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What are your thoughts?

January 14, 2008

I went back to The Great White North last week for some more fun. On the upside, it was considerably warmer and less snowy than it was on my last trip. On the downside, I’m not sure that hospitality is a skill those folks learn or foster.

I was there on a team of three — a global team. Two from across the pond (one with excellent English skills and one with not-so-excellent English skills) and myself. I’m not sure I explained previously what the goal of these visits was, so let me do that now.

The folks there are being audited in the next few weeks (woo hoo – what fun!) and needed our help to close some glaring gaps that would surely have earned them some not-so-nice remarks in the final report. We were there to assist, to provide expertise, to provide extra cycles, etc.

You would think, given our purpose, that they would have been very kind. Hmm… not so much. The most senior member of our team had to leave on Wednesday and she took the rental car with her.

That was unfortunate because the site is in an industrial area, as is the hotel–not close to any amenities of any kind. No restaurants close by, no malls, no grocery stores, not even a convenience store. Needless to say, that would leave us “in the cold” when it came time to get lunch, get to the site, or get back to the hotel at the end of the day.

We considered getting another rental car, but the employees at the site said, “No worries. We will be happy to get you to and from the hotel. We’ll make sure you’re taken care of.” OK. We were on board with that. And sure enough, Wednesday evening they did get us right back to the hotel at the end of the day.

Thursday morning, we had a ride to the site, as well. It was going as planned, so far. The team there had a celebration luncheon planned at a local restaurant on Thursday at noon. Our main site contact told us about the luncheon and told us that he would send one of the other employees to get us when lunchtime rolled around. We were working in a small, portable building at the back of the site, so we wouldn’t just know everyone was leaving by the mass exodus of employees.

Lunchtime came and went and no one came to get us. When we ventured inside, the place was empty. And when lunchtime was over and everyone returned? They didn’t bring us anything to eat, they didn’t offer to take us anywhere to get anything, they didn’t even mention that they had forgotten.

I foraged and found a half-squashed protein bar in the bottom of my backpack that eased the hunger pangs in the afternoon, but didn’t do much for my annoyance.

Later that afternoon, I asked my remaining teammate whether we should eat at the hotel that night or try to arrange a taxi and get something at a restaurant. “Oh, we won’t need a taxi,” he assured me in broken English. “Our colleague (referring to our secondary site contact) has a car and he wants to take us to dinner.”

“Great,” I thought. Maybe lunch was just an anomaly. Maybe something had happened of which we were unaware. Who knows. Either way, we’ll give them another shot. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

The end of the day neared and my teammate had a short meeting scheduled with our secondary site contact, while I had a conference call. At 5:45 pm, my teammate came back in the door.

“Ready to go?” I asked, packing my things into my backpack and looking forward to a nice meal.

He looked down at the table and said, “I feel bad.”

“Why?” I replied.

“Because, our secondary site contact wants only to have… a… how do you say it? Boys’ night?”

“Seriously?” I responded, feeling my cheeks flush. “A Boys’ Night?”

He nodded. “He has made arrangements for someone to take you back to the hotel.”

Outstanding.  Just outstanding.

I was honestly incredulous. While my husband goes out for Boys’ Night occasionally (just like I go out for Girls’ Night), that’s personal, and this was business. I had never heard of such a thing. More than that, when we were a team, there to help, I was floored that they would opt to take one of us out for dinner and leave the other back at the hotel.

“If you come to Italy,” my teammate said, “we take the WHOLE team.”

I agreed. “If you came to the US, we would take the WHOLE team, too.”

So I spent the evening in my hotel room, ordered some bad lasagne from the only place I could find that spoke enough English to get accurate directions to the hotel from me, and fought off the distinct urge to beat someone about the head and shoulders for rudeness and poor business practice.

I hope that it will be quite some time before I have to go back up there. And if I do have to go, let me assure you that it will NOT be without a car. I haven’t decided on whether HR and I will be discussing this little “incident” or not.

What are your thoughts?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynda permalink
    January 14, 2008 11:44 am

    It was incredibly rude of them to leave one person of the team out, regardless of the fact that you are a woman. As for speaking to HR about it, I guess I probably would only bring it up if I was told I was heading back and I was wanting to demand that they get me my own personal car so I was not thrown into a situation where I couldn’t even go have dinner at a restaurant.

    But, that’s me. I’m pretty passive and it often comes back to bite me in the rear. Then I get upset and feel sorry for myself that I’m stuck and that I allowed myself to be put in that situation…so I don’t honestly know. Maybe it would be best to have the discussion with HR.

    Either way that you decide, I promise I’d never leave you out!!

  2. January 14, 2008 1:12 pm

    Are they French? The French are rude that way. Anyway, one of my mantras that I have to keep telling myself over and over, and then, over and over again is: Nobody, not a soul on this planet, not a one, has my interest, health, safety, enjoyment or any other kind of thought, first and/or foremost in their minds. And, every soul on this planet, including me, is probably thinking of themselves first and/or foremost. After I go through those mental gymnastics it is easier for me to plaster my opinion on whatever circumstance like: Stupid French Canadians. Yeah, I know, it’s not very Christlike, however it keeps me from further burning up precious mental and emotional energy so that I can think about other good things, which may be more Christlike :^). Other than that, not knowing the company heirarchy, hard to suggest to go to your local HR person, other than to let off some corporate steam! Hope you are done with the French folks.

  3. January 14, 2008 2:41 pm

    Stephanie sometimes your blog makes me laugh and sometimes it makes me sad. Today you made me laugh.

  4. tulips4me permalink
    January 14, 2008 6:31 pm

    UGH! It is completely ridiculous that they ditched you twice. Rude, rude, rude. A Boy’s Night? Definitely sounds like a nightmare for HR, if you decide to persue it.

  5. January 14, 2008 8:56 pm

    What a loser. Boys night? At a corporate meeting? LAME. I’d definitely tell HR and your manager that you’ll not be traveling alone without the security (and safety) of your own rental car. Period. End of story. Find someone else to do it via WebEx otherwise!

  6. January 14, 2008 9:07 pm

    Totally has nothing to do with your post. I’m calling for aid from other stepmoms. My blog is being attatcked. Someone has linked my blog and it’s getting pounded with bad remarks. Maybe I am a horrible person, I’m starting to feel that way…but I don’t think I’m a bad stepmom. I think I’m doing ok. My blog isn’t for praise its for documentation. But am really struggling. Please let others know so that I can get some support. A New Beginning is fighting my fight with me. But we need support.

  7. January 15, 2008 5:38 am

    well that sucks.

  8. lucky13 permalink
    January 15, 2008 10:25 am

    was his ‘boys night’ code for a strip-club outing? you should have said you would have gone along! the look on his face would probably have been worth it. and it’s my opinion that you should most definitely inform HR about the way the entire meeting and lack of meals and transportation was handled. and boys night as well. after all, it was a business trip not a personal outing. and i’m assuming on your company’s dime?

  9. March 5, 2009 5:03 pm

    I keep coming to your site through the other ‘stepmom’ blogs that I read, so I thought that I would see if I can get a password and check out your blog too.


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