It was time for round two in the EN 15085 welding standard audit. This time it was in Derby UK, so at least it'd be done in English. You headed there on the first flight out of Zürich Monday morning, had a relaxing coffee break at Birmingham airport, and sped off on the wrong side of the road towards Derby. It's taken many years, but you are finally ready to say that driving on the right side of the road is right, but maybe you're just looking for reasons to bag England.
Compared to your last work audit, you weren't expecting as much of a of pounding. Luckily, the beardy auditor bloke seemed more interested in talking about new standards than asking questions, so you were just left in peace. The guys from the UK office rarely saw someone of such impressive beardyness, and they asked if he was a member of ZZ Top.
There really isn't much of a story to give, but while there you did see some products made of wood. High-tech industrial products made of wood somehow just look odd, even if they are proven solutions.
Company Soccer Tournament
Somehow, you usually get lumped with making the team presentation for the company's yearly soccer tournament. Everyone at work has great ideas for the video - remake a scene from a movie, or something musical - but few ideas are feasible alongside normal workload. It's always a last minute rush to throw something together. Disappointingly, no one supported your idea to remake Miley Sirus's Wrecking Ball with a giant soccer ball.
The 80 second presentation video was a throw-together of anything filmable in the office which took no more than two minutes of a person's time. One part of the filming was, for example, filmed during a telephone conference with the Propulsion Division in Versteras Sweden; the microphone was muted temporarily. Options were limited but the results were satisfactory.
This year four additional players joined from the Oerlikon office - arguably, the only willing and able soccer players on the team after the captain. Everyone met at Zürich airport on Friday morning and flew via Warsaw to Wrocław. The flight was uneventful, letting you dig into The Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela's biography). The book was quite the history lesson: hundreds of people, places and events were named and detailed. The only actual names which you remember after reading the entire text were Winnie and Tokyo Sexwhale.
You all landed in Wrocław, found a car and hooned off towards the hotel with the stereo blasting heavy metal. After dropping bags you headed to the factory for a site tour. Seeing the place and familiar faces again was nice but nothing new; everyone else seemed interested in the big metal things. Some of the guys got lost in the painting shop, assumed to be huffing in one of the cabinets. Following the visit everyone tried to find their way to the stadium with varying success: two cars made it, one car got lost, eventually arriving at a different stadium.
As usual, the evening event was amusing. It was a good opportunity to catch up with people you've met through projects and not seen in a while. It was held in Wrocław stadium, an olympic-sized venue. The team presentations weren't bad, but some were excruciatingly long while others a copy from last year. Derby's wasn't bad with its beer-based soccer training, but the same joke for 4:20 got old.
As for the soccer itself the next day, everyone played and even scored some goals: Mic 1, Fabian 1, Anders 2. A few teams utterly dominated the indoor field making it less fun, and there were rumours of teams hiring professionals players. The head of HR apparently requesting player rosters to check against his official employee database. Nothing new.
In the afternoon you had some hours to kill after being eliminated from the tournament, so everyone headed into Wracław city. Big groups always move slowly and take for ever to organise. You all coalesced at one point in the beginning, but very quickly peeled off in different directions, mostly due to your impatience. After crossing the bridge with the locks, seeing a church and ascending its steeple the group size had shrunk from eleven to three. To ascend the tower you had to take a lift operated by an old, round Polish bloke in a cardigan who only Ludovic could speak to. You never realised how much Polish Ludo learnt during his nine month stay.
Back in the centre square you all searched for the fake window, which apparently had some kinda story behind it. You reunited, predictably, in a bar in the city centre. Most of them abandoned the tour in favor of drinking. Mic had bough some street-food near the bridge, a log of cheese he thought was bread, which he unwrapped and tried. It stunk to holy hell but tasted ok. The cheese odours were strong enough to attract local wildlife, as some random bum came past asking for a bite. Mic obliged him with the rest.
Following the matches - Poland came second, theirs fans were ecstatic - and the dinner some of the team headed out into the city. Wrocław old town offers some great nightlife and the boys were keen to see it all in one night. The next morning some of them looked a little worse for wear, some missing breakfast altogether in favor of sleeping. By early afternoon stories of fights and black eyes came trickling in.
Most of the group (the sober ones) found their way into Wrocław old town for some coffee and nibbles. You all adjourned to So! Coffee and pondered why Paolo had a strip club business card in his pocket. Back at the airport Josu and Fabian reappeared, the former bearing a black eye. Josu's version was that he landed a punch or two too: a claim no visible bruse on Fabian could confirm. Damn soccer hooligans...