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Dr John Hawkins

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First Day at the US Office

Posted on 2007/01/18 17:08:39 (January 2007).

[Tuesday 16th January]
So following yesterday's holiday, today my induction course for the new job began in earnest. Actually quite a lot of what we did today seemed to be a repeat of the HR type stuff I'd been through last Monday back in London. Not all that interesting really, but I suppose this kind of thing is necessary.

Later on in the day I met some of the team I'm going to be working with in the US, and then went for dinner (some of the cafes there open for dinner as well). So far I have to admit to not being all that bowled over by the food, but maybe I've just chosen badly.

The drive back to the hotel at the end of the day was a bit of a challenge - it was dark and raining, so visibility was pretty poor. I was probably a danger to other road users - a couple of times I passed through traffic lights without really noticing they were there (although luckily they were on green - maybe if they had been on red I would have noticed).

The evening was pretty uneventful really. The problem with having eaten at the office is that you're then robbed of anything to do in the evening! Certainly the TV here seems to be utter, utter crap, with the one saving grace being the occasional episode of The Simpsons.

I'd bought a bottle of Caol Ila on my way through Heathrow, having learnt from previous experience of the dreariness of being stuck in a hotel room all by yourself. I had a couple of very modestly sized glasses, but it seems I wasn't really in the mood for it. As I may have waffled on about in the past, the situation in which you drink whisky makes a big difference to the experience (much like wine, where they refer to "tasting the terroir"). I recall one whisky writer saying that nothing can beat sipping Laphroaig whilst sitting on the pier of the distillery itself, looking out to sea. Presumably though the reverse of this is also true, and a dreary setting can kill a perfectly good whisky.

It just so happens that I'm staying in the same chain of hotels that I'd stayed in on two long business trips to the US with the previous company. The Residence in by Marriott seem to excel at dreariness - the rooms are like mini-apartments, which I suppose means they think people will be very self contained there. So crucially they don't have a hotel bar, usually the one source of comfort for the lonely business traveller.

When I'd started last week, one of the HR people had actually said - "You're going to California next week? Lucky you!" - this is presumably the words of someone who has never been on a business trip, and therefore doesn't understand the indelible link with utter dreariness that they have.

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