Sunday, 2 November 2014

Business trip in the sticks

Whenever I travelled in business, my destinations were always larger or smaller cities, but until last week I had never had to take a trip to the back of beyond. The destination will not be precisely divulged for obvious reasons, I can only reveal it was somewhere in Wielkopolska province.

The very idea that the New Factory has its own training centre (purchased back in early 1990s when the whole site was a dilapidated remnant of state-owned farm) makes a good alternative to paying for hotel / conference centre to hold in-house trainings, however if most attendants have to get to the remote facility from Warsaw, logistics becomes a nuisance, since you can get there directly virtually only by car which means if you don’t have a car, you need to rely on someone else’s lift or change means of transport several times.

The upside of the trip was the weather – although quite chilly and frosty at dawn, it still could be classified as clement – clear blue skies from dawn to dusk lift spirits at this time of year even in the absence of warmth. To the right – the only photo I will share which should not let anyone recognise the place (is the back of beyond easy to recognise?) – Wednesday, 7:42 a.m., a short stroll through the countryside just before a quick breakfast. Temperature of some –2C, frosty mists are lingering over undulating land (the anything, but plain landscape was a kind of astounding for me in that part of Poland), first rays of sun turn the hoar frost into dew, autumnal riot of colours pleases the eye of few beholders. Sight hard to be caught in Warsaw.

Now some little grumbling – I cannot say I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The workshops were fairly intensive. On the first day we set off at 10 a.m. and, with two breaks for lunch and dinner, finished at 9:30 p.m. Having woken up at 4:30 a.m. to drive to Warsaw and pick up three other participants I was prostrating in the evening. On the second day workshops kicked off at 8:30 a.m. and finished at 3:30 p.m. (with a half-an-hour lunch break). And the journey to Warsaw, three and a half hours spent behind the wheel, was ahead…

The trip has made me realise why it is wise to travel in business around the country by train. I used to think people choose to go by train because they can work in the meantime, instead of focusing on driving. The other reason I had in mind was that whenever your destination is in a centre of a town, you just quickly reach a train station, jump into a train and are on your way home. The recent trip added the argument when you are tired-out, it is no fun to drive 350 kilometres and take responsibility not only for yourself, but also for your passengers and other road users, all innocent human beings. Back in Warsaw, where traffic despite late rush hour was still dense I had to be damn careful making manoeuvres, mindful of my impaired judgement of situations of the road. I drove safely back home, but the very end of the journey has made be break sweat out of stress – something which has not happened to me behind the wheel since some three years.

The trips to the back of beyond will likely repeat so I will have to either get used to it, or desperately try to cadge a lift (too many folks do this). Getting there for a training / workshop kicking off in late morning would require me to get to Warsaw Central Railway Station, then take the service to Poznan (which is fast and reliable so up that point I do not mind it), then change for a service to a district now nearest to the back of beyond (they run every 30 – 40 minutes and the journey lasts around an hour), from there can I take either a taxi or a PKS bus. I would need to collect receipts or invoices for all services and then submit them to get the reimbursement. With a personal car the journey is door-to-door, does not involve waiting for trains and getting reimbursement takes a single slip of paper entitling to a payout covering cost of petrol and motorway tolls with a decent surplus.

Alcohol and speed are most often cited reasons of traffic accidents. But has anyone taken the trouble to count how many people lose their lives or are severely injured as a result of collisions caused by tired drivers? On this weekend when we bring back memories of our departed ones, it is also a good moment to rethink our habits behind the wheel, unless we want to join them too quickly.


Michael Dembinski said...

Train service to Poznań is good; corporate policy should be to take staff off roads and put them onto trains, many times safer.

student SGH said...

There are also several flights a day to Madrid, Spain. Parliament policy should take deputies off roads. Getting to the capital of Spain by car takes 26 hours of continuous driving, not to mention hundreds of litres of fuel burnt. Many times less room for abuse.