Hallways

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I made a post on Facebook yesterday about something that happened the day before.  It received so much commentary that I thought it I should share it here as well.  Because it is related to an issue that happened at work, there are some of you who follow my blog who may know the person in question and/or know more about the circumstances.  I ask that if you choose to comment as well that you respect the privacy of this person and that of their family.  While some may reach out to me to ask for details personally, I hope you understand if that is information I don’t share – again out of respect.

That being said … the message I am sharing is more personal and something we all can share.

Here it is:

Yesterday, I walked into a plant for a short visit in prep for the rest of the week. While shuffling through the hallway, I waved to a guy that works in the offices. I knew him only in passing, where he supported a meeting a few weeks back and in one instance just last week I mistook him for someone else when he picked up the phone. I really didn’t know him, just that he was young and does a pretty good job for the people in that plant.
I learned a lot more about him today. What his hobbies were. That he had a young daughter. That he could be relied on to help someone out, to the point that he promised too much and had a hard time delivering on all the help he wanted to give. How he was well liked. How he was a part of a family at a plant I barely ever visit.
Of course, I write about him in past tense as we found out this morning of a tragic accident last night.
I don’t want anyone to say they are sorry to me, or to suggest this is a source of sadness that needs comforting. It’s unfair to those who knew him, were close to him, loved him, to suggest he was anything more to me than someone I interacted with a couple times at work – and to morn for me is selfish. Yet that moment yesterday when I gave him a wave is staring to etch itself into my mind. If I walked through that same hallway, I should have been able to wave to him today. If I did walk that hall, if he was there, I wouldn’t have thought anything about it.
I want that image to etch in my mind, because I need that reminder. For everyone who lives a long and happy life, there are some that leave us too quickly. As fearless and driven that we could be, it can be taken from us in the simplest of turns. It’s as easy for us to not think of what it means to be mortal – so we need reminder of the opposite. We need to do the opposite.
Don’t cry for the lost, smile for the living.
Get what you need and give what your getting.
Life is for the living, so live it.

Travel This Road Less

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Hello from Midland, Texas.  I am sitting in a hotel four days out from the official start of La Grande Tour 2016, but really only a day and a half into the heavy driving.  Already, I clocked 1207.5 miles from the start, over 600 of which happened today in a run in from Tucson, AZ.  It was actually an easy run.  Unlike those trips I made on the way out, or the two I made last year which was loaded up with 12 to 14 hour days; today was just a little over nine hours including stops.

Truthfully, the trip was made by how boring of a run it was.  I picked up I-10 outside of Palm Springs, CA yesterday and rode that all the way to West Texas; where we are now on I-20.  I would be surprised if many of you drove that much of I-10, or at all.  You see, this country is full of legendary roads from Route 66 to the PCH to the mountain passes of I-70.  I-10 would not be mistaken for a legendary road.  I used to complain about “The Southern Route” which is mostly I-40 in from the Midwest across Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and Northern New Mexico & Arizona.  At least that road had trees … and a meteor crater.

I-10 had nothing!  I mean literally nothing.

Once you got passed the California Foot Hills and dodged around the terracotta buttes near Phoenix , you are basically bludgeoned by hundreds of miles of flat, dry, brush covered dead.  Towns are so sparse that you see them from miles off, and you blink your eyes out trying to miss them.  After a while, I was hoping for something like Board Patrol checkpoints just so I can have something to think about other than getting the road behind me.  Then once you get into Texas, the most interesting to see is oil wells … and if you have seen an oil well you know exactly how boring I am trying to make this out to be.  This is road that has a legal speed limit of 80 mph, and it’s a blessing just because you know you get it over with faster.

All due respect to Robert Frost, but sometimes there’s a reason to not take the road less traveled … I’m just saying.

Tomorrow it is a short day; a few hours to find ourselves in Fort Worth for the remainder of the week.  It’s back to the day job until Saturday, and part of this long run that will see me in Texas an awful lot the next two weeks.

La Grande Tour

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This week marks the end of my long-term stay in California, for this go around.  Ironically, how (or more specifically, when) I will return to my ‘home’ in Boston is still up in the air.  As you may have known, right after Christmas I drove out of Boston heading west and I arrived in California on New Years Eve 2015, checked into a hotel New Years Day, and nearly made the full run at that hotel ever since.  On Friday, I check out of that hotel, and begin the drive back.

The thing is, I am out here for work, and on my way back I have to work too.  My job requires me to manage quality systems at 24 plants around North America, and while I have been giving emphasis to the five plants out here in Southern California, there are other now that need a little attention too.  So instead of planning a trip specifically for them, I planned my return specifically for them.

Thus – what I am dubbing – La Grande Tour.

Ironically, it’s mostly a ‘La Grande Tour’ of Texas, but not the point.

After checking out of my hotel in Placentia, CA (next door to Anaheim … or as the Californians would understand, at the junction of 91 and 57), the pup and I make a run down to our home away from home away from home in the Temecula wine country.  A couple days with friends, and then on Sunday April 10th the driving begins.

We are taking the ‘Deep South’ route running along the Mexican boarder on I-8 and I-10 with the destination of Fort Worth, Texas on Tuesday night.  It is then three days working in Fort Worth and Arlington before the weekend.  Which … by weekend, I mean, a longer weekend … this Bear is taking a vacation day on Monday, because he is heading to New Orleans.

So begins the real ‘Le Grande Tour’.  Because when you add Fort Worth  Arlington on April 13-15 to New Orleans April 16-18; its the most stable for a week.  That is followed by Lafayette, LA on April 19th.  Houston, TX on April 20th.  Oklahoma City on April 21st (yes, that will be a hell of a drive in-between).  Then Tulsa, OK on April 22nd.  That’s not just four cities, that is six plants I am visiting in four days.

You would think I would be done with it all at that point … and yes, I probably will be, but then comes the next phase.  April 23rd is a run down to “The Deep South”, followed by at least three days in Greenville, SC April 25-27.

After that, I am cutting it off.  Bee-lining it north to Boston.

I should be back at the Condo by April 30th, over three weeks after checking out of my California hotel – and likely over 5000 miles of driving to get there too. I was hoping that I would get time to do some sightseeing along the way, but the route didn’t exactly help me with that.   Instead, the route is going to give me a chance to meet up with people I haven’t seen  in a while (though some of that isn’t confirmed , so no spilling names yet).

Of course, you can expect posts along the way, though it won’t be as much about the mileage I am gaining along the drive.  This is more of a work interrupting the route that I take than anything.  Heck, even in all that driving, all the plant visits, and all that other stuff – I still have my day job to do, which includes finding time to put in 3 webinar training sessions … each about 3 hours long.

But I guess this is the life of La Grande Tour.