This is the first part of my Budapest story, starting somewhere in the end of November in 2001, when I was 21 and got my first travel ticket from work, to work sadly. This precedes the other stories categorised in Budapest so far, but my planning was a bit off there, hence this story. Where I had mentioned in an earlier story I’d gotten disappointed in my peers, I wanted to illustrate it as it connects to my saddest and only stripper story. Also, I still haven’t picked up my travel-notes from other trips at my moms, so since I’m still feeling the vibe, I have to finish what I started. Or rather yet, if you jumped in earlier: Begin what I ended.
I knew this day was coming. Yet as normal, I try to be detached about it for as long as possible to contain myself. I get excited easy, but more even so as this was the first day I actually got to travel for work. I need a certain nonchalance to counter this ‘excitement’ up until the point of the last day of work before the event. That was Yesterday.
My nonchalance goes hand in hand with being careless. Carelessness is like getting stoned today. Stoned because there was a huge gap between me waking up in my apartment and getting to the airport. I can go into details here, but lets just agree I was taking it slow and easy, up until the latest point I could stay in my apartment. To illustrate: only after lunch I finally took the time to pack my stuff, then had my final purifying shower, before I left the house casually dressed.
Arrived fairly on time at the airport some moments later, because living close to the airport has it’s merits. But it wasn’t a total smooth ride there though. I artfully had to dodge the conductor -while earlier for no reason at all- my colleague had rang me about me being late in a bossy tone. As I had no intention to check in together anyway, his call was pointless next to being rude. This made me go into detour-mode, where I had to find some coffee before confronting my over-stepping colleague.
For some reason, back in 2001; Starbucks surprised me to actually taste bad, service put aside. To be honest: I wanted them to taste good, mind you, because in those years I was already charmed of their exaggerated sized ‘cups’. But unless you made your drink drinkable for kids, like putting in lots of caramel and whipped cream, their coffee was not even likeable, especially in big dosis. As we only had Starbucks at the Airports and some of the main train stations in the Netherlands those years, you’d think they’d make the effort. But as it stands I went there too, knowing it would be horrid on the pallets, but good on the pick-me-upper. I had a large cup with ‘Mr. Feelgood’ written on the side, as that was my mission that day, but succeeding it I would not.
Arriving with aforementioned coffee in hand at the gate, the place where I do meet preferably, I would find out the reason for the earlier snark. We would be travelling on the same flight as two other gentlemen from my company, based in Budapest. They seemed quite important, hence his earlier behaviour. My colleague, whom I will now refer to as Jesus in this story, met me with annoyed eyes as he waved me over to their seats. He seemed a little nervous to my appearance at the gate, and I haven’t even made a fool of myself yet. He was a tall Dutch guy, in his early thirties, and like the two other gentlemen, wearing a 3-part suit. I myself did not look that impressive.
I previously thought of him being different than my other colleagues, in a positive way, as normally he was less of a suit than others, he was an engineer like me. But today he broke my presumptions a bit, as his behaviour was so obvious, trying to one-up on me after making me look bad over our earlier phone conversation. Here was where I got childish too, I just couldn’t give him the satisfaction to introduce me to them with him ‘being omni-important’. So I jumped in ahead and gave both firm handshakes while introducing myself.
We exchanged names and covered positions, from work of course, while Jesus was leaning back. In relation to the upcoming holiday Sinter Klaas, I brought some sweets and chocolates for the kids of some of my Budapest-based colleagues. I turn to my co-worker: “Jesus, did you tell them about the Dutch holiday festivities and about bringing our colleagues kids some treats?”, knowing it’s too late to get them now.
Annoyed he responds he brought for them too, while thanking me for asking. They in return thank him, we all smile. Good, now we’re on even terms, I don’t feel like needing to be on defense anymore this week.
You see, me and Jesus are colleagues, we report to the same bosses, all six of them. There is no reason to start our workweek like this, but I don’t accept being used as a stool for him to use to step up the ladder of suits. Now Jesus respects or hates me a little more maybe, for whatever it was worth, me acting like an ass could help mutual respect.
Flight was short; no further hiccups with Jesus. We successfully ‘ignored’ the others, super-easy, since they had business tickets where we had none. The plane had changed them into new characters, who did not need our company anymore, evidently as they left us before baggage claim in Budapest Airport with Jesus’s stash of Holiday sweets.
After Jesus’s rant over not getting a rental-car for the duration of the trip, we took a cab from the airport to our hotel on Kalvin square, which was within walking distance of the Budapest office. I myself don’t mind not having the rental that much -I like walking around cities- also I still don’t have my driver’s license yet, but this is unrelated for me.
Arriving at our suits, rooms, whatever you’d call a quarter of living room filled with too luxurious furniture, I noticed the shower was absolutely awesome. Oh gosh, really? Yes, the bathroom totally rocked. I will disclose only briefly. Because this can impact your stay of early mornings getting up for work when all you do is going late to bed, dramatically. The highlights were the double seated bathtub with massage turbines and what I like to call the ‘Niagra’ shower. A shower-head the size of a 12″ record, that would bring down excessive amounts of ‘Falls’ which no cabin nor curtain could contain. I loved it, so much so, I was inclined to put it into my story somehow. But my happiness was short-lived, Jesus was trying to reach me over the noise I was making in the bathroom.
Remember I mentioned the short walk between the office and the hotel? That walk would’ve been for next day like I hoped, but nope – we had to report in for some reason, was the message. Was this Jesus’s his doing again? Why did we bother going to the hotel in the first place? Better bring those sweets before they become legend.
And in a way they have, not with me eating them but with the eventual irony of me bringing them. I would slowly discover that people who have bad habits, probably kept them active when working abroad.
To be continued in “Odin’s path”.