I was sent to Leὸn Spain to work with a team of colleagues from all over the world. I worked with representatives from America, Spain, Denmark, and China. Our hosts apparently were determined to make our time as full as possible with “Cultural” experiences. This includes tours of cathedrals, historical monuments, pubs and marathon eating experiences in local restaurants. As romantic as this sounds, all is not as it seems. First we had to contend with being driven by Jesús the crazy van driver and sleep deprivation. Then we had to try to outlast our hosts.
Our day starts with a 6am wake up call then breakfast in the hotel lobby. Then off to the factory for hours of being power pointed until we are close to suicide in a little conference room. Then we would break for lunch, which entails Jesus driving us to a restaurant. By the time our knuckles lose their nice white hew and the cramp goes away from our brake peddle foot, the food is served. Then another course of food, and more food, and then some wine or beer. Then strong coffee was served and ash trays are provided, everyone smokes and sips. Jesús drank a half a bottle of red wine and chain smoked a half pack of cigarettes.
Then he drove us back to the factory to endure more power point presentations and broken discussions, followed by tours of the factory. Somehow Jesús’s driving improved. Around four thirty it was time to take us back to the hotel so we could freshen up and get ready for a tour of the city. There were times where I wanted to kiss the sidewalk upon arrival.
I noticed on the second day that Jesús had a plastic Jesus on his dash board.
Then I remembered a song I heard on the radio.
ARTIST: George Cromarty and Ed Rush
TITLE: Plastic Jesus
I don’t care if it rains or freezes
‘Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nations
With my plastic Jesus I’ll go far
Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
I’m afraid He’ll have to go
His magnets ruin my radio
And if I have a wreck He’ll leave a scar
Riding down a thoroughfare
With His nose up in the air
A wreck may be ahead, but He don’t mind
Trouble coming He don’t see
He just keeps His eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind
I couldn’t get that song out of my head.
The tour consisted mostly of walking around cathedrals, monuments and old walls. The rain was steady and light enough so we didn’t get completely drenched. This petered out around 8pm, too early for dinner, so we hit the pubs. It’s hard to turn down beer when the factory manager is buying. Alcohol based team building with bigwigs is more work that it seems, especially the next morning.
We had to keep drinking until 9pm because that’s when the restaurants open. Dinner is a marathon event with bread, cheese, wine, multiple courses, wine, desert, snaps, and cigarettes. We usually got home shortly after midnight.
The drive home with Jesús was relatively quiet and with out the usual morning and lunch time terror. We were so tired, drunk, and full of food that getting back to the hotel alive just didn’t seem as important as just sitting and staring into space.
I have always imagined that jet-setting around the world and attending meetings would be exciting and glamorous. I was also afraid that this kind of thing would swell my head. Thank goodness for Power Point, Jesús, and the Spaniards trying to wine and dine me to death. I learned a lot of respect for business travelers. And thanks to Jesús for keeping me humble. Life is precious. For me, work is play, play is work and round and round it goes.