A ‘go-to’ line of sarcasm I have is my ‘new and different’ line — example: “No parking in Boston? Well that’s new and different.”Arguably, the business trip I am heading to is my “New and Different that is equal parts sarcasm, and equal parts thin vail of personal fragility and fear. I am sitting in the airport about to get on a plane for Pittsburgh, PA for the Annual Pittsburgh Nadcap Meeting. Nadcap is an Aerospace Third Party Special Process Accreditation system that establishes baseline standards for processing suppliers to achieve. I’ll save you the boring and put it this way — the thing that will ultimately get me fired from my job is governed by this meeting.
This is not my first Nadcap meeting, and way far from being the first Nadcap meeting in Pittsburgh in October. From April 2002 through July 2012 I attended these meetings all over the world, from Seattle to Cincinnati, from Paris to Beijing, from London to Dallas, From Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh. The group I specifically supported (the Heat Treat Task Group) I acted as the main representative for my company/corporation for 11 years – and sat as the vice-chair of the task group for seven years before my one day of glory where I was chair for one Meeting (the same meeting I received the offer to move to Alaska).
I wouldn’t just say I attended a lot of these meetings – it defined my professional career. It developed my skill set, it expanded my level of expertise, and it looks pretty damn awesome on my resume. It was also where I met some of the most influential people in the areas of what I do, and I not only got to meet & learn from them, I became honored to get to know them as friends.
Today, when I walk back into that meeting, I will be returning for the first time in 3 years – the first time since I walked out for my ‘Alaskan Sabbatical’. Not only that, I walk in from the other direction. No longer am I a part of the group that orchestrates this program, but as a representative of the companies that are held responsible to meet it’s requirements. With that, I have a different outlook, a different set of concerns, and no longer the ability to make the change that I had before.
In a way too, I come back in changed — in some ways for the good, but in many ways (and many visible ways) for the worse. I’ll be honest with you – that’s what makes me the most nervous. Turth be told, I expect that to be water on the bridge, but like a friend and I discussed last night — sometimes when you don’t know what happens, you end up filling in the blanks with negative.
But let’s be honest, to know me is for you to say “Mitch is thinking negatively … well, that’s New and Different.”
I head in to this meeting focused and hopeful. Yet I am ready to make the same jokes, bitch about the same problems, and holler to the same deaf ears that makes this meeting so routine.