Camp and community: How I got 16GB of ebooks for free

A teacher named Jason jumped into my office.

“Hey, do any of you guys read? Do you want some ebooks?”

He got my attention.

“I have about a gig of ebooks if you want them. There are some great ones in there too, man!”

“Oh, yeah?” I said. “For sure, I’m interested. Can I drop by your place later this evening?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Just bring a big jump drive. There’s a bunch of them.”

Later, I visited his place, and his roommate started showing me his files: hundreds and hundreds of books, all different kinds, just sitting on his hard drive, over 16 GB worth, not one. I was glad I’d brought my external hard drive and had plenty of space.

“If you’d like,” the roommate said, “I can simply give you everything I have, and then you can delete whatever you don’t want afterward. Have you eaten yet? You can stay for dinner while you wait.”

Jason was making spaghetti in the other room, spaghetti and garlic bread. Of course I was in.

So I stuck around and talked, even tried some openly lousy, homemade wine while I was at it. An hour or so later, I left with a stomach full of food, a hard drive full of books to devour over the coming months, and an overloaded amount of optimism about the rest of the contract.

This is why it’s cool to live in a camp like this in Saudi. This is why community is so important.