Has anyone got a map of Germany?
I was busy one day when my boss came
over to see me.
"Allan", he said, "I've
got a little job for you this afternoon.
There's a meeting tomorrow morning and
I can't go so I'd like you to go instead".
"Well I'm not doing anything special
tomorrow Terry", I said feeling quite important, "So
it's OK by me, where is it, in the main conference room?"
"How about this afternoon?"
he said, not replying to my question.
"Well I'm a bit busy at the moment
Terry", I replied.
He didn't seem to hear that bit.
"I'll give you ten minutes to finish
off what you're doing", he said "Then go downstairs
to the front door and there'll be a taxi waiting to take you
to the Airport.
On the way call in at American Express
and tell them who you are and they'll give you the tickets etc.".
"Where am I going", I asked.
He looked at a bit of paper and said
"Where's that", I said.
"Germany", was the reply,
"and by the way sort out the details before you leave",
he said over his shoulder as he went off in a hurry.
I asked a colleague where Karlsruhe
was but he didn't know.
He said Ted might know.
Ted was the union rep and knew most
He worked in the lab so off I went to
He didn't know where Karlsruhe was either
but he had a diary with maps in the back so we looked on the
page where Germany was.
It had the whole of Europe on it so
Germany wasn't that big.
He had a magnifying glass hanging round
his neck because he couldn't see that well, and with it we found
It was next to Frankfurt (actually about
an eighth of an inch away).
I went down to the front door and there
was my boss waiting for me.
"Oh by the way", he said,
handing me a package, "While you're there give this parcel
to our engineers".
"What engineers", I said.
It turned out that another department
had asked my boss if he could spare anyone to deliver a couple
of power supplies as they had run out of spares for an important
Acceptance Test which was taking place tomorrow.
Because of the urgency they hadn't been
able to raise a carnet, which is the paperwork you need to take
things like that abroad.
He leaned over me and said in a confidential
voice, "When you get to Customs don't say anything and bend
your arm slightly so they don't guess your carrying anything
in your briefcase".
The power supplies weren't very big
and fitted in my briefcase but they were pretty heavy.
Before I could think of anything to
say, the taxi whisked me off to American Express, down the road.
They asked me were I wanted to go so
I said Frankfurt and they gave me a ticket from Liverpool via
London and Dortmund to Frankfurt.
They also gave me an envelope with a
lot of German money in it.
I then had to go home and collect a
clean pair of socks and my passport.
Luckily I lived near the airport but
I still had to hurry to get there on time.
I arrived at Frankfurt Airport and found
a train going to the City.
There, at 11:30pm, I got a taxi to the
hotel, which I'd managed to book shortly before leaving the factory.
The taxi driver must have thought I
was bonkers because the hotel was only about 50 yards from the
First thing in the morning I walked
back to the station and found a train going to Karlsruhe.
I arrived and got a taxi to Eurocontrol
which was where the meeting was.
I checked in at their reception desk
at about 11 o'clock and asked for our Company engineer, whom
it turned out, I knew by sight.
"Hello Bill", I said when
he appeared, "I've got your spare power supplies here".
"Oh that's all right", he
said, "we managed to mend the ones that were broken, we
don't need them now. I did ring to tell them but they said you'd
"Oh", I said, "have them
anyway I'm not taking them back.
When's the meeting?"
"What meeting", he said.
I explained what little I knew.
"Oh", he said, "we had
that at 9:30, I didn't know you were coming to that.
They just wanted us to quote for moving
a few bits and pieces around some radar consoles and I said we
weren't interested as the locals usually do that sort of thing".
"Anyway, since you're here, how
about an early lunch", said Bill "we can knock off
now and go into town for a drink".
And we did.
I stayed overnight and went home the
That was over 30 years ago.