Alan finds that his life in the U.S. isn't financially or psychologically viable, so he picks up a gig with an IT firm called Reliant to work in Saudi Arabia for a bit. He hopes to seek his fortune and some kind of personal redemption after a really harsh decade or so of failure.
Dude desperately needs some kind of triumph in his life.
Alan ain't exactly a knight in shining armor when it comes to difficult and noble questing.
He does have to overcome serious culture shock, loneliness, and a sense of worthlessness that comes from aging out of a career, though. His desire to get past his awkwardness and failures lead him to stunning gaffes and humiliating circumstances (especially where the ladies are concerned).
Arrival and Frustration
Alan's constantly being brought within sight of triumph only to have the cup of victory dashed from his lips at the last minute. Examples? Sure thing:
- His position as head of the potentially successful Reliant team
- His confidence in his sales skills (which are now irrelevant)
- His nearly-awesome love affair with Zahra Hakem
- His reliance on "proprietary" and impressive tech (which he neither understands nor is very proprietary)
In the end, Alan clings to a desperate optimism in the face of these failures—mostly because he has no other choice.
The Final Ordeals
Alan faces a series of challenges as he seeks his fortune. The toughest one? Himself.
His best qualities—eternal optimism and a knack for selling—land him in a heap of trouble. Alan can't moderate his enthusiasm for opportunity with a dose of reality, which means he's often blindsided by failure.
At first, he tries to blame his poor decision-making and awkwardness on the gross lump growing on his neck. Unfortunately for our hero, the lump has nothing to do with it. It's just a totally benign cyst.
Ultimately, Alan has to take personal responsibility for a lot of things, including his failures as a husband, a father, a friend, and a worker. Sure, he has to wait out King Abdullah and hope he can sell him a big, fat IT contract. But that challenge is secondary to his internal ordeals.
The money from the Reliant deal would have allowed him to ignore the serious need for introspection and change. Abdullah's rejection thrusts him back into a place of personal confrontation and hardship.
Alan doesn't achieve his business goals at KAEC—womp, womp. He doesn't escape from the clutches of financial ruin as he had hoped. He never gets the girl, even though he's had two excellent opportunities. And he only momentarily wins the respect of his colleagues.
But Alan clings to the possibility that he might still win, if only he can hang on for a bit longer in the desert.
We sense that this is a pretty desperate approach. However, Alan's optimism always has him skittering after the next carrot—which isn't a bad plan when the only other thing waiting for him is a stick.