Too Few Flowers on the Balcony

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I had been having some trouble at work, so my stomach did a few flip-flops when my boss mentioned to me that we needed to "have a sitzung". Later that day, when we sat down together in a conference room, he looked distinctly uncomfortable. When he started in, I soon understood why.

First, a little background. When we came to Switzerland, our employer rented an apartment for us. So the contract was in their name. Any questions about the apartment had to be routed through them.

Second, it was spring time, when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love. And a Swiss gardener's fancy turns to thoughts of gardenias.

So, what was the meeting about? We didn't have enough flowers in our flower boxes. The neighbors were complaining that our gardenias simply weren't up to snuff. But of course they couldn't just tell us. They had to tell the rental company, who told my employer, who told my boss, who told me (a little apologetically, but only a little).

The upshot? We bought as many, as gaudy, as big flowers as we could and stuffed them stem to stern in our garden boxes. Flower this, beloved neighbors...

Kent Beck, April 1999

Copyright (©) 2007 Dirk Riehle. Some rights reserved. (Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA.) Original Web Location: