Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oct 21 2010 | Shanghai: why do you have to be so argumentative?

i've already covered how i'm working really long days here in shanghai and don't have time to go out and explore much during this trip. today i'll share with my blogging audience what it's like to travel and work to closely with a coworker. when working 14-hour days together, it's hard to acquire distance.
friday we both work hard to wrap up final items for the trip. we stay late while you do me a huge favor of sketching the layout of a stage so i can give all the vendors an idea of what i'm imagining - despite all the years in art camp, my artistic skills have not progressed beyond a shoe phone and wooden jigsaw elephant. meanwhile i'm searching linkedin contacts for info you need for your presentation. saturday we meet up at the airport, everybody is happy and we board the flight to shanghai very optimistic. the big bosses are in the front of the plane, i'm in the middle, and you're in the back. weary but excitedly, we meet up at the end of the flight to plan the rest of sunday night in shanghai. we go out for drinks and appetizers with other coworkers from the same flight to kick off the trip and the weeks of meetings and events.

monday we agree to meet for breakfast at the hotel, then head to the office and sit in the back row during the kickoff meeting. i get invited to an authentic shanghainese lunch with some local and some US coworkers and invite you along. more meetings in the afternoon - this time we're in the front row. i'm focusing on the meeting and you're trying to catch up on other things. we get invited to dinner at an indian restaurant with mostly US coworkers. back to your room to continue preparations for the next day's meeting. after awhile of working away on our laptops, your side of the room is strangely quiet.... then i hear snoring, but it doesn't distract too much from my work. i'm on a roll here, don't want to have to restart things somewhere else. how long can i stay and work before it becomes creepy?

tuesday morning you knock on my door to invite me to breakfast. i ask you to head down and i'll be a few minutes behind, trying to download several large files for a presentation. head down to breakfast, but i can't find you. should i eat or wait? i feel guilty now because i sent you away. did i say we'll meet at your room? i wave at some coworkers in the breakfast lounge, should i sit with them? wait around for a few minutes, then head up to your room. knock on the door, cleaning lady signals with that 'she went thatta way' kinda motion. head down to breakfast and find you finishing up breakfast with other coworkers. were you there the whole time and i didn't recognize you? i eat quickly and we get to the office on time. full day of meetings, including takeout lunch from a fresh sandwich and smoothie bar. back at the office, my fresh fish panini grows cold while i'm trying to hold a conference call, you're laughing, eating yours, and having a loud and apparently hilarious conversation in the same room. after the conclusion of our day of meetings, we get take-out from the chocolately restaurant and take it back to your room while we keep working. you put on a bad hbo movie, i struggle to focus on my work, but keep persevering. at some point, you say you're going to take a bath. after no response but the sound of my keyboard, you add that means i should leave. i tell you i'll take a walk around the neighborhood because you never seem to want to or have the time. instead, i resume the work and bad movie in my room.

wednesday there's an early meeting at the office and, at my insistence, breakfast is provided: lox bagelwiches all around. today's meetings are not going well for me - which means i'm not getting the answers i need to be able to properly steer the presentations during the live event next week. on top of this, you need my help uploading files to our videographer and downloading files from the US server. and a coworker from singapore has laptop, ipad, and iphone problems. and the wifi spectrum and internet bandwidth in shanghai are saturated. and everything else that can go badly. at dinner time, a founder of our company invites a chief of the company who invites you, but you suggest i go instead as you have too much work to do. i had already promised dinner to our english-mandarin interpreter, who then ran into and made side plans with a coworker from beijing. you decide to join after all, and the 6 of us have a really fun time at a szechuan place. we go back to the office to pick up our laptops and stuff - the founder who had invited us said the dinner invitation would expire immediately - and end up staying at the office until past 11pm. i help you test an animation in different versions of powerpoint and you help me update the stage mock-up sketch.

thursday morning i had planned to work from "home" (the hotel across from our shanghai office has become my home away from home) and you were going in early to try to get ahead. you knock on my door at 8am and ask if i want breakfast. i quickly finish downloading more large files, grab my blackberry to multitask during breakfast, swing by your room, and we head down at 8:40. we spend the next 11 hours visiting venues for our upcoming events. at the first venue, the meeting erupts into a chaotic free-for-all as everybody talks at once and tries to get their concerns addressed first. i want to participate, but gravitate into a side discussion with a vendor until the cosmos returns to order. at the next venue, we need to visit the terrace, and i start to jiggle the doorhandle, but you warn that it's locked. i try anyway and you get upset that i didn't trust you, why do i have to be so damn argumentative? sigh. at the third venue, alcohol is served, thank goodness. at the final venue, you take charge and make executive decisions on the locations of various equipment. we're tired and don't have a good way to mark the floorplan right now. you bristle when i ask you to repeat the locations of your equipment so i can place my equipment in complementary locations. sigh. we have dinner with an event planner and another coworker who had just arrived from the US. i ask the others for sympathy because you've been on edge with me lately. it's hard to find somebody you can work with for 14 hours a day.


The other Olga said...

Hey, so what was the bad HBO movie??

Dave said...

The Limits of Control. Written/directed by Jim Jarmusch (Coffee And Cigarettes), but a very slow action drama.

Dave said...

dude, the voice you used in this last post is confusing and yet equally entertaining to me. What made you write today's blog in this fashion?

Dave said...

@dave Wow thank you, I'll take that as a huge compliment. i was exchausted and a little loopy. i think it was a therapeutic exercise, a sort of open letter to somebody i was struggling with. we have since made up, maybe it helped to get this off my chest :)