21 Apr 2009 @ 8:59 PM 

Oh Day 1. You could have been so much more.

What follows is a description of the epic adventure that took me from RDU airport to BOS in 17 hours. Indeed. If I had driven, it would have been faster.

Monday: 4:15 PM. I arrive at the airport. Lovely Wife drops me off, dog in back seat wags her tail. I’m off to the CBC! Woo!

Monday: 4:17 PM. I realize that I do not have my cell phone in my pocket. This is Bad News (TM), since it has all of my contact information for all kinds of people and places in it, plus without it I cannot call Lovely Wife. I frantically borrow people’s cell phones attempting to call Lovely Wife to get her to turn around and bring me my cell phone I get voicemail because Lovely Wife’s phone is on the fritz.

Monday: 4:50 PM. I give up waiting outside the terminal, borrow somebody’s cell phone and leave another message for Lovely Wife asking her to FedEx my cellphone to the conference hotel. I head through security to my gate. My plane is pre-boarding.

Monday: 5:00 PM. I am paged by the airport to “please report to a courtesy phone.” Apparently, Lovely Wife is calling me. I cannot see a courtesy phone. I ask a TSA person: “Where can I find a courtesy phone?” “What airline?” they ask. “No airline. A courtesy phone.” I am paged again. “Did you hear that? That’s me. Where can I get that?” “What airline?” they ask. Someone behind a ticket counter says, “The information desk is near baggage claim.” I go *back* outside of security, talk to Lovely Wife. Yes. Thank you, sweetie. You’re awesome. My plane is taking off. I need to run.

Monday: 5:10 PM. The security line has grown ENORMOUS. I am able to get ushered to the front of the line. The people here are taking forever. I am on my way through security for a 3rd time, now.

Monday: 5:15 PM. I arrive at my gate. It doesn’t look like anything has changed. I wonder: Have they boarded the flight? I stand around and wait for a final boarding call to be sure. The woman behind the counter closes the door. I approach the desk: “Is that the flight to Boston?” “It just closed.” “But you didn’t announce anything.” “Well, they’re closed.” “But I need to be on that flight.” “I’m sorry, I need to worry about the people who are boarding to Washington now.” She leaves.

Monday: 5:17 PM. I am infuriated.

Monday: 5:50 PM. I am back through security at ticketing trying to get on to another flight for Boston. Lovely Wife has come to the airport and brought me my cell phone (See? She IS awesome.) I am booked to fly stand-by on the 7:55 PM flight.

Monday: 6:15 PM. Gordon Biersch. Beer, at least.

Monday: 6:30 PM. The fire alarm goes off at RDU. Nobody so much as moves a muscle. It will continue to go off for the next 3 hours.

Monday: 7:50 PM. The plane has boarded. I am first on the Stand-By list. The SAME WOMAN is at the desk for this flight. She pages the person behind me on the stand-by list 3 times, then gets up and closes the door. I approach the desk: “Did you just close that flight?” “Yes.” “But there was space on the flight, wasn’t there? You were paging the person after me on the list.” She looks at my blankly. “I need to go close the flight” she says, and heads through the gate.

Monday: 8:00 PM. Woman comes back to the desk. “You really need to help me get to Boston” I say. “I”m sorry, sir. I can’t help you with that, right now. I need to get two people off of this flight.” She prints something and runs off.

Monday: 8:10 PM. Two people de-plane and stand around talking on their cell phones: “Well.. you know.. we were just a little tired, and this flight was going to get in so late, we just decided to re-book on a flight tomorrow.”

Monday: 8:15 PM. Woman returns to desk. “I can put you on a flight at 6:00 AM tomorrow.” “You just took two people off of that plane.” “Yes.” “That means there was a seat for me. Two of them.” “Sir, they were business class.” “They were EMPTY.” “You would have had to pay for an upgrade.” “You COULD HAVE ASKED ME!” “Is 6:00 AM okay?” “Fine.”

Monday: 9:00 PM. Lovely Wife picks me up and I get to spend another night in my own bed, anyway.

Tuesday: 4:00 AM. Inexplicably, I am awake. Nobody should really ever be awake at 4:00 AM.

Tuesday: 5:00 AM. I am at my gate at the airport. Drinking a cup of coffee eating a really dry scone.

Tuesday: 6:00 AM. My flight actually takes off, much to my surprise.

Tuesday: 7:50 AM. My flight attempts to land in Boston but cannot due to fog.

Tuesday: 8:00 AM. Conference registration opens.

Tuesday: 8:15 AM. My flight attempts to land in Boston AGAIN, but cannot due to dog.

Tuesday: 9:00 AM. The beer tour to Maine that I am supposed to be on leaves the Seaport Hotel.

Tuesday: 9:05 AM. My flight lands in Syracuse, NY.

Tuesday: 10:00 AM. My flight takes off, again, from Syracuse.

Tuesday: 11:00 AM. My flight (finally) lands in Boston.

Had I just gotten behind the wheel of my car at 4:00 PM when I got to the airport and driven north I would have arrived in Boston 6 hours earlier.

Anyway, it gave me a slower day. I got registered, went up to the Cambridge Brewing Company and had a few beers with lunch. They have an astounding 19 on tap, including some really good looking barrel-aged stuff. The one that stood out to me: Reckoning – 100% Brett fermentation. Fruity, dry, and just phenomenal. I cannot recommend it enough.

At 5:00 there was a little “first-timer’s” session – not much there – little details about what was around Boston (a lot of beer) and what to expect from the conference (a lot of beer), where rooms were and stuff. I got to meet a couple from Knoxville, Iowa who are working on White Breast Brewing – and I hope to connect with them again later.

The Welcome Reception was at the Harpoon Brewery. Great food, great beer all around. It was fantastic to be able to wander around their brewhouse and warehouse and basically see the entire operation at a standstill. But this where I ran into an interesting conundrum: I am at this conference alone. I know nobody. (I know a lot of people by sight, but they don’t know me – weird.) How does one network in a room in which people are shaking hands and saying things like, “Heyyyy! Long time no see! Whatchya been up to?!”

Hrm. How to network when you know nobody. Weird. Sessions will help. They start tomorrow after Greg Koch’s keynote. More then.

Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 21 Apr 2009 @ 08:59 PM



Responses to this post » (7 Total)

  1. Al says:

    Oh my Erik, what an insane day and a half. I am so glad you made it though! Just getting back from my first conference with the fear of not being able to network properly, I actually did great. Just nudge yourself into those groups, check out name tags and say hi (especially if you actually know who some of them are). I have no idea if brewers are as friendly as art librarians, but as soon as they knew I was new to this they were friendly and chatty as ever. Course I was wearing a tag that said “first timer”, silly but oh so helpful.

    Hope the rest of the conference goes well!!

  2. Brian says:

    Absolutely. The entire *reason* for a conference is to meet people. If you have a communal meal or snack time, find a likely looking group at a table and ask if you can join. Same with receptions; if you all have a beer in hand, just join in and don’t be shy. Glance at the nametag. Know anything about their hometown or their brewery? “Hey, you’re from Dogfish Head! I worship you guys!” Hold out your hand and say, “Hi, I’m Erik. I’m looking at starting my own place, but right now I’m blogging about craft brewing.” Hand over a card, since you have a whole bunch in your pocket. Listen to what they say, don’t try to come off as knowledgable about things you’re not (not that you would). Ask questions about what they’re doing and what they hope to learn here.

    You just have to push yourself past that initial resistance to make the initial contact. Some won’t work out, but most people are more receptive in this kind of environment, when they know that you’re a beer geek, too.

  3. erik says:

    Hrm.. maybe that came out a little more self-pitying that I wanted it to, whilst drunk and tired.

    Thanks for the advice, guys. I appreciate. I don’t really anticipate having a hard time with it for the rest of the conference – like I say – sessions help. You’re sitting next to people, chatting. There’s food times, there’s beer. Beer is a social lubricant. And today? Today, I haven’t been awake since 4 AM.

    It’s just… weird. 🙂 I haven’t had to meet people in a place that I don’t know anybody since freshman year of college, and that’s easy since everybody’s trying to have sex.

  4. Brian says:

    Honestly, it’s a lot like that. Get yourself back into freshman mode, or at least trying to snare the freshpersons at the activity fair.

    Here, everybody’s trying to learn about beer and network, though.

  5. Samee says:

    Dan and Casey,You do not know me, The Nichols are members of my chruch. I have been following your blog since the night your precious Asher was born. I just wanted to share with you what a testimony you have been to me. It is such a blessing to listen and read how mindful you are (and consequently us) of how faithful and loving our Lord is. Your faith has challenged me in many areas. Thank you for sharing even through your grief. I am and will continue to pray for you in the days to come. Thank you also for sharing pictures of your beautiful son with us.Dannette Hain

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