Like a Business Trip Virgin – Expensed for the Very First Time

This is Zurich. To find out why you’re looking at a picture of Zurich, you’ll have to keep reading.

I realised this morning I have nothing left to stress about. What on earth am I going to do now? I can’t remember how one acts when one is sane and composed and dare I say… happy?? Well, I’m sure I’ll muddle through. Life’s bound to go pear shaped sooner or later.

So September’s come and gone. That happened. I passed my Life in the UK test, I went to Italy to check out real estate, I survived going to London to (attempt to) take photos for a friend’s wedding and got back just in time to post off my UK residency papers. Stress, stress and more stressssssss. I also had two job interviews in there somewhere. One I didn’t get because I don’t have Edinburgh experience in answering a phone, writing down what the person tells me is broken and organising someone to repair it – but he thought I was terrific and if he had time to train me on answering the phone, writing down what the person says and organising the repair person, I would have been a shoe-in.

Oh hey, wait a minute, there is something to stress about – I’ll be unemployed again in three weeks. See, told you. Oh, that feels better.

Anyhoo, being stress free today reminded me of the time I went to Zurich for a week with work in 2011. If you’ve never been, and for me coming from London (where I lived then), the absolute calm of Zurich is friggin’ eerie. No, it’s pungent. It gets up your nose and makes you screw up your face and think “what the hell is that?”

On the plus side, my stomach miraculously behaved itself the entire week. Having to sit in a deathly quiet office with three senior managers is normally enough to have it perform an aria of gurgling and suspect eruptions, brought on just from the fear of that deathly quiet, never mind what I chose to put in my mouth that day. But to my utter amazement, not a peep. It was the first time I started to see a link between my gut, my head, and how much a city can affect your stress levels.

But anyhoo, I digress. Here’s a little ‘diary’ I wrote while there. I dug this out because I’m lazy, I mean busy, and I haven’t written anything on my poor blog for so long. Millions and bazillions of readers are bound to be wondering if I’m alive, or if I’ve discovered God and moved to the Amazon to spread his word to some unknown jungle tribe. Actually I did discover God and I am spreading his word – on Twitter.

Just for some background, the reason I was sent to Zurich was to gather space management statistics for a week, to help them configure the floor plan of a new office being built next door. In other words, I walked into every office and counted empty desks twice a day, then wrote the numbers down. Obviously such lowly grunt work was beyond the three senior managers whose office I wrote these figures down in, so the most cost effective solution was to fly someone from London to do it, put them up in the Marriott for a week and pay for their meals. That, by the way, is most certainly not a complaint. 

Day 1.

Zurich greeted me with dark, cold, wet, fog filled streets. Beyond that, I could see through to the chocolate. Colour me fat, I’m in choco-heaven!

I found the old town and somehow ended up in a kebab shop. My version of being adventurous was to order the veal kebab, but it had some kind of hot sauce in it which blow-torched my taste buds. So I could have been eating walrus for all I know. Not that they have them here I think, walrus? Walruses? Walri?

Day 2.

Went to work. Counted empty desks. Marvelled at the immaculately clean kitchens and bathrooms.

I’ve noticed something extraordinary. Zurich has no riff raff. Everyone is neat, tidy and well behaved. There is no pushing, no shoving, and no cutting queues. It’s such a breath of fresh air. Oh and there’s that too.

I always manage to get at least one bike shot into any trip I take. It's a strange hobby, but it's much less time consuming than train spotting.

I always manage to get at least one bike shot into any trip I take. It’s a strange hobby, but it’s much less time consuming than train spotting.

Day Three.

Went to work. Counted empty desks. Marveled at the immaculately clean kitchens and bathrooms. Set off an alarmed fire exit.

I decided tonight to embrace the horror of dining alone at a restaurant, not because I’m independent like that, but because I was craving a decent meal. I had a notepad and pen though, so I could write in them like an important business traveller person, not some lonesome loser. I celebrated my fabulousness with an alcoholic beverage.

I can’t remember what happened after that. Suffice to say I have a new tattoo I can’t read. Does anyone speak Swiss?

Here's the outside of the Zurich office. Pretty yes? Much better than your regular glass and steel box.

Here’s the outside of the Zurich office. Pretty yes? Much better than your regular glass and steel box.

Day Four.

Went to work. Counted Empty desks. Found a small drop of liquid soap on the counter in a bathroom. Wiped it up to prevent the beginning of Armageddon.

I had another dinner alone, and you know what, the world is full of single eaters. There’s no stigma. The secret is to play with your camera or write on postcards. Ahhh postcards. You remember them, they were how people communicated before Facebook or Twitter, but one friend at a time, with a pen, you know, through the post… oh nevermind.

With nobody to talk to, dinner was over in 25 minutes. Two glasses of white wine in that short space of time had me strutting down the main shopping strip plugged into my I-Pod. At one point, I came dangerously close to skipping, but Neil Diamond will do that to you won’t he?

And here's the inside. Noice.

And here’s the inside. Noice.

I bought about 82 kilos of chocolate and went back to the hotel. Katy Perry was singing about fireworks. “Boom Boom Boom. Even brighter than Moon Moon Moon.” What a poet. Such pop-tastic lyrics, don’t you agree? What’s that? How much have I had to drink? Just some wine. Why? What are you trying to say?

Alcohol tends to steal time like it steals your youth. At some stage there was a beer in the hotel bar. Then came cocktails with the visiting London bosses. Then came 3am.

We all know Switzerland does good chocolate, but seriously, I'm telling you now, Switzerland does gooooood chocolate.

We all know Switzerland does good chocolate, but seriously, I’m telling you now, Switzerland does gooooood chocolate.

Day Five.

Went to work. Counted Empty desks. Couldn’t care less about the kitchens and bathrooms. Has anyone got some Panadol?

It seems the city was to leave me the same way it had greeted me. Three days of sunshine were washed away to a distant memory with so much rain, by the time I got to the office I looked like I’d been fly fishing for breakfast. I attempted to function but I must have stuck out like a salad dodger at an all you can eat buffet; everyone seemed to know what I had been up to.

Mercifully I was able to leave mid-afternoon for my flight home. To balance that small blessing, the universe sat me next to a guy whose breathing sounded like a slow leak in an inflatable beach toy, magnified through a megaphone.

Most excitingly, and not just because I was cold, wet, tired, grumpy and hung over, it all finished with the thrill of seeing a man waiting beyond the silver doors with my name on  a card, ready to drive me all the way home.

Ohhhh. I take back my previous smart arse jibe. Over the top, unnecessary business expenses rock.


I didn’t get much time for sight-seeing. But I did snap the Fraumunster Church (literally: Women’s Munster) complete with requisite Zurich clock tower.


4 thoughts on “Like a Business Trip Virgin – Expensed for the Very First Time

  1. Well don on the residency score, that should help ground you somewhat.

    Having travelled on my own finance and on the boss’s finances I also prefer the boss to finance it.

    What about the chocolates, were they nice?

    Can you now say, since you don’t work there anymore what company that was?

    On the broo again soon, unless you learn how to take a call I guess.

  2. Hey Bardon. Well I’ve still got to wait to hear if I’m accepted into the club, so I guess I’ll be quietly stressing till the passport comes back no doubt. The chocolates were orgasmic. The shop is called Laderach (there’s supposed to be two dots above the first A, but stuffed if I know how to do that on this keyboard) I bought the slabs you can see in my shot, all different flavours and sent some to Oz and and ate the rest myself. I spent £100 on chocolate. I would seriously plan a couple layover in Zurich on a flight just to get some too. It’s that good. And let’s just say the company was one of the big 4 accounting firms. Nice and ironic that, in the middle of a recession!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s