3D Rooms & Fancy Cars
On a recent trip to Siegen you were given a very fancy hire car. The trick was to arrive on Sunday to get the free double upgrade in addition to your choice of car. Although it sucked to loose a Sunday night at home, hooning down the traffic-free autobahn in a Mercedes was kinda cool.
Some Germans are a bit stubborn when it comes to change, especially when told what to do by someone from Switzerland. Although your course started in the morning with declarations or resistance, by the afternoon they had changed their tone. Your open promise to "not force but convince" them payed off, and they ended up thanking you for being a pushy git.
Due to time constraints you ran a German session until 5pm, then ran the same one again in English. Both sessions were really fun. Especially the second session with the Indians, who stayed back after work voluntarily for it. The single French participant didn't share that level of enthusiasm.
Before coming home you had a squiz at the new 3D room. The concept of calling a room 3D is entirely without specticle; you would have been more impressed with a 2D room. Some cheeky bugger had convinced management he needed a movie theatre sized projection screen, special viewing glasses and fancy inertia-enabled interactive software. The result (once finally up and running) wasn't so bad after all. You could look at your designs in 3D space in the room by moving your head. You could literally look underneath things by kneeling and looking up at it from below. Wow! Just like in the workshop... which was 50 meters away. So innovative!
After two days of double sessions you were pretty burnt out. Meike commented she hoped that you'd take a break from talking for a while, which wasn't entirely unprovoked. You had spent the whole train trip back from ski touring the previous Sunday coming up amazing with ideas for your housewarming party. You suggested putting "there will be strippers" on the invitations (as a misprint) and have slippers lined up at the door. Not everyone shared your sense of humor.
Anything that happens of a Friday is an excuse not to work. As such people had taken the time to bring and set up their telescopes at work, tape together pin-hole viewing boxed and have lengthy discussions about the best viewing time.
The whole office was outdone by a beautiful trigonometric coincidence. The very narrow slits between the shutters on the south-east side projected columns of eclipsed suns on the floor. It captivated an audience for most of the morning. Productivity was at an all time high...
Visiting Ever in France
For training purposes you were sent to Crespin in the north of France. To be there bright and early Monday morning required arriving the night before, travelling via Düsseldorf airport and taking a long drive through Belguim. Once again, you got a very fancy hire car. It was a shame such a massive storm hit, throwing trees throug the sky, drowning traffic and reducing the possible driving speed to under 60 km/h. Several times the cars stopped completely on the autobahn because their window wipers couldn't keep up with the rainfall. You just decided to sing you way through the storm. The booming thunder made it seem that bit more epic. It was near midnight by the time you arrived in Valenciennes at the 'otel.
Valenciennes was a small, sleepy town which — if you've ever seen Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Sticks) — looked cliche French north. The streets were very narrow, the brick buildings unspectacular and there were few signs of life. Atypically, probably due to the wind, you had nice weather. The few people who were outside starred upwards at the strange colour, confused where all this light was coming from. Blue skies and sunshine are a rare sight in the north of France apparently.
The work-related part of your trip was all good. You were there to give a course on cabling and pipe work systems: a very dry topic. Yay, standardisation! The course participants' English was a bit wobbly but you all worked through things OK.
After lunch you bumped into Ever. He looked exactly the same, with the addition of a nice skirt and pants. Everyone in the engineering kitchen high-fived and fist-bumped him as he entered, making it pretty clear how popular he was in Crespin. His comment was something like "Hey Mr. Sam! I must look good, no? That's all I can do, eh." The room laughingly agreed with him. He must spend a lot of time working on inter-office interaction (a.k.a. chatting in the break room). Funny Mexian.
You went out to dinner with Ever in Lille the second day. You could see why he chose to live so far from work — Lille was a beautiful, modern French town of amicable size. The weather had gone back to normal and it was raining, causing the cobblestones lined streets to reflect a patchwork of shimmering lights. The narrow passageways hid a wealth of cafes, restaurants, hipster bars, boutique shops and general French messiness. Ever was keen to pick a good place to eat. It took a while but rain eventually pushed you into Estaminet Au Vieux de la Vieille — a typical northern French diner focused on cheese, chips and other starch-heavy foods. Ever explained the Belgians were to blame. The bloke sitting next to you recommended the French-something-something, which you enjoyed. It was 5 cm deep baking tray of melted cheese on ham. Very northern French.
It was a fun night discussing boxing lessons (which didn't quite pay off), the classiness of soccer (of which, there is none) and scuba diving lessons in the local pool. Over dinner Ever also explained French lunchtime politics, to which he had fallen victim. He made the mistake of going to lunch with a female coworker more then once a week. Such a thing was a clear indication he was a regular Don Juan, according to his boss, and he was urged to watch himself. Anywhere else in the world you'd assume the boss was just jealous. French politics are odd.