You may think I haven’t had enough to drink if I say, “No progress is good progress.” It wouldn’t be true, of course, if I actually had concrete plans to follow and schedules to maintain– instead, I have whimsical notions, vague ideas, and occasional moments of clarity. For instance, I don’t know which category this falls into, but I was thinking about fish feed one day (I don’t want to buy commercial fish feed, as who knows what’s in it, and I want to be self-sufficient, anyway) so the logical thing to do, according to my particular brand of logic, is to brew “Beer Bolaven” and feed the fish the spent grains. And while I’m at it, since the climate is suited, why not grow my own wheat, barley, and hops? More about that in a later post.
But that’s not why my building site has looked like this for months. The photo was taken on August 25, and unless the whole thing eroded, it looks like this now. We went to the site in early September, fully intent to make some progress, but that wasn’t to be. Dirt was required, so we called the guy with the dump truck with the bald tires and blatantly lied about the condition of the access road. Blatant lying can be contagious– he told us that he couldn’t even get into the place where he gets his loads of dirt. We were defeated. We succumbed to the will of the rain.
Meanwhile, duty called. I had to go to Europe and escort my boss, the president, and our managing director, his nephew, on some customer visits. In contrast to most trips abroad, this one involved so little work we were all feeling kind of guilty. Our customers had conspired to make it a 9-day stay in Germany with only about 12 hours of face-to-face discussions. But, as the driver, it was still fairly hard work. These customers were located such that I had to drive over 2,000 km, crossing Germany from north to south and east to west (but not in that order). There was also a day trip into Switzerland, to a customer nearby the village of Gruyere, famous for its cheese. The rental car was a spanking brand new Volvo. It was a luxurious, automatic diesel, which freaked me out when I came to my first full stop– the engine quit. “What a piece of shit,” I mumbled as felt around for a nob, dial, or button that would get it going again (these things don’t use keys as I know them anymore). But it turned out that all I had to do was take my foot off the brake and it would start itself up and get going as if nothing had happened. . . the bastard.
The problem with a long business trip like this with hardly any business involved is that I, as General Coordinator of Business Trips, have to organize the whole thing, like a travel agent. Yes, I choose in advance all of our hotels and many of our restaurants. It’s hard work. A trip of such length with so little to do requires visiting at least 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I chose Potsdam and Lubeck. Between Baden-Baden and Dresden I couldn’t find a World Heritage Site, so they had to settle for a 13th century tower we could climb.
Over a fabulous dinner with some purchasing and logistics people belonging to a customer in the Hamburg area, we mentioned this tower. “What’s the name again?” “Where is it again?” None of them had ever heard of it. “How did you find it?” I told them that, according to the Via Michelin website, it was the only point of interest on our route between Baden-Baden and Dresden– in other words, across the whole mid-section of the country. “And what did you see from the top of this tower?” Well, we could see very far, I replied. “But there is nothing in that part of Germany, no hills, no forests. . .” No, but we could see very far. Very, very far, I suggested, after a long pause, feeling sort of sorry for the tower which cost us a euro or two to climb, following in the footsteps of 7 or more centuries of fellow tower climbers. But, anyway, everywhere I went, there was beer to drink.