Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Hardest Working Woman in ... International Banking Office Management

Sorry I got off to a late start blogging today, bit of a hiccup in plans this morning. I arrived in the office ontime knowing that I had two things happening at 9:30 am, a call from IT in Mainz to walk me through setting up our new disaster recovery Notebooks and a meeting taking place in the office I had to make nice nice for. Some members of our team were taking place in the meeting with another American and a visiting German from our home office. When the German arrived, 25 minutes late and exclaiming loudly in English "I am too late! I am too late!", he had along with him ... his 13-year old son.

I found this rather confusing. Why would you bring a 13-year old to a business meeting in an office in a foreign country? Couldn't you leave him at the Hotel to watch TV? Or did you think he would have a good time here? Most importantly, why didn't anyone inform me that a kid would be showing up? Cupcake loves kids. I think they're like, the best invention ever. I could have had something fun for him on hand. As it was, the only thing of interest to a kid I have in this entire office is my rubber band ball, which is pretty spectacular if I do say so myself.

Anyway, at first, they wanted the kid to go into the meeting. Then, they decided to have him wait out in the lobby. As his Dad was going into the meeting he told the boy, "You can go out. You can go shopping." I wanted to say, "Actually, I wouldn't really let a 13 year old with no idea where he is and who doesn't speak the local language loose in New York City, but that's just me."

So I took the boy into the kitchen and showed him the cold drinks and told him he could have anything, then I told him I would be around the corner in another office and he could get me if he needed anything. Then I had to take my call with IT.

Half an hour and one botched call with IT later, I emerged. The kid was sitting and playing with a digital video camera. I got some things done then asked him if he wanted to take a snack break with me. He pointed to the Video camera like he had serious business at hand and shyly shook his head. I went back to work.

The meeting went on and on. An hour passed. Our other colleagues, who had no idea what was going on came in and out, and looked at the kid, quizzically. No one asked who he was. Someone tried to joke with him, rather unsuccessfully. I thought about telling him, "I don't think he speaks very much English", but actually I thought the kid could probably understand a lot more English than he could speak. At one point I walked by and the kid was reading a Fortune Magazine. The site of a German boy flipping through a Fortune Mag in our waiting room, which even I must acknowledge is about the least interesting place on earth, actually broke my heart.

I went to the copy room and got some blank paper. I didn't know, or actually think I forgot the German equivalent for Tic Tac Toe, but asked the boy if he wanted to play and he understood and reminded me of its German name. I told him that we had to sit at my desk so that I could answer the phone if it rang. He pulled a chair up and already he was smiling. We started playing and I was chatting so much I was playing exclusively by reflex, ie not thinking about what I was doing, including not thinking about whether I should let the kid win. I mean, we mostly tied but I did win once. I soon tired of Tic Tac Toe (who wouldn't?) and asked if he knew Hangman, for which there is also a German name but I already forgot it.

He asked if we would play in German or English, perhaps fearing he was back in school and I said German of course, but no ridiculously hard words that I would never get, as in, I was begging the kid to take it easy on me. I immediately began playing with my usual sound effects and taunting forgetting: 1. I was in my office and 2. I was playing against a shy kid. We ended up giving each other lots of hints, but let's just say the ten years I had on him were showing.

I asked the kid if he had more family back in Mainz, like a Mom or a sister and he said no. Hmm. I almost thought to tell him that I also don't have a Mom. He thinks Harry Potter is just okay, like soccer but not really to play, has no pets except a lot of fish and sings in the Boy's Choir at the Mainz Cathedreal which he told me is way better than the Girl's Choir. He was a pretty cool kid. I gave him my business card and told him we could be pen pals if he wanted because it's not weird at all to give out your card to a 13-year old.


Vanessa said...

That was really sweet of you to enertain the boy. He'll remember you for years just because you took the time to treat him like a human being. I agree, kids are the best things ever!

timmy said...

how hard can you be working if youre blogging all the damn time?