On the last Wednesday of the quarter, I flew to DFW, landing in pelting rain much welcomed by Texans (the reservoir that was our water supply for 25 years is only 50% full). I was bound for a nice paying gig, delivering a four short breakout sessions the following day at the convention of the Door and Hardware Institute. They found me through a speakers’ bureau that I joined a couple of years ago, but never did get any work. To save the good people at DHI a few bucks, I hopped in a shared-ride van, and to my delight the only other passenger was also headed to the convention; Bill provided a lot of introduction to who would be there, the challenges of the “openings industry,” and more. As in other sectors, lots of consolidation underway, but still a fairly traditional distribution method, with small rep firms.
We hopped out at the Hilton Anatole, a few miles northwest of downtown Dallas. I smiled as I walked in, because the hotel was where Linda and I stayed one night in May 1987, when we flew down to see if Dallas was a place where we’d want to live. The kind DHI folks upgraded me to a posh and way-big junior suite. Nice! Not so nice was the proposed $16 to use the gym; as you fellow travelers know, there’s a remarkable disconnect in lodging: the mid-market places like Holiday Inn and Hilton Garden Inn give you gyms, wi-fi, and such for free, but the fancy places charge for it. So I headed back to the suite and took a nap.
At 6:30 my friend Randy Essell rolled up in his enormous black SUV, and we motored a mile or so east to Herrera’s a great Tex-Mex place. I hadn’t been there in four or five years, and we drove right past. But it wasn’t this navigator’s incompetence, the café moved across Maple Avenue, a temporary move until a new and bigger place opens later in the summer. Randy and I tucked into some really fine salsa, huge plates, a cold Tecate, and a lot of good chatter. Always good to connect with another airline veteran.
Next morning it was time to stand and deliver, and I think my first foray into this kind of work went well. I had done a bit more homework to prepare for short sessions on transition to retirement and succession planning. It was fun (I’m waiting for the formal reviews from DHI, but they seemed pleased). After the talks I roamed the trade-show floor, admiring digital locks, security systems, and all manner of doors. For the curious, trade shows are way interesting.
At three I said goodbye and walked outside for a taxi to DFW. There was a line of buses, and a fellow yelled “which airline?” I replied “American,” and he directed me to the first bus. Nice little bit of hitchhiking. The coaches were chartered by Allergan, a name I vaguely recognized as pharma. Indeed, I learned later, they’re the makers of BOTOX, so I didn’t feel too badly about copping a free ride. I kept my eyes closed the whole ride in case someone tried to bust me. Hell, all they needed to do was look at my wrinkly face, but I hopped off at DFW $35 richer! Flew home, landing late, a long day. Let’s hope there are more opps like DHI. They paid well, it was not hard, I added value, and it was really fun.