Dark bus

The engineers at the US OEM had worked long and hard developing their new automated production system, and the management of the company was delighted when their efforts were recognised by a Chinese manufacturer who placed a lucrative order for the system.

But, as impressed as they were by its capabilities, the Chinese folks realised that they would need the experience of the US engineers to commission the system. So, as part of a financial deal between the two companies, several of the US engineers were tasked with the responsibility of flying to China to install the system and to train the Chinese operatives in its use.

The engineers who were chosen for the job were very enthusiastic about the trip. Many of them had never been to the country before and the opportunity to sample its culture was a prospect that they were looking forward to, so it was with great fervour that they boarded the plane to China with their work permits in hand.

After spending what seemed like an eternity in the air, they finally arrived at the arrivals terminal of the airport in China, where they were greeted by an amicable representative from the Chinese company, who led them to a large bus to take them to the facility where the system was to be installed.

It was a peculiar-looking bus, that’s for sure. Unlike most buses in the US, it was divided into two discrete sections − a front part that housed the driver and a back part for the Chinese company representative and the US engineers. Even more unusual was the fact that it was impossible for the occupants in the back to see anything out of its darkened windows.

The engineers were disappointed that they would not be able to catch even a glimpse of the Chinese countryside as they motored on to their destination, but they were only too pleased to disembark from it after a long two-hour journey, after which they set to work to commission the system and to train the Chinese personnel in its use.

With the work completed in less than a day, the engineering team was fed a glorious meal of local Chinese delicacies and presented with some small presents as a gesture of friendship from their Chinese hosts. Then it was back inside the darkened bus, which carried them all the way back to their lavish suites in the airport hotel.

Well, I’m jolly pleased to say that the DVD-replication system that the US engineers installed that day is working perfectly. It’s turning out hundreds, if not thousands, of DVDs each and every month, much to the delight of the Chinese folks that purchased the system from the US OEM.

Sadly though, the US engineers will never know the location of the facility where they spent that day getting the system up and running, and teaching the individuals that worked at the factory how to operate it. The Chinese folks, on the other hand, wouldn’t have had it any other way.