As I was mostly idling & moving only approximately 1 foot each minute, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the first couple of weeks I spent in London, England last September when I was about to start my new job over there with the company.
Although the company would be providing my accommodations, the furnished flat they had allocated for me required some fairly heavy plumbing repairs and as such, I could either live in this torn up apartment with its' 'periodic' running water or check into a hotel for a week or two until if was fixed.
Being that I was over there to actually make money (any hotel was going to be my own personal 'out of pocket' expense) for the first night I opted to stay in the apartment. This proved to be a very poor choice as not only did the plumbing not work, it began to bang and clang throughout the entire night. On top of this, apparently there was other work going on in the building all day and all night with workers coming and going. It was quite the nightmare for me.
The next morning, after having a total of 50 minutes sleep the night before, I set out to find a reasonably priced hotel room for myself. Well this proved a huge & impossible struggle.
There were tons of hotel rooms close to the office that were available however none of them were even remotely close to my price range and budget. It was impossible to find anything even considered to be reasonably priced, so I ended up shelling out huge dollars for just one night so I could at least shower, shave and clean up for my first day at the office.
I was always taught that you only have one chance to make a good first impression on people and I firmly abide by this rule. Being this was going to be my first day as the Senior Manager where I would have both managers and workers reporting to me, I thought it would be important to at least look somewhat human. That was the only motivation for handing over tons of cash to this greedy hotelkeeper for the one night. After that, I would probably return to my so-call luxury apartment as long as I could last and try to rough it out.
After making the rounds and introducing myself to everyone at the office, I headed over to the company cafeteria for lunch and had the chance to sit down with some of my new staff. I was complaining miserably about my living arrangements when suddenly one of the guys named Amesh, offered me a room in the apartment he was living in at no charge.
He explained that his brother had just left to return home to India and there was now a vacant room. Amesh, his wife and their 5-year-old son occupied the apartment. He explained that he knows how it is to be a foreigner in England and he would like to help as best as he could in order to make my stay here a 'contented one' as he phrased it.
Although somewhat leery of his offer, I realized that I had very few options open to me so I accepted only after insisting he take a daily allowance from me in order to ensure that I paid my own way. (this money would be nowhere near the hotel costs but it was my daily per diem that was around $125 US dollars). I wanted to be sure that as his direct manager, I was not accepting bribes or gifts that could potentially be viewed as inappropriate.
Once agreed upon, I moved my suitcases and myself into his modest apartment that was located approximately one hour from the office. I could never have rented a room like this on my own as I would have been hopelessly lost on London's' huge transit and underground metro system. Although apparently very organized, to a new arrival to the country it appeared to me nothing more than a huge & complex 'rats maze'.
Amesh and his wife were extremely hospitable to me and insisted that all my meals were to be included during my 10 day stay with them. They seemed truly grateful for the extra income and treated me like a king.
Amesh would leave the apartment and disappear each night at 9 PM and when I questioned him on it he seemed very reluctant to tell me at first. After a few days he finally admitted he had a part time job as a cook in some Indian Curry restaurant, where he did both the cooking and preparing of the food for the next day. He had been doing this ever since he arrived in London in order to make ends meet.
He continues to do it now, even though he has a full time job, more out of habit than actual financial need.
When I asked how he could manage both a full time job during the day as well as an additional 4 hours each night, he explained that this was no problem and that in his culture and back home in India working numerous jobs was the rule. Everyone did it. I certainly could not fault him on his work ethic as each morning without fail, he would be up, dressed and ready to go to work at 7:30.
when he was not working (or on the weekend) Amesh was kind enough to take me around London to show me the sites. We saw Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, Madame Tussands Wax gallery amongst numerous other things. His seemingly boundless energy combined with his easy going nature and kind hospitality still makes me look back at that short time I stayed with him and his family with great fondness.
Amesh was the first friend I made over in London and truly seemed to be one of the kindest people I have met throughout my life. I was actually a little sad when my apartment was finally repaired & I had to move out of his place.
Even after I moved out for the first few weeks I always made a point of inviting Amesh and his lovely wife and son out for a nice brunch each Sunday, on me. It was something we all kind of enjoyed and looked forward to each week.
Well each week until December when I had to fire his ass out of the company. (although I still prefer to use the British terminology of 'give him the sack' as it sounds so much more refined, although in reality - the net result is much the same)
Apparently my good 'buddy & pal' Amesh was completely useless at his job and had continually made so many errors in his work that his co-workers could no longer cover for him. I was hoping to write him up a formal warning however when I opened his personnel file for the first time, I could see he had been warned numerous times without any improvements whatsoever on his behalf. He had also previously been cited for sleeping on the job, missed deadlines, inaccurate reporting amongst a long & extensive laundry list of offences).
Bottom line I was transferred to get the London office in shape and anything or anyone who was not sharing this objective was of no use to me or the company. It was his reputation or mine, and I was in no position to play favourites.
I was told a couple months later that someone had heard that Amesh could not find work and his visa was expiring and he would need to move back to India. He was also going to lose his apartment.
I telephoned him to see if he needed some cash but I only got an answering machine each time. I left a couple of messages however there was no reply. I never heard from him again.
Not returning a mans telephone calls. What a Dick!
Suddenly I heard a car horn that snapped me out of all this reminiscing. The traffic ahead of me was now clear and I was able to continue to the office without any further delay.