BPC and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad work trip

This is a long one, so buckle up.

Monday morning. 4AM. Trains to the airport aren’t running, so I have to wake up at 4AM, catch a bus, and catch a plane at 7AM so I can be at a seminar in Cologne by 10PM. I’m traveling with two coworkers - let’s call them Max and Leo. Leo is there for the seminar, like me. Max is doing other work at the same location.

Let’s start by mentioning a few things I don’t handle well:
[li]Sleeping poorly[/li][li]Missing meals[/li][li]Having my time wasted by others[/li][li]Feeling out of control of what’s happening to me[/li][/ul]

This will matter shortly.

So we get to the Cologne airport, and we’re in a big hurry to get to the seminar on time. Max is driving, and he’s already made it clear that he was annoyed that me and Leo checked bags for a 4-day trip. For some reason. So we get our bags. He gets breakfast for himself, as I learn later. We have to hustle out of the airport, so there’s no time for me to, say, get breakfast. That kinda sucks, but okay, it happens. We get to the seminar, and I’m already on low blood sugar, tired, and cranky. We start the seminar, and first impressions are pretty weak. The software seems a hell of a lot worse than what we’re already using. The actual contents of the seminar really aren’t particularly important, other than that I struggled with the software not working.

So okay, seminar is over, we head off to find Max. He needs a little while longer. How much longer? He doesn’t say. We end up waiting an hour, then finding someone else who is willing to go out of their way to drive us back to the hotel. Then we wait another hour, because Max was taking us out to dinner. Then, he shows up at the hotel, checks in, and promptly falls asleep. Half an hour later, we call him, and by this point I am really hungry, exhausted, and starting to get sick of waiting on this inconsiderate fucker. But okay, we get food, and my mood almost stabilizes a little.

The next day, Max demands we leave early, because “he’s got things to do”. So okay, let’s be there half an hour before we need to be there, so that me and Leo can do… fucking nothing. The seminar is dull. On the way home, it’s the same story, except that the guy who took us home isn’t there. Max needs another hour or two to work on his shit - and this time, he needs Leo as well, and I can’t drive. At this point, I’m in a miserable mood, so I decide, “fuck it, it’s only 6km, I’ll just walk back to the hotel”. Which I did. Google maps is bad at telling what’s a “path” and what’s “half a mile of knocked-down trees and blackberry brambles”. Once I get there, they immediately drag me out to dinner with coworkers, which Max tells me will be on the company dime. It wasn’t. We end up staying out really late, and the subjects of conversation are exactly “work” and “cars”. I don’t drive and couldn’t give a rat’s ass about cars. On the way home, Max is still fucking talking about work. I am so out of it, and so sick of devoting all of my goddamn mental energy to my job that I just ignore him.

So the next day, the same shit happens again. Again, we leave early. Again, the seminar is dull, and again it is over hours before the person responsible for driving (who happens to be 20 years me or Leo’s senior) is ready to go. So again, we’re just going to wait. For hours. Fuck that noise - I grab a taxi back to the hotel. I decompress a bit, and of course, there’s another company dinner. Which, again, the company is not paying for. And again, the only subjects are “cars” and “work”. I try to get involved and steer the conversation towards anything I can relate to whatsoever that isn’t work. I feel ill, and anxious, and socially alienated. I bow out and leave, again, walking home about 5km over rough ground. Again, google is bad at figuring out what is a path, and what involves jumping over a broken cattle fence.

The next morning Max reads me the fucking riot act over leaving, because that’s impolite. The seminar finishes early, so we have 3 hours to get from the location to the airport. An hour’s drive, and then two hours to go through security. Nope! Max wants to keep working late. So he cuts it as close as possible, despite my objections. I’m freaking out at this point, and he wasted an hour and a half of my time. I am so done. We drive an hour - it is now 40 minutes before boarding - and Max decides he really wants to stop to pick up something from the corner store. I was freaking out at this point, basically a walking panic attack. My anxiety was firing on all cylinders.

We end up being barely on time for the flight, which ended up being delayed. By the time I was home it was 9PM. I barely had any decompression time for the entire damn trip. I was completely destroyed.

And that was my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad work trip.

So you had to work on a work trip and seem unaware of the charms of on demand transportation like taxis or whatever ridesharing company is flourishing in Germany during Uber’s ban. Also, you don’t much like Max and you are upset when people aren’t talking about what you are talking about. What did I miss?

Ugh, that sounds horrible. I hope you are feeling better now that it’s over with.

What’s with work not paying for all meals while you’re on a business trip? That completely blows.

and taxis, how come they didn’t give you a travel allowance for taxis to the seminar and back?

You are a functioning adult, at a work trip with two people who are not your direct supervisors. Presumably you have traveled before. Why did you 1) allow them to tell you when and how to travel, 2) not realize that packing snacks is pretty much standard, 3) not check beforehand what the travel allowance/process was? Google may not be great at mapping out a walking route, but it sure as hell will find you a taxi and a convenience store.

Actually no, packing snacks is not standard in most of Europe; grabbing something to eat for yourself while not asking “you guys want me to grab you something?” isn’t either.

And it sounds as if they were travelling and driving together as part of one of those wonderful cost-cutting policies designed by people who’ve never tried to carpool with someone that had a different calendar. BPC was given information/orders which in multiple instances turned out to be wrong. That’s not his fault!

If I’m hungry I go get food, and I don’t care who or what is in my way. “We don’t have time to eat” is not a grammatical sentence in any language I speak.

Don’t get me hungry. You won’t like me when I’m hungry.

Pretty much. Part of the point of this thread is figuring out how much of this is “my company/coworker fucked up” and how much of this is “BPC is fucked in the head”. :frowning:

It was a work trip so it seems reasonable for this Max guy to have been working instead of giving priority to chauffeuring you 2 about. I don’t know why you didn’t just get a cab when he said he’d be ages. It also seems normal for there to be dinners to meet up with the “locals”, that seems pretty standard if they are people you speak to or will be speaking to in the course of work.
As for leaving for the airport, I’m like you, I like to leave plenty of time, but you didn’t miss the flight and the other bloke was working so again I don’t think you can really fault him for not wanting to hang about at the airport instead of finishing up whatever he was doing at work. As for the dinners, maybe you’ll get reimbursement when you get back? That’s not unusual, if they haven’t given one of you a work credit card.
It doesn’t sound like much fun, but it WAS work.

If he knows for a verifiable fact that he struggles with freaking out when he doesn’t eat, freaking out when he doesn’t have control over a situation, and freaking out in social situations, it is absolutely on him to either communicate that clearly or do whatever is in his power to mitigate those situations. I would hope that, standard or no, even a cripplingly anxious European can figure out “I do poorly when I don’t have food, and I’ll be traveling at a minimum from 4AM to 10AM (I assume the PM in the OP was a typo) with people who may not have these issues, and then I’m going straight into a workshop; I should pack a protein bar or three to eat on the bus/on the plane/in the airport/in the car ride over.”

The first day/night was on his coworker. Every subsequent issue is on the OP. Max showed exactly who he was the first day, and the OP is well aware of his personal issues; at some point responsibility has to be taken. He is a professional and presumably his company felt him capable of representing their best interests while also acting like an adult.

If I was someone who both hated missing meals and wanted to be in control, as he describes himself in the OP, the best way to prevent the first is by embracing the second. Pack a snack for yourself so you can eat when you need to, cultural norms notwithstanding. Especially given the vagaries of traveling- what if the plane was delayed on the tarmac, for example.

The OP really has to learn how to assert himself. If he’s hungry and he hasn’t eaten, he should say he’s going to grab something to eat, and if the other person has to wait five minutes, then he’ll wait five minutes. It won’t kill him. Likewise, if he’s tired and he wants to sleep, he should say he’s tired and he wants to sleep, and then go to sleep. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself.

It sounds terrible. I have been in your shoes.

Next time, skip the dinners. Tell them you’re not feeling well and stay in. “Upset stomach” works well or “not sleeping well in a strange place”.

Work travel is a bitch, especially when the social expectations get piled on.

Basically people learn from their experience and adjust their behavior accordingly. Thus after seeing how badly the first day went you should have made your own travel and eating arrangements for later days.

Actually, I thought BPC was from the U.S., and is now living in Germany. Was I wrong?

Yup. I, thank god, rarely go on business trips. The last time I did it was alone, and since the company was paying airfare, I bumped myself up to first class for a couple of hundred bucks.

Once, I went to a convention with my boss. I respect him but would never choose to spend time with him. After a day of classes, I said that I’m going to go out to look for a birthday gift for my wife to take back. He said “great, I’ll come with you”. Well, I must have some look or body language or something and I turned to him. He immediately said, “or no, I won’t tag along”.

I don’t know what is wrong with some people, but my boss has it in spades. (he gave me shit for going to my FIL’s funeral, he got a truck load of shit dumped on him for that. I could go on.)

BPC. Really, I enjoy your posts, but assert yourself. Nobody is running your life but you.

It sounds like sharing a car with Max who was working on something completely different so had a different schedule, was a big part of the problem. Did you already know Max well? Did you anticipate he’d be annoying?

It sounds like you were crossing the ocean (“catch a plane at 7AM so I can be at a seminar in Cologne by 10PM”). Is overseas travel viewed as a “perk” at your work-place, or as a burden?

I did a lot of business travel in the late-1970’s. Meals were always company-reimbursed. We worked hard, but also tried to find a little time for play. Mostly we were too work-focused to have conflicts about schedules or restaurants … except for my travels with one guy who was a PacMan addict and, believe it or not, would stop the car at almost every convenience store to put a few quarters in their PacMan machine! :smack:

I truly have no idea. If that’s the case, then Nava’s comment is even less applicable, since it was offered as an excuse why the OP wouldn’t have thought to bring snacks along.

Interestingly, if we look at this for a moment from Max’s perspective, he’s 1) likely gotten up as early as the OP on day 1; 2) been held up at the airport by two coworkers who chose to pack enough stuff that they need to check a bag (note that it took them long enough to get their bags that he had time to buy something to eat and eat it with his coworkers none the wiser); 3) had to drive them to the seminar; 4) while they hang out in a workshop, he has to work- well beyond the point where they have to (according to the OP, at least 2+ hours); 5) drive himself back to the hotel which is ‘out of the way’ from the seminar location. Is it any wonder that he fell asleep when he got to the hotel?

I travel frequently for work; sometimes on my own, sometimes as part of a group. There’s always a business dinner or two, but the rest of the time I sure as hell make sure everyone is aware that my time is my own. Then it’s all room service and Netflix. :smiley: My job is to coordinate with the person who makes the travel plans (in our case, our admin) before travel happens to ensure that they work best for me- whenever possible, a hotel within easy walking distance of the work site, a direct flight instead of one with layovers, etc.- AND that I know what company protocol is for reimbursement. Only once have I carpooled with a coworker, and that was because they lived in the area and were going by my hotel on their way to work. I taxi/Uber/Lyft/walk the rest of the time. And every time I travel I pay for everything myself up front, then get reimbursed later by the company, so I agree with the others that it’s likely everything was covered (as long as you followed your company’s protocol for keeping receipts/staying within your per diem).

I think the 10 PM was a typo. I think BPC meant 10 AM, as evidenced by Max sneaking off to get breakfast.