Some days I love my job for reasons that have nothing to do with work. It’s the periphery, like when I’m in the conference room at the AFLCIO, the one that overlooks the White House, or at a mountainside retreat in Santa Fe, or going to Vegas for two days to speak at a conference for… um… twenty minutes. It’s good to have perks because electoral politics has its up and downs. Hell, you lose half the time and that’s not fun. And you lose half the time because half the world disagrees with the other half…and people sure aren’t shy about talking about things these days. No need to belabor something I’ve already written about a zillion times… My point is pretty simple. Having some shiny incidentals nestled between mind numbing policy discussions and divisive electoral warfare makes work a lot easier to pallet some days. Yeah, yeah…brilliant insight, I know.
Today I stepped off the plane in Tampa and was immediately welcomed by a 95 degree gust of moist, perhaps angry air, and I had that feeling again. I love this job. I closed my eyes and let the air swirl around me, certain that after five minutes it would feel swampy and assaultive. But it felt good for a minute or two. I’d been in a temperature controlled plane for two hours and rainy Ohio before that. In just a few minutes I was cruising along one of those narrow strips of Florida road that you always see on TV and in movies…the kind that bisect two huge bodies of water and connect land that might not otherwise be connected. 22 miles of glistening water on either side of me while I jetted along thinking about how good it would feel to jump in, the seafood I would have later and how happy I was feeling.
I’m at the beach now, 20 minutes from the boutique hotel where I’m staying on the bay. This is where the local guy told me to come for seafood. I’ve already finished the man-sized bite I took out of the menu tackling mahi mahi, alligator, conch chowder. Key lime pie is on the way. Overall I’d say not bad, not great. The mahi mahi was a standout but I don’t even think the restaurant is worth mentioning here. I’d never come back. I’m looking around the place and thinking about how I ended up at this particular place. Although I told the hotel concierge to use food as his compass, I think he may have been sizing me up a little and making recommendations with an (unsolicited) ulterior motive. This place is a meat market with young girls congregating in clusters throughout the three or four levels of the restaurant/bar. No matter. I like adventures and this certainly is one. The key lime pie is off the hook (a recommendation from my server and nothing I would normally order).
Tomorrow I plan on waking up early to run on the beach. Why wouldn’t I? Then there’s a day of active listening and shaping a discussion that I’m not allowed to own, but that might go off the rails without some serious steering. In other words, driving from the back seat. It’s a good skill and I’m getting better at it all the time. More seafood tomorrow night and after that – home. Whoa…then Denver for three weeks. What a summer.