Sunday Column (237)

A lucky commuter week is behind me. I got a seat two days in a row and yet was away for two days this week. I sometimes think I am crazy to commute an hour into London, then another 30 minutes within London, to reach my place of work. I suppose it doesn’t bother me because I use the time on the train to read, catch up on videos and TV shows or write this blog. If I didn’t, I couldn’t do that daily commute. And this week I finished reading a book, caught up on TV and wrote the blog. Productivity!

What still beats me is that train companies charge a horrendous amount for my travel without giving me value for money. Using the only peak hour service from Hassocks to London Bridge this train is “standing only” unless you are lucky like I was this week. Crazy. I keep telling them and hope it changes eventually, yet the way it looks my company might have an office over in the West End of London, meaning I can use many of the Victoria line trains, before anything changes on the London Bridge services. Or maybe Farringdon….

So I continue to complain to both Southern Rail Services and First Capital Connect Trains, latter putting awfully old trains on for my journey home. The main challenge is that they won’t change and we, the commuters, don’t have any power to get them to change. We rely on the trains and don’t have a choice. We complain, won’t be heard, get frustrated, yet are helpless in the end.

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Germany also sprang to mind when I sat down to write this column. Firstly because trains are more modern, more on time (yet not in my experience) and somewhat empty when I use them. Yet, I have been standing on commuter trains before between Darmstadt and Frankfurt, and I have been thinking whether Germany’s infrastructure is really that much better? It probably is. I just don’t want to compare it any longer.

This week I went to the biggest European Online Marketing show, dmexco, in Cologne. A trip down memory lane as I visit this show, and it’s predecessor, for seven years now. A good trip to show my boss how different Europe is to the UK and what the European digital landscape looks like out there. He was impressed, we had amazing meetings and it was good to catch up with the industry that forms my home. A small industry. I love being part of it.

I feel ok about Germany too. My second trip within 10 days. I actually enjoy being in the fatherland. A trip to see friends, working on conferences, visiting exhibitions. Networking, meeting people and looking at how the country and it’s landscape has changed. I enjoy going back. I enjoy seeing my friends overcoming obstacles and doing well. I experience a different Germany compared to years ago.

I often get asked whether I could imagine returning home. The answer surprisingly would be ‘yes, if I have to’. The bureaucracy and ‘black and white’ thinking is a safety net I would enjoy in Germany, despite it would do my head in at the same time. The solid foundation of each business decision, the mulling over of decisions, the fear of lack of quality but no fear of failure, the aim to do really well….Germany is build on solid principles and measures. A productive society, a strong work force, a profound education system. However, I would be scared to come to political and social boundaries, limits to expand beyond my own means.

Re-reading the paragraph above I am not sure if it makes sense to everyone. You never know where life takes you. I spoke with an old friend of mine earlier this week suggesting one needs to ‘just go for it’. Unconventional. Taking the risk and trust that the universe, the karma, the greater unconscious, will be good to you. One needs to believe that things work out in the end.

I do.
I believe.

On that note, Colin managed to cycle without the stabilisers on his bike this week. Needless to say I am proud. Very proud. Seeing my boy grow up. Seeing him being proud of his achievements. It almost brought tears to my eyes.

Free falling. Jump off the cliff and trust in a soft landing.
Maybe with a parachute. Maybe not.

Have a lovely week.

Volker