Case 07: Waiting in Frankfurt

Abdul Hisham, marketing manager for a company based in Kuala Lumpur, is in Europe for a busy week of meetings. He starts on Monday with an appointment from 9:00 to 10:00 in Frankfurt, then Tuesday morning in Copenhagen, Wednesday in Zurich and so on. Due to flight delays the Malaysian arrived around midnight on Sunday, suffering from jet lag. When the hotel clerk forgot to give him a wake-up call he overslept, which caused the visitor to be late for his Monday meeting. To make matters worse, the taxi driver misunderstood Abdul Hisham’s directions and took him first to an address on Eckenheimer Landstrasse instead of Eschersheimer Landstrasse. So it was 10:05 when he finally arrived at Dr. Jürgen Schmidt’s office.

At the reception the visitor explained why he was late, adding that he looked forward to meeting Dr. Schmidt even if it would now have to be for a shorter time. Just then an unsmiling Dr. Schmidt entered the reception area carrying a briefcase and greeted the Malaysian formally. “Well, good morning! Are you all right?” he asked.

Abdul Hisham of course apologized for being late, explaining the confusion with the street addresses. “Yes, I can understand how that can happen,” Dr. Schmidt replied, glancing at his watch. “But unfortunately I have to leave right now for our quarterly board meeting, which will take the rest of the day. But since you came from so far away I’ll try to rearrange my Tuesday schedule.” After checking his Blackberry he asked, “Can you come back at 11:00 tomorrow?”

The Malaysian marketing manager thanked Dr. Schmidt but explained that he had a meeting Tuesday morning in Copenhagen which could not be rescheduled. “But I will be back here in Frankfurt late Friday to take my return flight on Saturday afternoon. Could we perhaps get together Saturday morning for an hour or so?”

Dr. Schmidt showed surprise at this suggestion. “That will not be possible,” he answered briskly. “Sorry it did not work out this time.” Then he shook hands and hurried out the door, leaving the visitor to wonder, “Why was that guy so rude?”


1. How could the Malaysian visitor have avoided this problem?

2. Why did Abdul Hisham find Dr. Schmidt’s behavior rude?