At one point in the RSO's presentation on how to call for assistance in police, medical or fire emergencies, he said, "And, of course, you'll want to learn enough of the local language to get the help you'll need."
The room erupted with at least a dozen scornful snickers.
Madam sincerely hopes that those who expressed such disdain for simple survival did, after all, survive. And she hopes that the annual orientation at that post has continued, with one critical addition.
The advent of the internet - and the Department's sputtering, semi-scizophrenic responses to it's employees' or their dependents' use of it - has raised a new specter, one even more terrifying than Madam's expressions of opinion (although those seem to have been terrifying enough). That specter is happy, homey blogs with titles such as "Our Year in Yerevan" "The Smiths Take On Santiago" "Jacked About Jerusalem" and the like, which are written by spouses with time on their hands and an even weaker sense of safety than those family heads who laughed at the idea of learning a hundred words that might save their and their children's lives. Now that 3 FAM has been driven, snapping and snarling, into a cage, these FS and civilian spouses can safely ....
Ah. But there's the problem, isn't it? They can blog. They can post freely to Facebook. But in the heady joy of blogging and Facebooking they may be placing themselves and their families in more jeopardy than any lack of language could.
Such blogs and FB postings can be freely accessed by friends and loved ones anywhere the world. And by anyone, anywhere in the world or two blocks away, who might consider doing harm to America or, as the country's proxy, any individual American. This ambassador has a bodyguard. Good. Do his sons and his daughter? And now the world knows what they look like.
Got a grudge against the businessman who didn't hire you, against the president, against the US in its totality? Against the West? Against the world? Here are some potential soft, easy targets for your anger: their names, their relationships, their current color photographs, their car, and their front steps.
Madam is delighted that these ladies enjoyed their shopping trip. So, perhaps, is the cousin of the man who owns the pottery store; a cousin who was refused a visa last week by one of the husbands and he doesn't really care whose. And now he has a photograph from which he can choose the easiest target.
WTF would a loving parent be thinking, to direct a camera at these precious babies at an unguarded overseas school, then post those photos for the entire world to see, perhaps to memorize, to print and slip into a pocket, to stalk, to snatch, to gut? There are wolves out there...
Wolves that, if they can't get you, will do far worse. They will get him.
So please seriously ask yourselves and ask your Amcit residents, who is watching the children? And who else?
PS: due to the number of complaints in the comments, Madam clarifies: except for the first photo, none of these samples are taken from actual Amcit blogs. They were located via a standard Google Image search without "American" in the criteria. Which might serve as a caution in itself; the internet reaches much father than we sometimes imagine.