Monday, 19th December 2005


The temporary SUMit office near the German border is deserted. The implementation of the Staff Planning System at SCA Gennep is running smoothly.

It has been a tough time to build this system over the last couple of months. Last week was no exception. The team has worked early, late and night shifts to get everything done. But it a job well done now and about time to let go some steam.

We'll print the sheets for tomorrow's training tonight. And data analysis of the reporting functions is not in a hurry till dark either. The laptops will welcome a break. We close this office for the moment, and cross the border, for a mini trip into the German Kleve.

Kleve, Germany

Oops, plenty of parking, but I do not have a parking clock. These Germans here are rather strict with their rules, so this situation is heading for trouble. So, what to do?
I'll draw one!
I run to the car behind me with a writing pad and a pencil, so I can copy that parking clock as an example. Pom, pom, pom, sketch, sketch, sketch, what a nice solution this is.

A German looks terrified as he approaches me. He owns that car and his parking time is over. Am I writing him a ticket? O dear, is that big fellow with his long coat examining my parking clock or what? It's about to be an extensive report about those few minutes over time. The man looks pale. The motto here is:

What is not allowed, can't be.

It takes my ultimate German language skills to explain that I am copying his parking clock. The German only hears his fear reinforced. O dear, he is copying my clock in every detail, including the expired parking deadline.

No I am using your clock as an example. I hope that would ease him down and continue drawing. O dear, o dear, o dear, thinks the German. The last thing I want is to be in the papers as the bad example of the week.

I am Dutch, don't have a parking clock. That is why I am copying yours, have a look, it is now ready:

The German looks full of amazement to my writing pad. This Dutch fellow must be mocking me. Come on mate, you can't be serious. Legal parking with a sketch? And how about the time? 16:10? That's two hours ahead! Bending the rules a bit is fine, but this Dutch bloke does not know where to stop with his paper clock.

Hey, but we are allowed to park here for two hours, aren't we? So, if we walk into town now, our "Ankunfstzeit" (time of arrival) will be in two hours, right? So we meet the Ankunftszeit easily, don't we?

O dear the German sighs. This Dutchy fails to understand our rules. He grabs his own clock and turns the time onwards till 14:10. That is now, as you just arrived in town. Now that's a Ankunftszeit. So, you've got two hours starting 14:10 to venture into town. As happy as a law obeying German can be, he puts his clock back into his car.

Now I understand why he panicked earlier on. This German is bending the rules, came walking back from town to forge his parking clock. And right at that moment there is someone thoroughly examining his expired clock. Caught in the act!

The man dives into his trunk and happily emerges with a second clock. I give this one to you! Solved, this Dutchman can park legally here. Merrily, promoted from rule-bender to law-enforcer, he walks back into town centre. There is nothing wrong with his Ankunftszeit.

Just draw what you want and receive it! Yes, how nice. It is just like the paper prototype for SCA Hygiene Products, which is a real system now.

Come on, now that we have solved our Ankunftszeit so well, we can head into town too. We've got two hours of time for a giant Kaffee mit Küche.

Till next Nut,