Two weeks have passed by in just a blink, and I’ve barely gotten to write about it. Although it doesn’t seem like it, I was sent to London to do some actual work, so most of those first 14 days were spent within the Canary Wharf office.
My first day to report to work was still vivid in memory. I remember waking up and seeing the clock say 4:35 am, yet when I glanced outside the window, the sun was already at its full glory. What the heck…? I was so sure that I set my watch to the wrong time and that I was going to be late on my first day, but no one really sent out the search dogs yet for a clueless lost Filipina in the premises. I figured that I wasn’t dreaming, so I simply passed the time ironing clothes and surfing the net — the sun was bright and shiny, what could I do?
The office was literally a five minutes walk from where I stayed, so I managed to achieve something I could never do in the Singapore office — come to the office an hour early. My manager fetched me from the office lobby and gave me a mini-tour of our office floor, which was to be my nook for the next two weeks.
The first teammate I met was Ben — who, I tell you, is truly one of the coolest guys you can ever know. He gave me the lowdown as to where to get & NOT to get coffee in the office, and it didn’t hurt that he gave me a copy of one of his favorite books, ‘A Game of Thrones’ before I left (I still blame you for all the sleep I lost because of that book, though! =P). A few minutes later, the people started to trickle in, and I got to meet my other teammates, Darren & Kate. Darren was the type of guy who never ran out of trivia and funny anecdotes; Kate, our team’s youngest, was equally awesome (she went out of the way to watch HP7.2 with me, and and oh, did I mention she can bake?!).
For the first few days in the office, I swear I was like a geeky starstruck teenager, as I gushed to introduce myself to the actual people behind the names in my office email and instant messenger. As mentioned, unfortunately, they actually expected me to work every day, but I have to say that most of the warmest moments I’ve had so far in London was when I was hanging out with these guys. They had the warmest smiles, treated you like an old friend, and made sure you had something fun to do after work. In London, that would mean pubbing, and I certainly am not the last one to warm up to that.
It was interesting to note the names of the pubs I’ve seen so far — The Dog & Duck, Rum & Sugar, The Cat & Canary — they told me the naming wasn’t mandatory, but the pattern certainly pops out,. My teammates had me try the local ales, which I eagerly took. Thinking back, maybe I shouldn’t have been that eager for the (in)famous Sambuca shots as well; my teammates had to made sure I made it back safely to the apartment after just 2 shots. Ack.
After work, when I can, I would wander off from Canary Wharf to places like Oxford Circus and Harrod’s for some blitz shopping. I would have gladly have skipped sleep to do that everyday; however, at most nights I felt like I was doing less shopping and more sparring with the freezing cold night winds. It was generally weather vs. Ish — weather wins.
My new-found office friends rounded up the guys and threw a goodbye drinking spree/party before my last day, which I found sweet. We must have been in one of the more popular after-work hangouts — there were so many people in suits, I felt I was in a trading floor! The beers and shots just kept coming, and it was great to just see everyone let loose and have fun, especially for the newbies in my team who had to endure two whole weeks of my gabbing during our training sessions. With everyone swapping stories and smiles, it felt like my own McClaren’s experience.
This post goes out to the London Environments team — I know you’ll probably forget much of what I taught during our training sessions, but that doesn’t really matter. I’ll never forget the fun times and warmth you shared with me! Cheers!