While lifting my trolley out of the trunk of the car, uncle Grab stood out of the driver seat to double check if I got all my belongings with me while bidding farewell. I returned the favor with a half-baked smile, murmuring “Thanks uncle, safe driving!” as I signal my way to the to the direction of the main flight departure information area. While admiring the gigantic split-flap display of Changi Terminal 2, I hurriedly scrolled through the list of all departing flights for that night to locate my check-in counter, and found Frankfurt in the middle. I caught myself feeling nostalgic of the previous flights I had to FRA (Frankfurt am Main International) while at the same time glancing at my e-ticket to verify my ETD and end destination. Suddenly I’m reminded, my intuition tells me that this would possibly be my last trip back there for business.
I get this opportunity to visit Hannover once every 2 years to visit my team and brainstorm on ways to improve our processes, to discuss the trends in our industry, and innovate our deliverables. But what’s so special and unique about this trip is that this happened during the time where the company is undergoing a major corporate restructuring process. A painful process that will let go of an unknown number of close colleagues, and apparently, I have not immunity to it. I could be one to let go before end of the year (2017).
The flight left Singapore as scheduled. It was a fine comfortable flight on Lufthansa, utilizing my fave aircraft, Airbus A380. The flight takes about 10 hours, crossing most of continental Asia. After dinner, I checked the in-flight entertainment offering but nah, never found some worthy time killers so I just decided to get some sleep. It felt like I only rested my eyes but was half-awake throughout the entire journey.
My end destination is Hannover. It is the largest city of the Lower Saxony region in Northern Germany. It’s known as an exhibition city, drawing international attention during Hanover Fair, the world’s biggest industrial fair and the CeBIT, the world’s largest computer trade fair.
I am scheduled to arrive in Hannover at around 9:30 in the morning, after 16 hours of flying and few hours of transit in Frankfurt.
Going back 3 days before my trip, a headhunter based in Hong Kong was in touch with me, sharing this opportunity with his client, a Singapore-bred financial tech. Martin, the headhunter, apparently, is a good conversationalist and salesperson. He pushed me to get to know the company and explore what they can offer, and I said to myself “why not?”, at this point of time, any job offer is heaven sent. So, there he goes, set up interview details with a company director and with the complications of our time zone for that week – we agreed on a final interview date, March 1, 2017 at 10 AM, exactly right after I arrive in HAN (5:00 PM in Singapore).
The flight arrived on schedule on the cold, 1st-day-of-March, spring morning. Like most German airports, the service at Hannover is efficient. With only few minutes left before the interview schedule, I hurriedly grabbed my baggage from the conveyor belt and with a slight panic, looking for a quiet spot for the impending Skype call. I don’t want to miss this call, I told myself, this is an opportunity I can’t afford to lose. Luckily, I found an ideal space not far away. I settled in the waiting area near the rent-a-car services. Without feeling any pressure… I still have my job (repeatedly reminding myself)… I managed to answer the guy on the other line about I think what he wants to hear. The interview lasted for more than an hour.
My colleague aware of my flight details, now worried, sent an SMS checking if I have “landed safely”. I hurriedly replied, “yes, heading to the office now.”
Upon arrival in my company’s sprawling campus, Vince, my colleague, showed me my temporary station for the week, and asked me to fix one urgent issue before deciding to drive me to the hotel. I was so looking forward for that offer.
I stayed at the 4-stars Wyndham Hannover Atrium hotel this time. It’s near Vince’s place and it’s just in the periphery of the Messeschnellweg Autobahn, the fastest route to the office. The downsize though is the location, it’s a bit far from the Hautbanhoff, so it’s not easy to go around the city. The closest train station is about 5 bus stops away. Worst thing, there’s only one restaurant nearby, a Subway – if that even qualifies as a resto. Wyndham Atrium is a slightly older hotel, but surprisingly a 4-star. Its age is showing on the carpets — faded and stained. But of course, it has its bright side too, the room is bigger, and the toilet is newly-refurbished. It’s spanking clean and the tiles look immaculately white during my stay. I investigated the rest of the room, checked the cabinets, and opened the TV to Arirang, while recollecting the panic and chaos that happend just earlier. I think the feeling of separation is getting bad; leaving is getting imminent.
After a few minutes, I opted to get refreshed and get myself some sleep.
It was a tiring first day. Sleep-deprived for 2 days. Confused. Anxiety lingers…