True Story No14


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 "Karlsruhe".

"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 things.

He worked in the lab so off I went to see him.

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 Karlsruhe.

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 station.

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 already left".

"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 next day.

That was over 30 years ago.


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