The day after April Fool’s Day I was up early and onto the 24T bus, the Metro, American Eagle to Kennedy Airport, New York, AirTrain to Jamaica, Queens, and finally the E subway into Manhattan. First stop was a quick cup of coffee with a young mentee, Andrew Chima, yakking about business schools – after several years of work, he’s headed back to get a MBA. Next stop was Delta Air Lines’ New York sales office (posh!) and a rendezvous with a former American Airlines colleague, Athar Khan. We yakked for a bit in his office, then headed across the street to a wonderful lunch at Circo (rabbit for me, yum). Athar has moved around a lot, and seems to have found his element at an airline that is doing a lot of things very well indeed. We got caught up – last time I saw him was London in 2008. In between he had worked in Qatar, where his next-door neighbor became his wife, and joined Delta a couple of years ago. He’s a very good guy, a long friend.
It was a day of reconnecting. Next stop was to meet Steve Buell, a classmate of mine from the 1983 Wharton summer management. I had not seen him since about 1985 or ’86, and it was such fun to catch up with him, too. He’s worked in investment research the whole while, helped raise two sons, and I clearly lived a good life. Parting, we agreed that Wharton changed our lives for the better.
Then it was across to Times Square and north on the #1 train to Columbia University. I had only been on the campus once or twice, very briefly. At 4:30 I met young friend Marcos Sheeran, who I first met at the South American Business Forum in Buenos Aires; we have kept in touch, but like Athar I had not seen him for five or six years. He’s finishing a MBA at Columbia, and organized an early-evening talk on leadership. The group was seriously bright, the kind of people who make me think “I can’t imagine they’re learning anything,” but judging by questions and applause I did alright.
Last reconnection was with Brenda Barnes, a person I barely knew at American, who found my blog while searching for AA alumni. Brenda moved to Delta in the mid-1990s, and has worked in various places. She mentioned a Columbia affiliation in an e-mail, so I invited her to the talk, and we went to dinner afterward at a tapas place in her neighborhood. Great food, wine, and chatter, but way, way too noisy and densely-packed for this suburbanite!
Ever the thrifty traveler, Airbnb was again the sensible choice, and at 9:30 I met my young host Spencer at his apartment on Amsterdam Avenue, a couple of blocks from Columbia. Spencer was a great guy. The pad was spartan but clean, and I was plumb wore out.
Up early the next morning, back to midtown and a caloric and fun breakfast with another AA alum, Pete Pappas. You can count on Pete for a great yak and a lot of laughs. He’s well north of 70, and has seen a lot in his years. I treasure that experience. Peeled off, headed to Queens on the F train and up to LaGuardia on the Q33 bus. As part of a “let’s get to know each other” initiative, American’s new merger partner US Airways was offering employees and retirees seriously cheap passes, so if you’re willing to standby you can get a short flight for way less than a short cab ride ($5, plus $8.25 in taxes and fees). The 11:00 flight was not full, and I got a seat back to Washington National, and was home by early afternoon.