Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Growing old

A large part of the growing old experience for me has been an increase in the stories I remember. Not fiction, but memories of the events that were important (at the time) in my life. I'm becoming one of those old men that can tell you a story at the drop of a hat. (drop of a hat? where does that old phrase come from?)

For instance; Mr. Blue, the proprietor of life on peach eater creek has been sharing photos of his recent trip to Hawai'i and the island of Oahu. As I viewed the photos and read the story I was transported back to the days when I was visiting the islands. I didn't have the usual tourist experience as I was there on 'business'.

At this juncture in my life I was in transition from being an estimator/project manager for a very large construction company to becoming a software developer/IT specialist/instructor/go'fer for the same company. I was leaving the estimating job behind...and leaving The Boss from Hell (TBH) behind as well.

I was working from home at the time and I received a phone call from the CFO of the company. We were friends because of our shared interest in computers and spreadsheets. Lotus 1-2-3 to be exact; the only spreadsheet around at that time. Out of the blue he asked me if I would be available to fly to Honolulu the next day. I was silent for a moment as I tried to process this request. So he explained that the company was thinking about buying a similar construction company that was for sale in Honolulu and he wanted someone (me) to visit some of the jobs they had contracts for and see if the jobs had any chance of being profitable. I would visit the jobs with their superintendent and then go over their estimates. Would I be interested? Sure!

He told me to go to the airport the next day, early, and pick up my tickets. They were one way tickets as we didn't know how long I was going to be needed. Now I had to pack a bag...and tell my wife when she came home from work. My going away to distant locations for jobs had always been part of our life; I wasn't worried about her reaction to the news. Well, maybe I was a little bit worried. After all, my destination was a tropical isle and not New Jersey or Bakersfield. She might have something to say about that...

The next day came and I found myself on a 747 flying over the water. Lots and lots of water. Hours of blue water.  Our travel department had secured me an exit row window seat and so I was quite comfortable and after 5 hours I was able to see the small speck in the ocean ahead of us that quickly grew to 'island size' as the pilot began turning and descending. I recognize Diamond Head from the pictures I had seen. I saw Pearl Harbor and then we were taxi'ing up to the gate. My friend had told me that it was faster to walk to baggage claim than to wait for the wiki wiki bus and so I did. This was when I first noticed that the air smelled 'sweet'. A wonderful smell that I later learned came from the Trade Winds that constantly blow across the islands. Those same winds bring beautiful white clouds that accent the tropical blue sky. I was simply amazed! 24 hours earlier I had been laboring over some spreadsheets and here I paradise!

I rented a car and followed the directions to the office located in an industrial area close to the airport. Here I met my friend and was introduced to all the management and office staff. All very friendly.  Then I was given a space to call my 'office' and a stack of plans and specifications. No time to waste; it was time to get busy and review these plans because I was going to have to go with their superintendent to some of these jobs tomorrow. Okay...

After some time, my friend came in and said to call it a day, it was 7 PM, and he gave me directions to my hotel. It was in Waikiki, about 15 minutes away without traffic and an hour away during rush hour. I finally found the hotel, a small 4 story hotel with very tall neighbors on each side. It was a hotel that catered to Japanese tourists and it was sized to fit right in to a hotel district in Tokyo. Everything about the hotel was diminutive. Very clean and very charming. Breakfast was free and served outside on a patio.

I remember sitting there, enjoying the calm of this secluded patio. There were Palm trees and other tropical plants around me. The air was the perfect temperature and it smelled sweet. I was hooked!

I will write some more about this time in another post.


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