How my business travel plans got messed up and led to something amazing.
Last Wednesday I woke up at 5:00 am. I quickly got ready and hurried to the airport in Milwaukee to catch a 7 a.m. flight to Atlanta. Then I was supposed to catch a flight to Boston where I was to meet up with coworkers and clients for a 2-hour van ride west to Northampton, Massachusettes. We were coordinating our flights into Boston so that we could get out of the city before rush hour hit like Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
However, when I arrived at the airport in Milwaukee I got a notification on my phone that my flight was delayed. At first, this felt like good news. I was running a little behind schedule, and the delay ensured I wouldn’t miss my flight.
On Delay. On Delay.
Then the flight was delayed again. And because of some Milwaukee-style winter weather in early November, we would also have to de-ice the plane. At 8 a.m. they announced that we were delayed until 9 a.m., with an expected arrival into ATL at noon. Which meant I would miss my connection. Which, unlike Chuck Woolery, I did not love.
A quick check of my Delta app showed that the next 4 flights from Atlanta to Boston were sold out. So there was no telling when or if I would make it to Boston. Oy.
Beantown Plan B.
However, I also found a direct flight to Boston that left Milwaukee at 1:15 p.m. So I rebooked myself onto the direct flight, left the airport, and headed to my office at The Weaponry in downtown Milwaukee to work for the morning.
The delay meant that I would miss the van driving our team to Northampton. Instead, I would have to rent a car and drive for 2 hours by myself. Here comes the plot twist.
I realized I didn’t have to rent a car. I was able to rent a car. And this created some new possibilities.
Fire Up The Friend Detector.
One of my favorite things is to carve out time from my business trips to see friends. So I shuffled through my mental Rolodex wondering who I could see on the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston, besides James Taylor.
Jeremy ‘J.D.’ Durand
At 11:50 a.m. I sent my friend Jeremy Durand a message through Facebook Messenger, asking him where in Massachusettes he lived. I shared that I would be driving across the state that evening and would love to meet up.
Jeremy and I grew up in neighboring towns in Vermont and worked together for several summers during college setting tents for Blood’s Seafood, Catering, and Party Rentals. (And you don’t need a career in branding to know that Blood’s is not a great brand name for anything related to food.)
Jeremy informed me that he lived in Sturbridge, Mass, which was the midpoint of my drive. He was excited to grab dinner that night. So we quickly scrambled plans and at 7 p.m. that evening, I met Jeremy at a sushi restaurant in Sturbridge called Kaizen. Near Wicked Lick ice cream. Seriously.
The food was excellent. The conversation was even better. We caught up on our careers, families, hobbies, and common friends. This was the first time we had seen each other in 27 years! And the only reason we connected was because I got some bad news about my flight. Which turned out to be great news. Because it allowed me to reconnect with an old friend.
After I left JD that night I drove to the beautiful old Hotel Northampton. Shortly after checking in, I wondered if there was anyone else I might be able to see the next day. I would be filming a commercial at sunrise. Then I had to drive 3 hours to Cape Cod where we would be filming another scene at sunset and looking for those great potato chips they have on The Cape. But again, because I had a rental car I could stop for a few minutes to see another friend.
After a little thinking, my high school friend Zena Clift came to mind. I thought she might be in the general area where I was. A quick search on Facebook revealed that she lived 15 minutes away! So I messaged Zena.
I heard back from Zena the next morning at 6 a.m. We quickly coordinated a pow-wow. So after we wrapped our stunning sunrise shot and the rest of my team hopped in the van headed for the Cape, I jumped in my red Jeep Gladiator and drove to Amherst.
I met Zena at a cafe on the campus of Hampshire College where she works. We talked and caught up the way Jeremy and I did the night before. Zena and I went to high school together in Hanover, New Hampshire. We were on the track team together too. She was a great runner. But we hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. 30 years!
After taking as much time as we could carve out of our busy schedules we took some pics and said goodbye. I headed off for Cape Cod for my afternoon shoot feeling like I was winning at life.
Your personal relationships are your most valuable assets. They enrich your life in immeasurable ways. Make time to see your people in real life. Look at the delays and detours in life as opportunities to spend time with friends and family. Make time to reconnect with those you haven’t seen or heard from in decades. It’s worth the effort. And if you are ever traveling near Milwaukee, look me up. I am always up for a good pow-wow.
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