Saturday, June 07, 2003

Dealing with my issues through foreign travel

A few years ago, in the course of my employment, I had a mindblowingly ghastly boss. This man had been promoted way above his level of competence, and had no idea whatsoever about the workings of a financial model he was supposed to be an expert on.

This was one thing, and if he had simply kept out of my way and let me do the work, I could have lived with this. The trouble was that he had no idea how incompetent he was, and thus spent his entire time instructing me to do things that were dumb, pointless, and wrong. Worse than that, he was the sort of person who feels the need to talk to you all day, so while I was trying to do the job properly and do enough of his pointless tasks to make him civil, he was spouting unbelievable crap at me all day long. It was mindblowingly awful.

In any event, I once commented that working with me reminded me of what Adolf Hitler had said about meeting with General Franco: that it was like going to the dentist. Working with this moron was, for me, like having to go to the dentist all day long. My very unimaginative workmates were totally unimpressed by this observation, but were actually sympathetic towards me.

In any event, I yesterday caught the Euskotran train from San Sebastian to Hendaye, just over the border with France. I would have liked to have gone further to St Jean-de-luz, but the French were all on strike, which made this difficult. However, I got out and walked around the SNCF station in Hendaye. It so happens that this railway station is where Hitler and Franco actually met on 23 October 1940, after which Hitler made that comment about Franco and dentists. Next time I have an appalling boss, I at least have a better story to tell.

Of course, people who commemorate historical events don't feel the need to put up plaques commemorating infamous events, so there is no way of knowing that this meeting took place there from looking at the railway station. The waiting room was full of American college students hoping that they would somehow be able to go to Bordeax some time soon. I was tempted to point out that Adolf Hitler had once stood probably a few feet from where they were standing and that thinking about this would maybe make the wait go faster (or not), but managed to resist the temptation.

In any event, I walked over the bridge back into Spain. There are now no customs or immigration controls of any kind: you just walk across the bridge. I then walked from the modern border town of Irun to the older border town of Hondarribia: a gorgeous little walled town. Eventually I heard some music coming up some steps, and walked down to find a nice little bar filled with twentysomething studenty types. I had a couple of beers and a very pleasant baguette filled with all manner of interesting fillings. In all, a good evening.

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