Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Hello. I am in Mississauga, which is about 20 miles away from Toronto. I’m only here to conduct a 1-day train-the-trainer program for Roche Pharmaceuticals.

I made a number of earth shattering discoveries in my travels today. Canada is a different country. Say that with me: Canada is a different country.

Yes, I brought my passport. I also brought my phone (which doesn’t work here) and my GPS (which doesn’t list Canada under countries, just Costa Rica for some strange reason).

Getting through customs was very quick. What was not quick was being sent to stand on line for an hour because, get this, when I told the customs officer that I was in Canada to conduct 1 day of training, that raised all sorts of red flags. What red flags, you might ask? The answer- whether or not I needed a work permit.

Even when I explained that I was working for an American, not a Canadian firm, and that I am an independent consultant, the immigration officer wanted to see a letter from Roche indicating this. It never occurred to me that I should bring my contract or that I would need a letter. But I did need a letter for each African country I visited. So, all things being equal, I probably should have anticipated the need.

Unfortunately, my Roche contacts said nothing- and apparently have no difficulty when they enter the country from America for two days. I must be special.

Well, I finally got through that experience (they did let me into the country, thank goodness!). When I picked up my car at Enterprise and plugged in my GPS, I discovered that it didn’t have any maps for Canada (again, if I had remembered that it was a different country, I might have looked for some). This is the very first time I’ve driven in another country…

Ed, the very very kind and generous Enterprise agent, found me a GPS and programmed it for me, at no charge. Then he asked me if my auto insurance covered a rental car in Canada- and of course, I didn’t know the answer to that, either. To be safe, I agreed to take all of the coverage they provided. I wasn’t planning on having an accident, but I had been up since 3 am and it was now 2 p.m.

After I got going on the highway, I discovered that: (1) with all the GPS and insurance issues, I hadn’t adjusted the rear or side view mirrors and couldn’t see a darn thing; and (2) the GPS told me distances in kilometers. I managed to adjust the mirrors in transit.

Then, when I got to the address for the training, the entire huge building had no cars in the lot and turned out to be locked. I looked through my papers and found that I had another address for Roche, which ended up being the right one.

Now let me tell you about Roche’s Mississauga building. It is absolutely beautiful- very similar in style to Cuna Mutual, with lots of light and open areas. It is on a man made lake, it has an incredible cafeteria (Andrea took me there when I told her I hadn’t eaten since 4 a.m. and I had veal parmesan and fresh cooked vegetables, as well as a raspberry smoothie. We sat outside in the warm sunshine next to the lake. The food was terrific and the setting just lovely.

Andrea told me that: they get 4 weeks of vacation; they work 36 hours a week; there is a gym on site with classes and you are paid to attend the classes and then you can take your lunch, which is also paid; there is a spa room with massage chairs that you can schedule yourself for on your calendar- every day for 15 minutes if you want, and that is paid time. They don’t work on Fridays before a long weekend, although they are paid for the day. In the summer, there is an ice cream truck where you can get ice cream for free. Just amazing!!! Dress is always casual. Oh, they also have an entire wall of absolutely amazing photos that staff have taken around the world.

The only problem for me is that I kept getting lost and wandering around until rescued by someone. I really need to leave breadcrumbs behind me to find my way out!

Oh, my car is huge, is a 2014 model; of course I can’t tell you what make or model (I’ll pay more attention tomorrow, maybe), and shows you a picture of what is behind you when you back up. It also has blue tooth and every bell and whistle you can imagine, none of which had any of my attention.

The rest of my day included catching up on email, contacting my car insurance (via Skype) to determine that- yes, I did have the requisite coverage, setting up the room, starting to go to the wrong hotel, finding the right hotel, having the only standing lamp in the room go black and the adjustable desk chair that kept sliding back down to the original height.

I did call the front desk and the kind gentleman who responded took care of putting in a new light bulb (I always bemoan the fact that most hotel rooms have very little lighting) and replaced my chair with one that seats me too high and isn’t adjustable (but is better than being lower than the desk). I’ve ironed my clothing for tomorrow, had a lovely pad thai dinner, just Skyped with Jenny, and now to shower and to bed. I need to get up at 5 a.m. tomorrow…



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