On Tuesday, July 7, I flew up to Boston for a few days of meetings with my client, SmartKargo, way-cool air cargo software. Landed, met up with my colleague Jay, and hopped in a cab to the offices in Cambridge, adjacent to MIT (where the founder and two other leaders studied). The New York Times recently described the area as “the most innovative square mile on the planet,” and the low-hum of brainpower is audible.
Four of us spent the last half of the afternoon in meetings, then repaired to Mead Hall, a big bar with about 100 beers and ales on tap. Hopped on the T (as public transport is locally known) Red Line, two stops to Harvard Square. Walked into Harvard Yard, then a block west for outstanding pizza at Cambridge, 1 (that’s the name). Hopped the subway back to Kendall Square and to our digs, an apartment rented through Airbnb (hugely convenient location, two blocks from the office). Slept hard.
Up at six Wednesday morning, rented a two-wheeler from Hubway, the local bikeshare network, and pedaled west, back toward Harvard, then further west into a leafy neighborhood of big homes. Dropped the bike after 28 minutes (trips under a half-hour are free), picked up another, and rode back along the Charles River on an exceedingly bumpy path. That pavement was emblematic of seriously deficient infrastructure in Boston – roads, bridges, trains, the place is a mess. But who wants to tax people to fix it. Me, and not many others!
At 7:45 I met a longtime friend, Webster O’Brien. We worked together in American’s international planning group in the mid-1990s, and I’ve always appreciated his sunny demeanor, wit, and huge intelligence. We got caught up, had a nice breakfast, and parted at 8:30. I walked back to the apartment, cleaned up, and headed to the office. SmartKargo rents space from CIC, a new kind of office landlord, aimed at new and high-tech firms, and delivering a lot of amenities – showers, free food and drink, pool and ping-pong tables, the works. We spent the morning and early afternoon in meetings, and about three a trio from our newest customer, Hawaiian Airlines, arrived. Took an instant liking to fellow Minnesotan Tim, Brad, and Ginny. We did a bit of business, then headed back to Mead Hall, then across to see the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. On the Red Line across the Charles, I had a nice, brief T-t-S with a young African-American man, whose T-shirt read “The circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.” A nice idea, I said. He replied, “It’s from Pokemon, you know.” Well, no, I responded, adding that great swaths of popular culture were completely unknown to this old fellow. He smiled.
It took ages to go four stops on the Green Line streetcar, but we finally got to Fenway. It was my first time there since 1983, and it was a lot of fun. Fans are enthusiastic (even though the team is struggling a bit this season), beer is cold, seats were great. And the Sox beat the Miami Mariners 6-2, hooray for the home team. The crowds waiting to get down the stairs to the T station were huge, so Jay and I peeled off and walked home. It was faster.
We spent Thursday in meetings with the Hawaiian team. At five I hopped on the Red Line and the Silver Line bus to Logan Airport and flew home. Boston is always an interesting place.