I’ve been summoned to Zürich to stabilize on-site a software application. Normally I solve such situations using a remote session, like RemoteDesktop, RemoteAdmin or the wonderful tool TeamViewer, and I also prevent such situations by thoroughly testing the software before a delivery, but this situation was different. The laboratory does not allow Internet access (they had really bad cases of employees using the Internet connection for personal purposes, bringing malware into the network, reducing productivity and annoying coworkers). Also, the application controls a 40K Euro printer, so all my tests were done “to the best of our emulators”.
I must say I had to travel previously to customers in Germany, for similar reasons, and the experience was dull. This time, I had a good time.
I’ll record here every detail.
Like any good trip, it started with a nuisance: I’ve taken an older company laptop with me, that seemed to work just fine. In the airport, while waiting to board the aircraft, I’ve turned it on and started working on a project. Only after a few minutes, the laptop started to make “low power” warning sounds, while the battery indicator was still showing 100%. I ignored the beeps and, after another three minutes, the laptop shut down all of a sudden. At that moment, my intuition told me the battery must be too old. Guess what: the airport in my town has such an old infrastructure that there’s no outlet for travelers. So I had to just sit on a chair for almost an hour, doing almost nothing (well, there’s a pool game on my good,old Philips mobile and I’ve been trying to beat level 8 for some time now, so I had something to do at least some of that time). Just to make the trip more interesting, my bladder activated even more, so I had to visit the airport bathroom a few times in a single hour (I must say I hate visiting public bathrooms).
The trip between Iași and Zürich usually requires a stop and an airplane transfer in Vienna.
The flight from Iași to Vienna was really interesting: the aircraft was so small that for the very first time in my life I hit my head against the ceiling. And the bathroom was also so small, I could hardly turn inside. And the third “surprise”: no running water, only some anti-bacterial gel.
I was already expecting the fact that there will only be one newspaper in English (the flight is operated by Austrian Airlines, and they offer around ten newspapers and magazines, all nice and shiny, but in German). So I tried to understand the hard figures and facts described in Financial Times articles, but, alas, they were all referring to issues I already knew.
So, long flight, tiny and crammed aircraft, no laptop, few reading options … Oh, there was one thing: the flight attendant served some very good orange juice (that’s something I’ve always appreciated at Austrian Airlines; and the fact the flight attendants look good in red).
Finally, we’ve arrived in Vienna and I’ve rushed through passport control, security checks and then through the long corridors of the airport to board the flight to Zürich. I’ve been in Vienna airport a few times before, but now the corridors seemed extremely long (I had to switch between gates group D and F, if I remember correctly). When I finally got at the gate, I’ve just had to jump in the airplane and that was it, we quickly took off.
Again, the flight was operated by Austrian Airlines, so again they offered only one newspaper in English, the same orange juice and a tiny piece of chocolate. And again I was not able to use the laptop. Talk about mind training …
We had one thing to keep our minds busy for a while, though: I had a place at the window, just behind the right wing, and, while taking off, some yellow liquid started to spill from the wing. It looked a little scary at the beginning, but I had the chance to ask the flight attendant about it and she explained me it’s the deicing fluid (that was new for me, I’ve seen airplanes being deiced before, but in that case it looked like the deicing liquid was in a tank in the airplane and spilling out throughout the entire flight).
Finally, we’ve got in Zürich. There was no passport control, as they’re in the Schengen agreement, and I had all my luggage with me, so I zoomed through the exit, to meet my customer.
It was the first time we were meeting in person, all previous contacts took place via e-mail, phone and Skype. Exactly when I was wondering if I’ll be able to recognize her, I saw a lady with a paper in her hand, with the text “Dan V. Romsoft” on it. Good, let’s move on!
We’ve exchanged the normal greetings, salutations and pleasantries and then she told me how several guys tried to hit on her saying they are Mr. Romsoft (if you do not know already, Romsoft is the name of the company where I work at this moment, so by no means the name of a guy, and it is a combination between “ROM” – short for “Romanian” and “soft” – short for “software”). She said she found the situation disgusting, I actually found it really amusing. If I were her, I would have actually asked the guys some scary questions, for example “So, where’s the viper you’ve promised me?”