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Your Best Travel Stories
February 2, 2011, 08:00 am EDT
For the month of February, we would like to hear from you on your best and worst travel stories while you are on business travel for SafeNet.
To kick it off for you, I've decided to recant my very colorful story from a trip I took to the CeBit Show in Germany back in 1996. Hopefully, after you read this, you won't be shy from sharing your travel stories-good or bad.
In 1996, I was asked to travel to the CeBIT conference in Hannover, Germany to run a demo of SafeNet’s latest amazing security breakthrough: SoftRemote (now HA Remote) connecting to a secure HSM, all managed by the SafeNet Security Center. Setting up the equipment was no easy task, complicated even more by international differences.
Aside from just the technical differences, I was nervous about traveling internationally. To ease some of my anxiety, I asked one of our sales reps, Jim, to help in the demo and setup, and had a colleague in Switzerland reserve my room. I was booked at a bed and breakfast in Hannover, while Jim had a hotel on the other side of the city with a group of reps from a distributor, CE.
Armed with enough power converters for the demo equipment and my personal electronics, I hopped aboard my first plane of the trip, a small puddle jumper from Baltimore Washington to Dulles, and landed ready to toss my cookies. Who knew I couldn’t handle small planes? I put it behind me, met Jim at Dulles, and we were off to Hannover.
Upon landing, we planned to share a taxi to my hotel, then Jim would continue to his, and later we’d meet to exchange our currency and head to the fairgrounds to get to work on the demonstration. As we took our taxi through the city of Hannover, the buildings became more and more run-down looking. We arrive at the address and Jim walks me in, but it was nothing close to a hotel.
There I was, standing in a woman’s two-bedroom apartment looking at the half of a room – separated by a large sheet from her teenage son’s bed – where I will be staying for the week. My "curtainless" window had a perfect view of the city. Jim wanted to rescue me then and there, but with no other option, he continued to his hotel with a promise to call ASAP.
By the time he called four agonizing hours later, I had showered (which flooded the tiny bathroom), attempted to blow-dry my hair (which blew out the electricity, even with the power converter), and was shown off to all the teenage son’s friends as the cool American girl staying in their house. Finally, Jim called back with good news – our reseller, CE, had a block of rooms and was able to move some people around to make room for me. I met the group and breathed a huge sigh of relief. They were nice, fun, and gave me a room of my own.
The next day, we finally made it to the convention center, after an hour-long drive with a man who adamantly hated Americans, and began setting up the demo equipment, but the Security Center workstation wouldn’t turn on. Hours later, we got a new workstation, customer support guided us through the installation and setup, and we were able to connect SoftRemote and the HSM. But, every time we think we’re ready to turn it on and test the demo, we blow out the electricity in the booth to shouts of “Shiza!” It took three tries before we found and solved the power conversion issues. After 20 hours, we could at least use part of the demo. We called it a day.
At dinner with the group from CE, I realize these people like to drink. A lot. I was so exhausted, I took as little punishment as politely possible, and put myself to bed. Even so, I woke up with a terrible cold. After a fifteen hour day getting the demo completely set up, my colleagues convince me that hot totties, an incredibly strong drink, will cure my cold. I woke up even worse, and added stomach distress to my list of complaints.
Because the show officially started, it took two hours to reach the convention center, all the while I was wishing the cornfields around me would produce a port-a-potty. Once we reach the convention center, our booth is about a mile through the fairgrounds. Walking that far, feeling that sick, all I wanted was to go to sleep, but I had to pull it together, put on a friendly face and demo SoftRemote all day until my replacement arrived and took over for the rest of the show. Apparently, I did too good of a job, and our reseller’s CEO requested I stay for the rest of the show. Flattered, but certain I could not survive the rest of the week, I politely declined. That night at dinner, I joined our colleagues for a final dinner, and quickly learned that the traditional send-off includes more familiar drinks and hot totties. Waking up at 4am to catch my flight back home was not easy.
I fell asleep on my first plane to Paris and woke up on the shoulder of my unknown row mate with drool dripping from my mouth. Finally, I hopped on a Boeing 777 bound for America and dreamt of getting back to the comforts of my own home. This is one trip I will never forget!
This entry was posted in Corporate Culture and tagged CeBit, Germany, HA Remote, Hannover, SafeNet, SoftRemote by Maureen Kolb. Bookmark the permalink.
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