The Real Germany

My last trip to Germany was one of my better trips out there.  I had a couple of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that this job sometimes affords me; I saw Amsterdam, an amazing city, and Carnival in Koln which was a truly unique experience, and an experience I almost certainly never would have had if it wasn’t for working on lasery-measurey thingies.

But, those experiences added up to exactly 3 of the 22 days I spent working and travelling.  And whenever I post about the lighter side of my job, I get messages from all sorts of people telling me how jealous they are, and how awesome my job must be.  I’ll be the first to admit that yes, those aspects of my job are wonderful, but it comes with a price.  That price being the 19 days of getting my ass kicked in a power plant that dominated the trip as a whole.

As always, the work is hot (it was around 120 degrees in our area), dirty and just generally uncomfortable.  The ceilings above where we installed our sensors at one plant were 6′ on the dot.  I’m right about 6’5″ with my boots on, so that was fun.  The other plant at which we worked was an outdoor facility.  The good news is that it wasn’t hot; the bad news is that we had to work outside in February.  The car said it was 6 degrees F on one of the two days we worked there.   It was a tough few weeks to say the least.

Anyway, here’s a look at the real Germany I saw, and what I spent the vast majority of my time doing while I was out there.  I apologize in advance about the quality of the pictures, these are blackberry photos, not actual photos.

The power plant at which we spent 15 of our 20 days in Germany.

A little power plant manicure I gave myself. Chopped the tip of my fingernail right off. Hurt like hell. Probably should keep my fingers clear of moving parts.

Power plant first aid. Band-aids and electrical tape.

Sunset at the plant. This was a good day, we usually called it a night well after the sun went down.

Glendo hard at work running power to one of our cabinets.


Our 'office' for two weeks.

The big-ass boiler on which we installed our lasery-measurey thingy. I don't know if the picture does it justice. It's not quite 500' tall.

Ok, no power plant. But this is me walking home from dinner. Alone. In the rain. On Valentine's day. It's a pretty lonely lifestyle. Cue the violins.

Well, there's your problem right there. One of our tools was malfunctioning which left us with dozens of loose wires like the white and orange wires in this picture. We ended up having to examine all 480 of these little guys in our system. That's a pretty fun way to spend a day in Europe.

Believe it or not, there's a lens under all that mud and dust and crap. These things need to be kept immaculate. So we also got to clean 30 of these guys, twice.

And cleaning them was not a fun process. We used high-pressure air lines to blow out all the dust and crud. Here's what I looked like afterwards, that sweatshirt is brown, or it used to be anyway. It was pretty bad, I came down with a nasty cough and sore throat about a day later, and I don't think it was a coincidence.

The plant again, on another foggy day.

And finally, a sticker in the bar we frequented. Something tells me my esteemed colleague was missing home and had something to do with this...

So that’s it.  That’s the real Germany I see for the vast majority of my time over there.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware of how lucky I am to have the opportunity to visit Europe on someone else’s dime, but I spend a helluva lot more time in hotel rooms, airplanes and power plants than I do wandering the streets of Amsterdam.

Until next time,

-B. Littleton


Filed under The Sights, The Sights of Europe, The Work

4 responses to “The Real Germany

  1. Glen Kelley

    It was nice for me to bring peanut butter and band aids….

  2. The sunset over the plant is strangely beautiful. You put a whole new perspective on Germany.

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