You are on top of the world. And sometimes it feels like that is the problem. That is where we at Razor’s Edge LLC come in to support you. If there is one thing that our many years of business experience have taught us, it’s that finding yourself means finding yourself in someone else’s shoes.
You wonder about what life is really like, out there, outside of your safety bubble. You are looking for meaning, but don’t know how to pry it loose of its shell. You are an adventurous spirit. Yours is an unquenchable thirst for difference. Meet Razor’s Edge, because we have been waiting just for you.
The reality of others will no longer feel only remotely connected to your world. Your view of the world from the clouds will descend to a view of the world from the dust of everyday life as lived by millions. Your perception of risks and your ability to manage crises will be acutely heightened. You might even find personal redemption in living the everyday lives of others, as they live them. Either way, we know you are made of strong stuff, and that’s why Razor’s Edge will help you dive into the deep end of the world.
What Razor’s Edge brings to you is a uniquely unforgettable tourist experience that we call reality tourism™. The evolution of our vision is one that drew water from many wells of wisdom, whether literary, philosophical, or the best practices of the ever changing travel industry. Partly inspired by Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge, the founder of our company, Edgar L. Sumner-Snow III, went on his own adventure into the acrid dusts of reality following the footsteps laid out in Maugham’s novel. Edgar thus worked as a coal miner in Europe and then traveled to India in the company of great spiritual men. He came back a stronger person, a new man, and a better American.
Razor’s Edge LLC was thus born in 1999. We are an international and cosmopolitan staff currently headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, and have opened offices in the Cayman Islands and Panama, to better serve your needs.
Branching off from our parent company, Consumer Recreation Services, Edgar began by harnessing several waves of elite international travel of years past. From the first days of travelers venturing to Jamaica on banana boats, to missionary work in China and Africa, to humanitarian aid work, the Peace Corps, eco-tourism, the expeditions of students volunteering abroad, or even the solidarity brigades that went to work in Nicaragua, Cuba, and on Israeli kibbutzim, Edgar noticed something was missing. What was missing was that anthropological immersion in the everyday, which his Swiss missionary-anthropologist grandmother had imparted to him. His vision, now our vision, thus transcends all preceding modes, offering the highly discerning among our global leaders in industry and finance a chance to know something different, at a depth few would have plumbed on their own.
What reality tourism™ does, in packages starting at $57,000 USD for periods of no less than three months, is to help you live another life, and then come back to your own. Where our experience differs is not in what we put in, but what we take out—because reality for millions is neither safe nor clean, nor is it predictable. You won’t be staying in a hotel. Your room, board, and return airfare are all paid from the work you will do. You will not be treated as special, and you won’t be spared any of the work your co-workers have to do. And you may have to learn a new language, very quickly. There will be no guides, bodyguards, and no 1-800 number to call for backup. (For more details, read below.)
If the world of business today is one without boundaries, then knowledge should have no boundaries, and there is no knowledge like that which is based on direct, personal experience.
Reality tourism™ is based on recognition of the fact that, in the global world we live in today, the cycles of life, and the production and consumption of commodities, are increasingly fused together. We thus offer packages that span the life cycle and that take you from production to the market and to consumption, from growth and harvesting, to selling, and then right down to waste management. The rich opportunity presented by the chance to penetrate other worlds and their hidden meanings may reveal previously unrealized niche-market opportunities in a world of ever growing and changing consumer demand. This is why some of the leading companies on the Fortune 500 list have opted to enroll their senior executive staff in our packages. In general terms, there is already a high market value to being there, as any business traveler, diplomat, journalist, or anthropologist will tell you.
Here are some examples of what we offer (also see the brochure below). Emphasizing mobility and the market in everyday life, we have two packages. First, our “On the Waterfront” packages include working as a stevedore in the port of Callao, Peru; employment as a security guard at a port for abandoned Soviet submarines in Albania; or going out to sea on a Thai fishing boat. Second, “On the Road Again” includes challenging packages such as servicing clients at a truck stop in Mongolia, driving a bus on the mountain roads of the Andes, experiencing life as a street hawker in Nigeria, or working in a Mexican motor vehicle “chop shop”. Beyond the first two, our “Sunset” packages immerse you in the inescapable realities of death and dying, and the necessary industries that revolve around them—you can thus opt to work at a morgue in Siberia, at a mental hospital in China, or as a funerary worker in India carrying the deceased down to rivers or placing them on funeral pyres, and then cleaning up afterwards. Are you a stranger to your own food? You don’t need to be, and that’s why we offer you our “World We Eat” packages. Those packages offer you a choice of working in a slaughterhouse in Jamaica, picking coffee in Colombia, hauling bananas on a plantation in Honduras, working on a rice paddy in Vietnam, or serving customers at a McDonald’s…in Mexico. “The Factory is a School” places you as a worker in a match factory in India, or right next door in the fireworks factory; you can stitch sneakers on an assembly line in Bangladesh; or, you can work in a carpet factory in Tunisia. The “Cleanup Crew” allows you to explore the complex world of waste management and toxic cleanups, whether collecting garbage off the streets of Trinidad & Tobago, or doing asbestos remediation in a Soviet-era factory in Belarus. We also have miscellaneous, stand-alone offerings that are the beginnings of new packages. For our non-US resident customers only, we offer “The Streets of San Francisco” where you can help collect syringes from curb sides in San Francisco. Open to customers of any nationality, you can be transported as guest worker to Saudi Arabia. We have many more options in the works, based on feedback from past clients.
How does reality tourism™ work? First, prospective customers will need to undergo extensive psychological and physical checks, and meet with our legal department to go over our liability waivers and nondisclosure agreements. Those who meet the necessary criteria, and agree with our legal obligations, can then take the second step: choosing the package that is right for you. The third step involves payment of all fees plus an insurance deposit. Our staff will then assist you in preparation for your journey, including guidance on the best life insurance packages that are out there.
Your fees cover a one-way, first class ticket to your destination, plus emergency healthcare in the event of any unexpected illness or injury. In addition, Razor’s Edge executives dedicate a portion of your funds to compensating the owner(s) or operators in charge of where you will be employed, as well as prospective co-workers as a courtesy in return for their agreement to treat you as any other co-worker. You will sign confidentiality agreements with the owners or operators of the enterprise which will employ you. You will differ from other workers in that your placement has been negotiated in advance of your arrival—you do not need to apply for the job. On your arrival in the country, you will be left with enough local currency to cover public transportation costs, the cost of a basic meal, and the first nights of accommodation until your first paycheck. You will not be allowed to enter the country with any personal electronic or recording devices, and the clothing you keep will be minimal and functional. Any attempt to go beyond the parameters of your agreement with us, such as by purchasing a cell phone or Internet connection, making contact with the outside world, or accessing personal funds beyond those which you earn in-country, will void the terms of our agreement and lead to our withholding repayment of your deposit fees, which can be as little as $10,000 USD and as much as $95,000 USD, depending on the package. Any attempt to document and report on working conditions in-country will render you vulnerable to the prosecution and penalties of the local justice system, and we will withhold your deposit; otherwise Razor’s Edge cannot interfere in such situations. Razor’s Edge also does not provide security and you will thus need to rely on local authorities in the event of any trouble. We will have staff in your country, but apart from the temporary staff you meet on arrival at the airport, the identities of our regular, in-country staff will remain unknown to you until you are ready to return home. Most important to note: you will be required to pay for your room and board, and your return airfare, with the wages you will earn through your work. Therefore the date of your return is open, depending on the location, the rate of remuneration, the value of the local currency, etc., but typically most stays abroad range from three months at a minimum, to two years (our current maximum). Our company’s principal commitment is to negotiate your employment and access, in conditions where local unemployment can be quite high, and little more beyond that. To repeat, we are not in the business of arranging vacations.
Finally, we are aware of the interest and concern expressed by persons in university anthropology departments, and we would like to offer a few reassurances, and announce an important new offering tailored for anthropologists in particular. First, we very much doubt that our presence in the market will lead to a decline in student enrollments in anthropology courses, given that cost of our packages can rival the cost of a four-year degree at a US institution. Even the fortunate few who benefit from one of our packages would still lack the professional credentials offered by a university program. Few students will turn down professional credentialing for their comparatively undemanding travel pleasures, in return for one of our more demanding packages. Second, we would like to take this opportunity to announce the release of an important new app from Razor’s Edge: Fieldwork®. Fieldwork® can operate on most PCs, tablets and smart phones, and is available for a minimal monthly fee of $3 USD. With this app you can immerse yourself in one of a select group of work environments, where we have installed 360° cameras that stream online 24/7, with audio included. You can also text your questions, which will eventually receive the response of one or more workers at the location. This will be like doing traditional fieldwork, only online, meeting the current demand in anthropology for more online ethnography, while being respectful of longstanding anthropological traditions.
Thank you for your kind attention and we hope to welcome you soon as the newest client of Razor’s Edge! In the meantime, remember the words of the founder of our company:
“Because a life well lived first has to be lived”.
Edgar L. Sumner-Snow, III
UNDERSTANDING REALITY TOURISM, WITH SEAN PENN
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