englishman abroad

Working freelance

When I first came to Germany it was due to a number of factors, some of which were economic.

I had finished my studies at Kingston University, London with a 2.1 and had noticed that the much-vaunted graduate schemes weren’t hiring. So I started working at a company selling properties, it went bust, and then a company selling advertising on the web, it had major redundancies, a restaurant which never opened, temp work that dried up or sometimes just didn’t pay! London is not a good place to be when the banks are in trouble.

I opened a newspaper one day and read about how Germany was no longer in recession. That was about seven years ago.

The best thing about working freelance is the opportunity to work for many companies at once and meet many interesting new people several times a week. In Dortmund I once had a client with a jamming problem which he solved by running the machine on a separate setting than stated in the manual (the manual was a Japanese translation and not very good, he explained).

A few weeks ago, here in Lower Saxony, I was teaching a client about how to describe cause and effect and solve problems in English:

“we have a problem in my department with the machines we use, they jam at fast speed.”

“really?” I said “what does the manual say?”

“it doesn’t help, it’s a very bad Japanese translation”

‘Gosh’, I thought, ‘this sounds familiar’

“can I see the manual?”

“it won’t help, it’s bad German and Japanese only!”

“please, let me see”

He shrugged his shoulders and showed it to me. Sure enough, it was the same line of machines that my old client in Dortmund had used.

“hmmm…. Yes…I think I’ve got it… have you tried running it on setting C? That’s what it says”

I came back this week and the machines work fine on setting C, the client thinks I’m some sort of language prodigy and all is good. I just hope he doesn’t ask for Japanese lessons…

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