Meanwhile, at the coffee machine...

Filling out the paperwork, I asked for two weeks leave-of-absence: the week the workshop in Paraty would be held (Sept. 7-11) and vacations at home (Sept. 14-18). I ended flying back on Tuesday (22), so that I could better enjoy the last weekend and took Monday for packing. This way, I only came to the University yesterday (Thursday, Sept. 24), having arrived in Erlangen on Wednesday evening...

As you know, I'm responsible for our department's coffee machine. Before leaving, I bought two extra packs of beans which, together with the then-open one, should, according to the average consumption rate of the past months, last for at least three weeks. Long story short, the weather took a turn for worse, it got colder, everyone worked longer hours - therefore drinking more - and the coffee ran out on Friday (18th). They took a look at the official calendar, where my holidays were marked until that very day, and concluded I would be back on Monday with more of the precious brown beans.

I wasn't back on Monday, and nobody bought more coffee. I wasn't back on Tuesday either, so no java there. On Wednesday I set feet in Erlangen, but being almost 20 PM, I went straight home. Finally, on Thursday I came to the university, and almost immediately half a dozen users came directly to me. "Hi! Glad you're back! How were your vacations? By the way, we ran out of coffee!" was a standard greeting I heard. Easy: I ran to the nearby supermarket, and before lunch everyone was happy again.

Then came the secretary. Checking my trip's paperwork, she complained there were more working days spent on vacations than on work-related activities, and therefore the Institute would not reimburse me the airfare. I talked to Peter, my advisor, who stood by me, saying that, while at home, I had worked on research-related topics and visited my former research group, and as such my extra days in Porto Alegre should be accounted as work-related, and thus be travel costs fully reimbursed. OK, case settled?

We leave the secretary's office, and he calls on me:
"Ricardo, it's all right to include personal vacations on work travel. I don't even have an issue with your unannounced extension for a few extra days. But then... to deny your fellow co-workers of their daily cup of coffee... if this happens again, you'll see what trouble is!" (or, in German, "wenn das nochmal passiert, dann kriegst du Ärger!").

Oh life...

Greetings from Erlangen!