Old Friends, Drunkards and Angels

No, this is not a review of The Pirates of the Caribbean, but rather things I encountered while in Austin these past three days. I traveled to Austin, Texas late Sunday for a business meeting with The Company’s automation system vendor. At the Plant, we have automation systems that monitor and control the chemical manufacturing processes. We have a large installed base of these systems, and The Company has a team that meets with the vendor once a year. I was invited to the meeting late in game as a new member of the team, representing the arm of the business line I work in.

I haven’t been to Austin in over 10 years. The last company I worked with also uses this same automation system vendor, and in my previous job, I had installed several of these systems and attended numerous training classes here. But it has been 10 years and certainly, Austin has grown a lot.

And to be certain, this was a trip filled with all sorts of adventure and encounters. First, my flight into Austin was delayed an hour. Normally, I wouldn’t consider this to be an issue except that in this case, it meant that I arrived at 1am Monday morning. Uggh. Add into the equation Drunkard encounter number 1 - two drunk men I encountered in the rental car line. Note to self – just don’t talk to people while waiting in line. Kuddos to the rental car employees who did not permit these men to drive. The last I saw them, they were getting into a cab.

Drunkard encounter number 2 - our dinner group encountered a very drunk woman on Monday evening during our business dinner at Eddie V’s. This young woman had the voice of Fran Dresser (ala The Nanny) and the chest of Pamela Anderson. As I work mainly with men (including myself, there were two women in our group of 17 people), this young woman decided to join our group, essentially throwing herself and her chest at the group of middle aged men. Nice. The most senior guy at the table had to act as the bouncer and force her to leave.

Old Friends encounter – two of my good college friends live in Austin. I haven’t seen Derek and Tim in probably 12 years. We got together at the Iron Cactus off Sixth street Tuesday night. Tim is a Senior Design Engineer at a small electronics company and Derek is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at UT. 18 years post college, they look amazing the same. Wish I had my camera to take pictures.

Angel encounter number 1 – I am driving down I-35 to meet up with Tim and Derek when all of a sudden, the car starts making this incredible thumping noise. I thought a loud truck had pulled aside me, or that the highway pavement was causing the noise. I was at my exit, so I pulled off and immediately realized that there was an issue with the car. Flat Tire. Crap. I have NEVER had a flat tire in my 40 years and I have never changed a tire in those 40 years, either. A man watched me pull up with my flat tire and offered to help me. What an angel. He changed the tire and went along his way.

Angel number 2 - Derek who accompanied me back to the Airport to exchange my rental car for one without a bum tire. What a great friend.

All that adventure over 48 hours. I’m glad to be heading home to the flat cornfields of Illinois.

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