Eat and work

To eat or not to eat, that is the question. I have worked for a while in Brussels. There I experienced a new way of doing business.

At that time I was having a role as project manager. Big deal?! nah, just make sure you get the right people, clearly set goals, and results, getting the right amount of financial resources, and a good plan.

So how about this new way of doing business. Well, it’s a good lunch! During lunches business was done. During lunch you got to get agreement on things. You can safely state that food and drinks is the lubricant to get the business done and appointments, to match. Then a deal becomes a deal. I never thought and expected that after so many years as a newly reintroduced person into working life, this way of doing business and labor still applied. But in another country. Here’s the story.

One of my daily working arrangements is making furniture. This ranges from a ladder, shelves, doors to cabinets and tables.

The piece of furniture we made, is requested by the residents. The products are recorded on a list. Product title, house number, date of acceptance, sizes, product acceptance, and deliverydate. It’s like an working list and planning.

The delivery principle is fifo (first in first out). There are however, residents who want to get busy with the piece of furniture where they asked for, and that is also encouraged. These get assigned a higher priority. The piece of furniture is made together with a volunteer.

I manufactured a few pieces of furniture of which 2 are also delivered. What remains are 2 cabinets. One for in a shower and one for in the living room. Each request will be handled as a project. At location you determine what a resident wants. That on its own is a challenge, given the situation we do not speak the same language. Next we measure and see how we can mount the product eventually.

A design is, if it is not already there, being made. The design is also determined by the building materials which are available. The materials are pallets, scrap wood, used insulation boards and MDF plates and used beams. There are no financial resources for material to buy.

Along with Bjorn, Stefan and Astrid (volunteers) we went to work and have 2 cabinets created. Also nice to see how the young volunteers learn to work with tools and think about construction, design. We couldn’t mount the cabinets yet because the only drilling machine was in repair. But Friday 8 March was the time:-) to get tings going. Up, up and away to the residents with the cabinets and tools, bolts and a level.

The cottage is a container of I think 3 x 10 meter. 3 rooms, a kitchen / dining area, a living / sleeping area and a bathroom. This puts the idealistic and minimalist trend of tiny houses in Netherlands, in a very different perspective.

We were warmly welcomed. Shoes off, and both got a pair of slippers at our disposal. The shower was still wet. We started measuring, and mounted the first shelf carrier.

But then, … we were invited to share a meal. The questions rose if it was ok to refuse. We stil had a lot of work to do. We did accept the invitation, with the request that we first were allowed to confirm the first shelf carrier.

That was ok! Later I ask Sana (coordinator) if it would have been an insult, if did refused sharing their meal, to which she confirmed. So I am glad that we had accepted it.

Flatbread, wrapper, chicken, fries (fried in (co)old oil), stir-fried spinach (too salty), and salad was served. And drinkable yogurt from a huge 3gallon bucket as a drink. (very salty yogurt). Apart from the high salt content, the meal itself is ok. The company, being together, talking, made the meal and the concept of sharing perfect! The yogurt though was not so my thing. I have to say that everything was very nutritious.

We shared pictures so I showed one with my brothers having a meal.  Bjorn asked later whether the men always eat separately of the women. And they do. During the meal we have tried to find out much about origin and family. It’s a BIG moment of sharing.

After the meal we went to the living room to drink tea. We were shutting down of the meal, but it seemed as if here at tea we had to do some business and the only appointment we made was that we had to come back Monday and finish the whole thing. In the end it was a quarter to four and we had to pack up. The net result was so 1 shelf carrier mounted. On Monday a new day!