It is an early autumn morning, 5:30 on the dot, and my alarm clock rings loud enough to wake even trees. It might know why. Other Trainees wake up at a similar time. Why? Today after breakfast its no offices and production halls for us. We’re meeting at the Gate 11 and early in the morning we ride to the Kochánky town, where we are supposed to plant as many trees as we can within the CSR project “ŠKODA stromky” (ŠKODA trees). I hope we have an extraordinary day full of fun ahead of us, all in the fresh forest air.
All the Trainees are already used to the “German time” (means be somewhere latest on time). Unfortunately, our driver is not a Trainee. Doesn’t matter. Ten minutes delay will not spoil our fun. We’re boarding and the bus drives on. Where exactly? That’s the point. The place we’re going to does not have an exact address. The only indications we’ve received are GPS coordinates leading us somewhere in the middle of the forest. The investigation begins. We manage already on the second try to take the correct turn to a forest path that probably sees a bus for the first time ever. No wonder our destination has no specific address.
Despite looking like the end of the world, suddenly a nice chalet in the woods appears ahead of us. The mayor and several foresters are already waiting there for us. We get of the bus and surround the table with donuts. Good snacks are the part and parcel of every Trainee Round!
Man with a crate
While snacking, we were divided into two groups. I join the smaller one and we go to a close glade where approximately 300 oak saplings wait for us. „We’ll be done in no time,” I think. The initial training is done and now we know, how to make a proper hole in the ground, how to properly insert a sapling, and how then cover it up and pack the soil down. We can now recognize a dead tree from a live one, and we also know how a several months old tree looks like. Let’s go!
The work flows nicely, now it’s important not to burn out at the very start! Well, we didn’t manage. The more tired we get, the lower is our productivity, and we experience first-hand the necessity of rest during working hours the trade union fight so strongly for. When we are at the end of our rope, a miracle appears. A man with a crate! It is full of alcohol-free beer that gives us back our strength and enthusiasm. Refreshed we complete planting at the glade and move on to another one. Altogether we’ve planted several hundreds of saplings.
Hunger is the best cook
Smeared with mud and with hands full of calluses we’re returning to the chalet where the Mayor waits for us with a burning fire and, to the small displeasure of vegetarians, with yet another crate full of sausages. We can confirm that hunger is the best cook! Even the simple sausage with mustard becomes the best delicacy.
Tired but satisfied we board the bus again and it brings us back to Mladá Boleslav. Tomorrow morning I will be back at my office at the Lean Centre and will think about ways of including the ŠKODA production system into the process of planning new vehicles. In the morning I had expected “just” a day full of fun. In the evening I have to admit tiredly that it was a pretty hard work. But besides that it was also a day full of learning, deepening the relationship with other Trainees and, last but not least, we’ve aired out our heads nicely.
Ondřej Svatoš, Trainee
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