On Sunday, November 9 I flew up to New York, then on to Montreal for the fall teaching gig at McGill University. It was a clear day, good for looking out the window (see below). Unlike previous autumns, because of budget the visit would be a single lecture the next day in the law school’s Institute of Air and Space Law. Sort of a long run for a short slide, but it was my eighth consecutive talk in the Airline Law and Business course, and I hew to tradition. We landed at sunset – much shorter days 500 miles north – and I bought a 3-day STM public-transit pass and hopped onto the 747 express bus into a place well familiar (first trip was at age 15, nearly 50 years ago).
Ambled up Rue Sherbrooke to my new digs. The fave Holiday Inn was becoming student housing, so the university booked me into a room in an adjacent student building. It was billed as an executive suite, woo hoo. It took the student desk clerk about 20 minutes to determine that in fact I was booked in the system, and another six or seven for her to take the elevator to the 25th floor “to make sure the room was clean.” Hmmmm, I thought, universities maybe shouldn’t try to be in the hotel business. Got the key, rode up, and it was both deluxe and huge. But no wi-fi.
Washed my face, changed clothes, and headed east on Sherbooke to the Latin Quarter and a by-now-favorite brewpub, L’Amère à Boire. Connected easily to their free wi-fi and had a pint of homemade pale ale, then a plate of fish, fries, and salad. Yum.
Up early Monday morning, out the door, breakfast, by long tradition, at the Tim Horton’s on Sherbrooke, then up the street to the law school. Worked a bit, and at ten met young Professor David Chen and another guest speaker, Lorne Mackenzie, director of regulatory affairs at the hugely successful new Canadian airline WestJet. Lorne took the first half of the class, talking about the secrets to their success (zero domestic market share to 35% in 18 years). I thought I knew them pretty well, but I learned a lot. I then delivered my airline alliances talk, good questions, applause, out the door.
Headed back to the “hotel,” dropped stuff, grabbed a quick bowl of soup, worked a bit, and at four met a longtime McGill marketing colleague, Bob Mackalski, for an hour yak. Back to the room, wash face, and out the door, east on the Route 24 bus, then north on foot to the dinner venue, Bieres et Compagnie. Granddaughter Dylan is in a novel first-grade program, mornings in French and afternoons in English, so it made sense to visit Renaud Bray, a wonderful independent bookstore on Rue St. Denis that had long admired, and buy some children’s books en Française. The clerk steered me to the right area, and in no time I had translations of two familiar English-language kids’ authors, plus a cute and very Canadian book about a bear that loves trees. Mission accomplished. Tucked into a nice casserole of potatoes, sausage, and onions, with beer. Ambled a block north and east to the Metro and zipped home.
Tuesday morning, breakfast at (where else?) Tim Horton’s, then back on the bus to the airport, then south to Philadelphia. I had a few hours, so did some work, ate lunch, and on the way to the gate for a flight to Charleston, South Carolina I admired a new artistic media: knitted wraps, in this case around pillars on the concourse in Terminal F. Philadelphia artist Jessie Hemmons invented Ishnits, which mainly wrap outdoor objects like telephone poles, street signs, and parking meters. She calls it “yarn bombing,” and among its several beauties is that it’s non-destructive, “an expression of comfort and humanity.” Linda is a knitter, so I immediately texted her with pictures. Way cool!
Landed Charleston 3:40, taxi to the Marriott, 20 miles on an exercise bike, shower, and out on foot across the old city to dinner. The Eno Center for Transportation, the nonpartisan Washington think-tank where I’ve done some work, invited me to give the lunchtime keynote speech the next day, and that night invited me to a dinner and reception on King Street, in the splendid old downtown. Had a nice meal and met some new folks. Next day listened to some interesting talks, then it was my turn. I felt deeply honored to be introduced by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. I had met Norm a few times in the capital and like him very much, still vibrant and active at 83. Speech went well. Another couple of sessions, then back to the airport and a short flight north to Washington. Wish I had more time in Charleston, a really interesting city. No pictures to show here!
Two days later, Linda and I drove to Dulles Airport and flew to Dallas/Fort Worth. The American Airlines Credit Union was honoring retiring board members at a dinner, and though it was a long way to go for a dinner, I wanted to be there, to see colleagues with whom I served for a dozen years. We were glad we met, especially for nice conversations with tablemates Sally and Peter Warlick. Sally worked on the food & beverage team 1998-2000, and earlier in my career I collaborated with Peter on some projects. He’s now Vice President for Fleet, a huge job at the new American. Genuinely great people. Woke up, flew home (Linda headed west to Lubbock to see Jack).
Two days after that, north on Amtrak to Philadelphia and the annual lectures in Prof. Americus Reed’s MBA marketing class at the Wharton School (where I studied management 30 years earlier). Arrived noon in pelting rain, hopped on a trolley to the University of Pennsylvania, and soon was ambling briskly down Locust Walk and smiling about being back in a place that changed my life, for the way, way better. Had a nice lunch with Pat Rose, one of the organizers of the postdoc program I attended back in the day. We’ve stayed connected, and glad for it.
I worked for several hours in the Wharton classroom where most of our courses were held 31 years ago, and it was cool to be in that space. At 6:30, I met Americus and we processed to dinner at a nearby restaurant, The White Dog. Wonderful meal, great conversation. Hopped a bus back to his neighborhood; by tradition – and budget – I stay at his house, which is a great treat.
Up early the next morning, into the kitchen, where I met Tia Maya, the Ecuadoran aunt of Americus’ wife Veronica. Maya speaks no English, so it’s sort of a forced – but totally enjoyable – Spanish lesson. As I do each year, I also admired all the cool stuff in the Reed house — it’s really something like an eclectic museum:
At 8:30, Americus and I headed by bus back to campus, I delivered a morning lecture, enjoyed a big Asian lunch, repeated the talk, hugged him, walked back to the train station, and headed home. It’s always a joy to visit Penn, which Benjamin Franklin founded in 1740; indeed, on the way to the station I admired several of his famous sayings, inlaid on the 37th Street walkway on campus: