Cars and Africa and “It depends.”

How do you make decisions about the future when you don’t know where you’re going?

I’m talking about cars, but also everything else we own.

We’ve got a VW Tiguan and a Kia Sedona. Both have low mileage, are in great shape, etc. Throughout the recruitment process for this gig, we were told to expect that our first assignment would likely be a hardship post, and likely in Africa.

…with the ever-present caveat of “it depends.”

“It depends.”

The answer to every question you ever ask about the Foreign Service

The lofty mission statement of the Bureau of Medical Services is: “Our mission is to promote and safeguard the health and well-being of America’s diplomatic community and to facilitate the diplomatic efforts of the Department of State.”

In contrast, their day-to-day unofficial motto is: “It depends.” It’s a cliche in the Service. Ultimately, flexibility is the crux of the job. It’s the whole point – we’re a corps of highly skilled people with adaptable families who can be moved around the world to serve the needs of the United States, for the good of our countrymen back home and our allies around the world. The practical ramification is that when we ask “should we keep our 110v appliances, or should we start shopping for 220v?” or “should we pack snow boots and parkas for the kids, or shorts and flip flops?” or “do we need to bring like, um… giant sacks of flour or sugar or something?” the answer invariably comes back “It depends!”

Oh! And what’s a hardship post, you ask?

We’ll probably sell both vehicles. The Tiguan is too small for us, and though it’s AWD, it’s doesn’t have the high clearance recommended for bad roads. The van is a huge boat that’s easy to cruise around in, but Kia doesn’t have as large a worldwide presence. We don’t want to drive anything that stands out too much and/or doesn’t have accessible service/parts.

If we dump both cars here, we can pick up a Toyota something or other. Or a Trooper, or a Pajero, or seriously a Mitsubishi Delica. Maybe even diesel. The car market is on fire because of COVID-19 / supply chain / inflation, so the KBB value on both cars is *more than we paid for them!* So the tentative plan is to sell both here in the States, pick up something more rugged and worldwide in the DC area during orientation, and then the State Dept will ship it for us to… we don’t know yet. Either that, or Jen can get a job with Ineos Grenadier for an employee discount.

Great! 1 task sorted, now on to the 10,000 others!