Monday – Draft
The first thought in my head as I sat down en route to Chicago was — I did not fucking pack Demetri. (Story: During Summer 1994, we flew to Jamaica and I packed Demetri, a koala bear that I received as a gift in elementary school on a trip. It was our first vacation as a "Chang" family that we could recall; no one was on a breast or in a car seat with its own restraints. Bottom line is he came, I packed him a certain way and we had a safe flight. I changed how I packed him during December of that year and our tire hit a rut in the road and we blew a tire under the nose of the aircraft, hence delaying our return home. Since then, he has been on every trip – Montreal, NY, Cuba, Kingston). Turbulent winds carried our aircraft into Chicago and the connecting flight into Virginia was no different. Windy, rocky and shaken; much like the feeling of the town upon my arrival. I decided to rent a Sunara at the last minute to ensure that I was able to move around without difficulty in the area. Good move on my part.
There is a general malaise in the territory and rightfully so given the recent turn of events in Blacksburg. It’s too soon to name this event, however the reporters have started to use "Tech Attack". This is not a town that is used to facing a massacre of this level. My heart goes out to the individuals in the area, their families, my core team as well as to my customers. The convocation with the president and governor is the current talk of the town. The radio is congested with opinions, callers all passing each other to try to cross the finishline and commoditize the situation: "it’s because of race"; "this only happens at schools with this cultural makeup"; and it goes on and on. Through diaries and analyzing actions of the culprit, we have a better understanding as to the catalyst behind this act. Perceptions of wealth, community and belonging were all contributors. No doubt that there were additional motivators at play–some which we will never know about.
Everyone I had spoken with was preoccupied with the turn of events. I met up with some of my local teammates to discuss what I had teed up for the day in terms of activities and then we went for lunch. Flags, people, spirits were at half-mast; sombre and melancholy. Business goes on, as did I through my motions with all this in mind.
Later on in the evening, I met up with a colleague at Champps; a sports bar about 10 minutes away from the hotel. I had a few minutes to myself in the bar before my colleague arrived so I hopped on a stool and watched some ESPN. It was "kid’s eat free night" and I was fascinated by the balloon artist who was entertaining some kids at the other side of the restaurant. This lady was in her late 30s, maybe early 40s. She oozed the typical charm that I have been lucky to have encountered up until this point in time; sweet but not enough to cause toothache. Believe it or not she came by and proceeded to rub my head. This is how that played out.
Lady: Hello there…[ Lady rubs my head in circular motion ]
Me: Well hello. I’ve been here 2 minutes and I am already impressed with the service. How are you?
Lady: I’m well thanks…you know my husband recently shaved his head. And I flipped out. I said W-H-A-T T-H-E H-E-L-L?
Me: Really?…well I’ve been doing this for me. Easy shave in the morning and then I’m out the door. Guess it works for me.
Lady: I’m a happily married woman, but even I have to look sometimes [ wink ].
Me: [ Blush ] Well I hope you have a nice night.
Lady: You have a nice night now.
Me: You too.
Tomorrow will be another day of customer visits. Great experience overall; one which I can get into more detail outside of this space.