I have finally come out of an 18 month hibernation and got back on the road which feels great. In the last 2 weeks I have been to London, Dublin, Frankfurt and Vienna for face to face meetings with clients and colleagues, and the experience of seeing body language, group dynamics and new protocols at first hand has been fascinating and so rewarding. The behaviouralists and anthropologists have a new sandbox and will have a field day studying these interactions.
Passing through all the borders and checkpoints to board planes and check into hotels, it occurs to me we have created a new industry, a bit like airport screening since 9-11, which now employs millions of people and requires some seriously expensive technical kit. And the parallels of inconsistency in application of the rules are also remarkable. Shoes off or on, computers out or in, liquids ( which in my experience have included Camembert, fois gras) and my favourite memory of a highly strung Spanish woman who slapped the bag checker across the face when he confiscated her very expensive 100ml perfume which was half empty so technically 50ml!
My EA co-ordinating with her colleagues in our Frankfurt and London office spent a full day checking the cross border travel regulations with guidance from our travel agent. I have seen over 30 email exchanges as they tried to navigate the complexities and inconsistencies, PCR tests and validity of vaccines and certs, and quarantine rules to the point at which I was about to cancel the trip and retreat back into my virtual world.
I am glad I did not and since we are a small and dynamic firm we can take more risks than a large corporate who I suspect would have not taken the chance with their senior executives. And the great pity is that international trade and investment transactions have been seriously curtailed and delayed by our inability to move around freely and without additional expenses and uncertainties. It was so refreshing to meet in person senior executives from Austrian business in the UK ambassadors residence in Vienna and dispel a few myths that Britain has cut its self off from the world.
But here’s the best bit. Since I departed from Dublin last Monday on Ryanair the only person who has asked to see my COVID cert or any related documents (and I have a briefcase full) was a waiter in a smart restaurant in Frankfurt. Perhaps that’s the point: my time and money has already been spent on all the kits, paperwork and compliance. There is nothing more to gain from checking. Super spreader or super sceptic. What am I?