One Saturday morning:
The Big Decision in Cairo

Because we lived next door in Saudi Arabia for 6 years, Egypt was easy access.  We spent Christmas holidays there one year, and were back for a NESA conference another.   I taught two classes in Cairo for The College of New Jersey, and visited Cairo American College as a consultant twice.  Altogether, we know the sights and sounds fairly well, and enjoy it in spite of the horrible traffic.

On our last trip there, in 2010, we were staying at a small but lovely hotel right on the Nile, well south of downtown, near the ritzy suburb of Maadi.  I was teaching a ten session class for 22 local Egyptian teachers, all women who taught in various international schools.  The class was held about a 30 minute taxi ride away at an international school in another suburb.   

On weekends the class ran from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 pm, plus taxi rides plus preparation and grading, a day for me, but even longer for the poor teachers in my class who had been teaching classes of their own all week before attending my sessions for 3 hours every evening and all day on the weekends.  It was a grueling 14 days for all of us.  By the last Saturday I was beat.

We got up at six so that I could eat and catch the taxi at 7:15.  At breakfast I asked Kay, "So, what are your plans for today?"

She replied, "Well, I'm going to sit here in the cafe while reading the paper and drinking coffee, and then I'll be meeting our friend Jocelyn downtown to visit the Egyptian Museum.  Then we're going to eat a leisurely lunch and she promised to show me her favorite shops, followed by tea.  Finally, I'll take a taxi back here, enjoy a nap, and wait for you to walk in from class at six.   But isn't tonight the night you have to grade final exams until late because grades are due tomorrow?"

I thought about our respective schedules all the way to school.  I was going to be on my feet all day and reading final exams most of the evening.   Kay is out having fun with a friend.   A huge plus for me was that this was my favorite class of all times, with 17 charming Egyptian women, many wearing beautiful scarves and all thrilled to be in graduate school working on a degree.   But suddenly that didn't seem like enough payback.  This is really hard work!  I prepared for weeks before we flew (all night) from Arkansas to Egypt.  I'd rather be playing during my Golden Years.   I made an instant decision.

During the lunch break I wrote Dr. Carroll at The College of New Jersey and thanked him for the opportunity to teach two dozen classes for him in Venezuela, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Kuwait, and Egypt for the past ten years, but I was 67 years old (at that time) and enough is enough!  I decided also to put an end to my private consulting.  

It was a big decision, and I stuck to it with only one exception.  A year later I had a chance to work in Beirut and take Kay with me, so I dusted off my materials and did it, but came home and immediately discarded 90% of my books and materials and stored the rest in the attic... just in case.

I've always heard the adage:  "When it's time to quit you'll know it".  I'm glad that I listened to my inner voices that Saturday morning in Cairo.