Friday, June 30, 2006

Boom Boom Belgium

Don't let the title, fool you, I was in Madrid with work on Wednesday and Thursday last week. A fantastic experience, when you consider I just answer the phones on a helpdesk, day to day. Someone must be doing well, I hear you cry. Let me firstly make it clear I was not first choice for this trip and rightly so. There were far more important people who could not make it, so I was asked, as a 'favour' to attend this client conference. While we saw nothing of the city and actual social time was quite limited, it was still a quality time away from the office. There was also perhaps an opportunity to get to know colleagues whom I only really speak to when dealing with the ongoing "open calls" on the service desk.

Why, was I sent some 800 miles to the capital of Spain? Why couldn't I have gone closer to home? It was with a team to specifically demonstrate some software. The software itself has been around since the conception of the company I work for, but until a few weeks ago, I only knew it by name. Simulation software is a unique area of computing. Just look at the results you get from Google. There is perhaps no field where you cannot use software to mimick real life. Perhaps most useful in a training environment. While I know little of how the simulation actual works, it was more the functionality and how to questions that I was in attendance for. Up close and personal technical support if you will. Although I had to be careful to only assist and not step over the line of advice. The language barrier was less of an issue, as most of the delegates had a good handle of English. The only problems occurred when we had to explain UK specific aspects of the model, but even so, the application to a certain extent is the same, even if the information infront of you is slightly different.

The group were divided into teams of three or four, representing their country, giving the event an international, World Cup flavour. (The locals were fuming at losing to neighbours France the previous evening.) There were many points that I could mention in this post, but perhaps the most memorable was the three man team from Belgium. They were so keen to begin anaylsing their results for the next round and left their machine with us, while they went to get some refreshments. On their return into the room, they went up to my colleague, pointing at the laptop, "Belgium Boom Boom?" He replied in his best English schoolboy accent, "Yes gentlemen, we have ended your third cycle, collated the results, loaded them onto the master machine and switched you over to cycle four." I wanted to burst out laughing, but the faces of our European friends perhaps summed up the difference between us on those living on the continent. Some things are just lost in translation. One thing the Spanish have got right, is the afternoon siesta. Something tells me, I would have great difficulty convincing my manager to add a sleep period to the team schedule. Though, if I get another opportunity to jump on a plane around Europe and beyond, I won't be turning it down. Just need to make sure I always have a valid passport ready.

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