Another week gone, but not forgotten

My supervisor is the general manager of our office.  As the man in charge and as one of the best bilinguals, he’s rather busy.  He’s constantly in and out of his office, taking phone calls, tasking people with things, and ensuring clear communication between those of us who can speak each other’s language as well as we’d like.  Since he has a lot more priorities than just me, I have a certain degree of freedom, and micromanagement seems to be the antithesis of how he run things.

My role at work so far has been to first understand the manufacturing process used in the in machine that we are buying, and then use that information to help design a small factory where it will be operating, hopefully 24/7.  Once that’s done, I’ll be in charge of changing the manufacturing process, as my supervisor has set a goal of running it as double its normal speed.  That will be difficult, but so far, I think it’s doable.  Most of my time at work is spent on my own, on my laptop, looking through files that have been send to us by the Czech company from whom we bought the equipment, and emailing them long list of questions.  They’ve been very helpful in getting us to understand the process, although it can be a bit slow going, since English is a second language to them.  I, meanwhile, am starting to pick up a few Czech words, at least the written versions, enough to tell me which files are most relevant.  It seems likely that I will continue working in this vein for my whole time here.  The factory is currently estimated to start operations about 10 days after I head back to the States, so it will be a little disappointing to work so long on something and not see it through.  Still, it’s an exciting and demanding project, and it’s already started to show me the practical applications of what I’ve learned in my courses.

Since I’ve been feeling sick the past week or so (but getting better now), I’ve haven’t gone out much, and so my personal experiences have been limited so far.  I did have one strange encounter at the grocery store, though.  While checking out, the cashier seemed concerned about the pack of 4 apples that I had selected.  When she got to them, she looked at me, and then called over one of the other workers.  After speaking to him in Chinese, he took the apples and left.  I stood there confused and silent as I tried to figure out what was going on.  The cashier continued taking care of the rest of my groceries without incident, and eventually the other worker came back with what (as far as I could tell) was an identical pack of apples.  Still confused, I paid the cashier and left.  It wasn’t until the next time I went there that I realized the apples had no bar code on them.  You had to weigh the apples yourself, and then the scale would print a bar code for you.  Overall, this was a simple encounter, but it made me realize how difficult it can be to navigate the world without the ability to talk to people.

b

My family was interested when I sent them this picture of bike sharing, earlier in the week, telling them that the number of bikes here had roughly doubled in 12 hours

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