded, a hysterical smile beamed across my face as I thanked him.

I could just imagine the Ambassador looking at me on my phone with a stuffed puppy dangling from my chin.

So, here you go. I could not make this up.

I truly enjoy this puppy. It makes me laugh out loud as I walk through the halls and he hangs out of my suit pocket, smiling at co-workers in the hall. Not too many people have noticed, or at least mentioned the dog. Two agents referenced my dog bite when they saw it, which gave me an even bigger laugh.


I woke up this morning without the desert sun blazing through my blinds into my eyes. I thought it was odd, but assumed it was because I was up 15 minutes earlier than usual. ha! It was actually because a sandstorm was blowing through. By mid-afternoon the Earth was orange. It was like walking on Mars. People kept murmuring, welcome to hell.

However, even though the world was orange today, it was not to hot--though comparatively, I choose hot. When it's dusty, if you smile too long, your teeth are covered in dust! blah!

Today was another long day. I think I've aged about 3 years in the last two days. I will update you more on the details towards the end of the week.

Oh! A funny story. I tried to call my mom tonight and dialed her work number and the voice that answered said, "Boonsboro High School" I started laughing and couldn't hang up, I said, "Mrs. Moore?" and she said "yes...?" and I told her who it was and she laughed and said, "don't you know your mom doesn't work here anymore?" haha! My fingers just remembered dialing the number.

It was a good time to tell her that I work with another BHS graduate. Small world, eh? Two Ambassador's here that luv H-town Suns games and Krumpies do-nuts and a fellow BHS alum.


The Ambassador hosted a farewell dinner for the CG last night. It was the biggest Vanna White moment of my life when dinner ended and I walked the gift across the dinning room to present to him. I was in sheer awe at how I got where I am. It has been a privilege to work in Iraq under Petraeus's command, it is safer here now. He's a good humored man, and gave his final words in a football analogy. The war has been a hail mary, but the surge was the down field catch that was the play of them game. Now we're 3rd and goal, but every time we look up it seems the goal post has moved farther back.

The busiest week of my life

When you're the boss, no one tells you what to do. It was a rude awakening this week when I internalized all the stress that comes with that. Though the boss is the decision maker, no one helps in the decision making. BIG SHOES! As I'm learning to walk in them, I keep my chin up but my desk is covered in post its from the snow storm last week of "Can you do--" requests which I would hurriedly scribble down on an assorted pack of post-it paper. It really gives my desk color!

You shred everything here, because you never know who is going through the trash. In my two months here never has the paper shredder jammed, but I jammed it. With post its. It looks like a party of green, purple, pink and manila confetti spit up all over the floor by the shredder. Remnants will remain until we move out of this Palace, just like Christmas icicles, you can never seem to get them all picked up, inevitably in August you can find a stray the vacuum cleaner has missed 100 times.

Speaking of moving out--I am the move coordinator for our transition from Saddam's Presidential Palace to our New Embassy Compound NEC. I already live at the NEC and it is a fortified area that will include, housing, work space, the DFAC, a liquor store, the Green Bean, and the gym. It quite resembles a prison. There are high walls with a chicken wire border, and security that takes 10 minutes-minimum-to enter the compound. So, very secure!

Anyway, I saw my new office, which is quite plush. Two windows! Despite the hassle of moving, I love organizing and I also love my new office and so I'm looking forward to the move. It will be quite an experience to compare working in a Palace to working in an office building. And I'm not sure how the cabin fever will be since it's about 45 steps from my apartment to work. The world may get very small very quickly!

Also, I'm back on the ball.

All Hail the Chief

Welp, big news this week. After being A/Chief of Protocol for the last month, I found out this week my boss is not returning and I've been promoted to Chief of Protocol for the duration of my contract. Will I stay in this dust bowl past January? I don't know. I've decided to stop making plans for myself because as the Proverb says Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. (19:21)

This past week has proven to me that he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 colors and emphasis mine : )

See the chart below for my new orders.

I have also decided not to get my panties in a bunch at 0900 when inevitably there is a calamitous crisis, by staying cool, calm and collected, I've realized that by 1500 the crises was averted and I've received a lot more respect for staying calm and keeping a smile. Amazing Grace!

In the world of weather, it rained today. It was thundering so loud yesterday and amidst the smell of dust, the carried the scent of rain. No dice though. What did roll through was a dust storm (I heard) I was at my desk all day, and though I have a fabulous purple office, no windows. I heard it was disgusting though.

Today, when I heard the thunder roll, I got up from my desk and went outside! It was barely sprinkling on the West side, so I ran across the Rotunda and it was raining lightly on the East side.

My afternoon run was very dusty. I had sand on my teeth and lips and in my eyes and hair...and got caught in a few raindrops!! (like 4, but still, you have to celebrate the elements here)

Me at a recent reception, putting on the finishing touches.