Jill's 04-09-07 Update       04-09-07: parse the dutchie

I'm at my first consulting client site.  I am the only person here in this room who does not speak Dutch.  I know they're not talking about me, but lordy, it's hard not to be 3% paranoid.   (No need to respond with the fairly obvious reference to "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not actually out to get you."  I know, I know.)

At one point they were talking at 1,000-MPH and I heard my name interjected. I raised an eyebrow and looked at them with my usual playfully suspicious glance... and they stopped talking and grinned at me. I said, "I'm sure you were just talking about what a lovely person I am." And strangely, after that, they talked a whole lot more in English. I mean, not fer nuthin', but how am I supposed to contribute to the project if they're talking in Dutch? Silly people.

I need to learn Dutch, and then not tell anyone that I know it. Hmmmmm. I wonder if they make Berlitz courses I can stick on my iPod?

Speaking of paranoia, I can't help but be a little saddened re: how non-chalantly VPs make layoff decisions.  Most of my client's employees have worked for the company for many years, and I just wish I could tell these leaders that outsourcing rarely is the magic fix-all elixir they think it is.  What you save in salaries/benefits are re-spent a-zillion-fold in other ways... mostly for surgical foot-from-mouth removal and LASIK for hindsight-o-vision.  I understand businesses want to save money, and I understand that they have shareholders to keep happy, and I understand that when you work for a company there are no promises made as to how long you'll be there.  I get that... business is business.  But it still stings.  Especially when the folks from India aren't cutting it quite the way you were hoping they would and you decide to bring everything back in house after 18 months (hello, Dell?), who do you call to fill those old new US-based positions?  The folks you just laid off (read: The ones who slashed your tires 18 months ago)?  I think not.

I think I drank a glass of Social Retard at my folks' house last night, because since my arrival to Union Beach I am suddenly the shy, awkward idiot who has nothing to say. At one point I found myself compulsively checking my phone and excusing myself for the bathroom in an effort to have something to do.  Damn!  I just keep thinking, "Yerp... I  got nuthin'."   I'm not sure if it's the cultural thing, or if it's because they're always freakin' speaking Dutch, or what... but I feel like somebody stole mah mojo.  Very odd. Hopefully this will pass.

Let the record state that I have done nothing at all today except drink coffee and eat protein bars and get schlepped around in Lincoln Towncars.  Someone is paying $1300 per day for me to do nothing.

Anyway, my boss, Tim (he's American) warned me that the Dutch are very blunt, and that some Americans get freaked out and/or offended by it. I assured him I could handle it... I'm from Jersey, after all.   Well, I will say one thing: I like their bluntness in business situations, but in public they are like a 4-year olds who blurt out stuff like, "Gee, that lady is FAT!" without lowering their voices. Honestly-- we were at dinner the other night and they made loud notice that everyone in the restaurant was overweight. Amazing.

I really like working in NJ though. There is a sense of comfort here that I am very surprised to feel, honestly. I communicate much easier with them. Is it wrong that I like when my client casually drops the F-bomb in a meeting?

Random: My client produces flavors and plant essences, so their screen savers feature perfect photos of fresh ginger root. It is making me hungry.

In other news... I got my plane tickets for the IJG-Bakersfield-to-Amsterdam-shuffle all figured out.  There are so many opportunities for airport screwups (lost baggage, delays, missed connections) that I'm going to have to drink myself into oblivion just so I don't freak out that my crap isn't going to arrive.  Blargh.  I should look into efficient packing in hopes that I can be away from home for 8 days living out of one carry-on.   This will be tricky, since I need to not only pack performance clothes, but I also need work clothes, my laptop, and then walking-around-the-city clothes.   Maybe I can see if Matt can throw some stuff in his checked bag, since his bags only have to get directly from Philly to Amsterdam. Mine would have to get from Bakersfield to Phoenix to Philly to Amsterdam... that's waaaay too much room for error.

But whee!  I am so excited that Matt is coming with me on my grand adventure to Holland.  It makes me really happy to see him rockin' out to the band.  Now if I can only keep him from spending all his extra cash on hookers and weed...  :-D

Anyway, next week is my 36th birthday, and it looks like I'll be spending it in Chicago. I'll be observing a class in preparation to teach it soon; Marc V. will be the instructor.  Marc is this Flemmish dude (send that man some Mucinex!) who is riotously funny, but mostly because he is grumpy and a bit intimidating.  I never, ever, ever want to be on his bad side, lemme just put it that way.  Coincidentally, he was my ITIL Practitioner instructor when I took that class in Vegas, and now he'll be teaching me how to teach it. I'll also be sitting for the test.. no pressure.  Kinda fun.  I'm staying at the Club Quarters again (love!) and I am planning on ordering 8917397 libbs of Thai food.  Rock rock rock rock rock!

OK, I'm outta here.