Recommended Listening: “Song and Emotion” – Tesla
It’s hard to believe that 20 days have already gone by. Other than being a token white face during the meetings in Korea, I honestly do not see the full value of me being here. I surely haven’t made any friends with the other design institutes that we are working with on this project. When I have to use a phrase like “You knew about these schedule dates when you signed the contract. Don’t play dumb with me now,” you know there are going to be issues. A very large, very important engineering deliverable is due on 5/21. For those of you good with a calendar, you’ll see that that is 6 days after I leave Beijing. As I write this, there are 6.5 working days left for me to help them accomplish what they need to deliver on the 21st. The worst part is that the work isn’t being done here in Beijing. This is one of those documents that we’ve outsourced to the other design institute to complete. Each morning, I’ve asked for a status update on this document. Each morning I’m told that it’s not done yet. Meanwhile, I look for other things to help with. Thankfully, this deliverable, regardless of how important it is, is not the biggest issue with the project. There are many, many commercial issues that will likely cause delays in shipments, payments, and start-ups. I’m extremely glad that this isn’t part of my immediate concern. Maybe down the road (hopefully not), but for now, my job here is “simple” as I had laid out above.
Aside from the nearly impossible task ahead of me on the work side, I’ve been keeping busy outside of the office. Now that spring time is in full force, the Saturday tradition of golf in the morning has been part of each of our plans. I’m extremely glad for this because the moment I get home, I’m leaving on an annual golf trip with some coworkers named the “Snickeys Cup.” I’ll explain about the Snickeys Cup a little later. On top of this, I’ve spent a lot of time wandering aimlessly around the city, armed with my camera and a map. Unlike my trip in November and December, it’s warm enough for me to enjoy being outside. In fact, the average daily temperature has jumped over 20 degrees since I arrived. Today is supposed to reach almost 90. During the work week, I’ve been meeting up with folks, both Chinese and American for dinner. These dinners typically last a couple hours, and by the time we’re done, it’s time to walk home and relax a little before bed. It really makes the days (and weeks) go fast. As a matter of fact, I haven’t done nearly as much as I thought I would. As an example, yesterday was spent hanging out on the patio with the guys, a couple of beers, and a big bag of chips with a couple jars of salsa and cheese dip. It was almost the perfect relaxing Sunday.
Some of you may be looking at the dates I mentioned earlier and see the 6 day discrepancy between when I leave and when the document is due. You may even ask yourself why I’m not staying until the release date. Some of you may even be asking yourself if I scheduled my departure date such that I don’t miss the golf trip. Well, if you are one of those people asking that question, then my answer is “You’re damn right I did.” Leading up to this trip, I was subjected to a constant battle between upper management regarding whether I will be going to China, or staying in Ohio. One week I’m going, the next, I’m not. After being screwed around like that for 2 months, and finally being told that I was going for 30 days, I made the decisions that fit both the immediate contract requirements as well as my own personal commitments. It’s bad enough that I had to cancel a trip to one of my favorite race tracks in the nation, as well as autocrossing in one helluva badass little car. I wasn’t going to let someone else’s issue ruin any more of my plans. Take that as you will. Had everything with the trip gone according to plan, I would have no problem staying a little longer to ensure that everything went correctly.
Now, back to the Snickeys Cup. This annual golf trip started 4 years ago with my coworkers. It started as us looking for a place to get away, play golf for a weekend, and have some fun. For good measure, we added a couple games and kept track how each person did against the rest of the players. There was an overall prize, a prize for the best “worst shot,” a prize for longest putt, closest to the pin, and other types of skills like that. We even had a game where if you didn’t hit the ball past the ladies tees, you had to wear the Sahlen’s Hot Dog Hat for an entire hole, and the person with the most “hot dogs” was ridiculed and heckled… even to this day. Since then, it’s expanded and grown a bit. First of all, it now has an official name. The name came from one of the guys (all names withheld to protect the guilty) was debating between buying a Snickers bar and a Hersheys bar, and got tongue-tied after seeing the extremely attractive lady working the snack counter. “Snickeys” is the word that came out of his mouth, and he’s never lived it down. Last year, I lost the grand prize by only a couple of strokes. This year… that cup is mine. I’ve improved my game, improved my equipment, and improved my method of getting into their heads. If I don’t win this year… well, I really won’t care much, but I would still rather win.
And on that bombshell, it’s just about time to leave the office and grab dinner. Until next time.