Desperate times call for desperate measures, as author Gretchen Berg finds out in her lighthearted travel memoir, I Have Iraq in My Shoe. Berg is struggling to make ends meet after the recession lands her $39,000 deep in credit card debt, and with her job ending, no future employment plans in sight. So when her friend offers her an English teaching position with a ludicrously high salary, she can’t say no, even after she finds out the catch—that the job is based in Iraq. After just one year Berg pays off her debt, visits nine new countries, buys 20 new pairs of shoes, and even finds time to teach. Read on for a sample of this funny book that will (almost) inspire you to follow Berg’s path.
It is possibly my least favorite thing to be standing at the Delta Airlines counter, at 5:00 a.m., listening to the agent say, “You can’t take any bags over seventy pounds.” I had four bags, two of which were one hundred pounds each (stupid hockey bags with their stuffable corners, and my inability to balance them on the bathroom scale at home); the other two were seventy pounds. I was told there’d be no math at the airport…
Dante’s Eighth Circle of Hell was Fraud. My Eighth Circle of Hell was the Royal Jordanian Airlines counter at JFK’s international terminal. Royal Jordanian apparently only allowed to checked bags, at a maximum of seventy pounds each. That should not have been surprising to me, as it was similar to Delta’s policy, but those details were back in Portland, days ago, and it had been 5:00 a.m. then. The Royal Jordanian desk agent informed me that it was impossible for the airline to accommodate my two (agreeable colossal) hockey bags of now-ninety pounds apiece, two suitcases, and one small duffel bag. He explained that I could bring all one hundred eight pounds of hockey-bag-what-have-you, but it had to be distributed among three bags, not just the two hockey bags. That was not logical. It was not efficient. It was not flier-friendly. But if I had to use various adjectives to describe Royal Jordanian Airlines, those adjectives would not include logical, efficient, or flier-friendly.
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