In mid-June I’ve traveled to Helsinki through Riga to participate in this rather boring internal health and safety training. Well, if I’m completely honest with all of you out there, the training in itself wasn’t all that boring, and presenters did their best to make this training good, but… There is a huge ‘but’ – even though I know in my mind that HSE is important, and it helps save lives, health and all, I still find everything related to the subject yawn-worthy and extremely boring. Well, that’s just my luck as it seems. In almost every single job I ever had somehow I always end up being in one or another way responsible for the subject and matters of HSE. More so, when I was interviewing for my current position (which is not so great as I’ve learned by now, and not just because of the boring and unwanted HSE part), I was clearly told by the manager that the company has HSE matters fully covered, and that they won’t require me to be involved in the subject but for a few translations now and then to make group policies and other materials available in local language.
Alas here I am – not the sole responsible person for the HSE in the company, but still involved more than I’d like to be, and that pisses me off greatly. Damn.
During my career I’ve seen plenty of corporate meetings and training sessions, but this one was different from the very start. First of all, none of the participants were given an agenda for the event prior to its start. Strange and unusual though it seemed, the goal of the organizers, as it was revealed eventually, was to prevent participants from coming ‘too prepared’. And it sort of worked pretty as none of participants knew what the training was going to be about in more detail and thus none could happily just to daydream or drowse to the end.
So I’ve spent a day and a half in this hotel conference room learning things I did not really want to learn, and was almost literary killed by the fact that the agenda of the said training was so tight there was literary no time between training session and compulsory evening/lunch parts to get out for a half an hour of fresh air. Ah, if only I’d have known that this was just the top of an iceberg!
The first clue to what was yet to come was the fact that on the second day the training session was wrapped up quite early in the afternoon, like around 2 p.m., and we – me and my manager with whom I came to the training – came to realize that there was way too much time to kill until the flight Helsinki-Riga would take us homeward bound. If I were on my own, I would have used those extra 3.5 hours for some shopping or sightseeing, but being in tow with the manager, I sort of had no choice but to follow the lead and ended up spending hours and hours at the airport with no book to read and only a smartphone and a free Wi-Fi access at the airport to keep me from shooting myself with a loose door handle out of sheer boredom.
After long hours of waiting finally the time for boarding has come and we hurried to the gate only to learn that our flight was delayed by half an hour. This would not have been much of a problem if it were a direct flight, but since we had to transfer to another one at Riga airport and the layover between flights was that of half an hour, this made for an ‘oh, no’ moment. The crew of the plane really did their best to catch up for the lost time, but as soon as we landed in Riga bad news became even worse. Our connecting flight to Vilnius has not yet departed and those who were fast to the gate could still see the plane attached to the boarding gate, alas we were denied access to the plane since we were to the gate like 5 minutes past the time for ‘gate closing’, and the lot of twenty something passengers could do nothing but watch the plane leave without us on board.
By the time everyone gathered at the AirBaltic ticket counter, tensions grew and people were getting real angry. Judging from the comments of some other unlucky fellow passengers from Helsinki flight, I’ve learned that it’s not so uncommon for AirBaltic not to wait on their own delayed flight even if for not all that much of a delay, and that some of people already have tasted more than once during their travels that buying a plane ticket not necessarily means one is going to actually fly. Seems that coming on time sometimes is an issue with them, but they never fail to provide a bus on such cases, and our bus was like ready at the moment we’ve reached the airport AirBaltic ticket counter, as if they were pretty confident Helsinki-Riga flight was to be delayed for much longer time, either they were never even intending on waiting on us in the first place, or whatever.
While some of the left-behind passengers seemed eager to fight for their rights, and willing to dig their heel deep and stand their ground to the very end, all I wished was to get moving, get to that damn bus and start rolling home.
It was almost 9 p.m. when the lot of us has finally departed from Riga to Vilnius on the bus. Instead of a relatively short flight Riga-Vilnius, I was now facing a more than 4 hours long bus trip to Vilnius, and having sat doing like nothing for the greater half of the day, I did not feel very happy about being robbed of these extra hours of my time. But at least with every turn of the wheels I was getting closer to my destination.
I love Latvia. I love its many castles and so similar yet a bit different nature from that of Lithuania. I like people of Latvia, even those surly and unsmiling, since it’s just like being at home there and yet not. I even am already planning to visit a couple of spots in Latvia this very summer. But on that never ending day I really could not wait but to get out of Latvia as soon as possible, and signs marking the Latvian-Lithuanian border were like the best thing I saw that day and inwardly I cheered and punched the air. Looks like home, smells like home, it must be home, even if the actual home was yet hours away.
There is a saying that thy neighbor’s grass is always greener, but like for once I could not disagree more. The grass is always greener on the other side, only this time I thought it was greener on the ‘right’ side of the border.