After the adventure in Germany last week, it was back to earth with a bump today – emptying the dishwasher, making breakfasts and lunches, washing my bike, filling it’s tyres with air, and cycling to the office. Quite a contrast from living in a hotel within walking distance of the office.
I spent the greater part of the morning filling out expense claims to cover the flights, hotel, trains, taxi, and food. This is of course complicated by exchanged rates, which have to be recorded for every single transaction. Administration hell. I usually help the wonderful lady that pays my expenses by including a print-out of my credit card statement, with each receipt numbered and cross-matched. I think I’m the only person that does that.
So. I’m back – for a couple of weeks at least. I’ll be back in Germany the week after next, and again in July. I really should start choosing hotels based on their reward programmes though, rather than how close they are to the office. I’m slowly racking up air-miles – I imagine at some point in the future I’ll be able to cash them in on a fun trip to Germany – maybe a weekend away for myself and my other half – a chance to visit the various museums that line the river through Frankfurt. While working in the city, I never get a chance to see or do anything other than work.
Since work has been taking me here, there and everywhere, people have often expressed their jealousy – imagining that it’s somehow fun to visit new places. It probably is fun if you’re not working – but the harsh reality is that I rarely see much more than the hotel, the route to the office, and a conference room or two. Last week is the first time I can recall going out for a walk on my own in years. I wandered from street to street, watching life happen around me, and ended up walking somewhere in the region of nine miles over the course of a few hours.
I don’t mind my own company at all, but there is an exception – sitting alone in restaurants. I’m not sure if it’s because normal family life is busy, chaotic, noisy, and never-ending. When you suddenly find yourself sitting at a table on your own with nobody to talk to – nobody to share your day with – it can be pretty lonely. Especially when your thoughts are dominated by the world of expectation resting on your shoulders the next morning.
I’ve often been told to care less about the work I do, but it’s just not the way I’m put together. When things don’t work, or the way I have done something is questioned, I tend to take it to heart. Of course cultural differences weigh into this too – some nationalities can easily be seen as blunt, tactless, or just plain rude when expressing opinions. A client recently grinned while I mediated a discussion, and remarked “Oh, you English – you so often say things without saying them”.