Having waited for almost two hours in Atlanta’s airport for my connection to Jacksonville, I had just nodded off when some guy plopped down behind me. Blocking my bleary CNN-seared eyeballs, when he turned he kinda looked like our national union president from Manhattan. But what would he be doing on an Atlanta connection? One more flash of his profile and it’s confirmed. Completely oblivious to the Minnesota butt in the seat directly adjacent from him, I give him a few minutes to figure it out. But being Eric, he proceeds to immerse himself in some union biz. And being me, I’m afeared of interrupting his engrossed state of reading, so I (a) furtively document his presence with a cell phone shot, and then (b) slide off the seats smoothly while taking a last slink over to the ladies room. When I return, our president has boarded and when I pass him on the plane I whack him over his head with a USA Today to get his attention cause he’s still engrossed in reading and with headphones to boot. Midnight is looming and we’ll be in Jacksonville by 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time. An abbreviated time for snoozing before that all-fired-up pre-convention Breakfast meeting. . .
I find out our leader gave up his original flight to Jacksonville when the [overbooked] airline offered passengers a free future flight if anyone gave up their seat for this fun Atlanta layover — smart, eh? He’s not our national president for nothin’, hey. And apparently he never sleeps, so Carpe Diem Mr. Brooks, or in your case, Carpe the free perk. . .
As one of the co-chairs of the Union’s Training Committee I’m expected to chair our convention committee with my co-chair, Ms. M. I know – that’s a lot of chairs. This year our illustrious leaders chose Jacksonville, Florida to host our delicate delegates. Turns out it wasn’t the most hopping area, however, that fact did help members to focus on the actual reason for being there. . .
Mara, Eric, Jerry, Steve and Nathan. . .
Pictoral evidence that actual work is done at NLRBU Conventions. . .
Dave confers with his former Health & Safety colleague
over Jacksonville’s culinary choices
Jerry and Nathan tagteam Dave
Manhattan’s laser-sharp quirkily adorable Burt
Eagle-eyed Eric spotting something amiss?
After a long day, Margit and I jump across the street,
okay, we followed a long winding hot trail,
to the Science & History Museum,
where we met this biggish friendly blue fella. . .
Those weren’t teeth, but floppy fin-like structures !
This guy had a little bit of “Alien” in his approach
An Arapaho Buckskin Dress on display
The “False Face” Mask used in Arapaho ceremonies…
and possibly NLRBU Plenary debates
Curious pottery sculpture from Mayan, Aztec or Incan origin
Ancient Native cultures flourished here !
Things seem much less interesting in today’s Jacksonville.
Although we were plunked in a somewhat depressed area. . .
Thursday night’s meet-and-greet at the hotel’s steamy pool-side.
Deb has Roger and Doren eating out of the palm of her hand. . .
Well, one of ’em anyway
Friday’s Leave training class – everyone’s interested in leave. . .
Crossing the St. Johns River to Jacksonville Landing
We are told Jacksonville Landing is the hub of nightlife and music
and restaurants, one of which is the esteemed eatery, “Hooters.”
Margit warned me about Jacksonville Landing but,
much like Columbus, I had to navigate it out for myself.
Having confirmed Margit’s initial impressions,
we decided to follow the curious horseshoe path
to find the elusive San Marco neighborhood.
At Bistro Aix we stopped before we dropped from dehydration.
That’s where the talented mimic Nathan stumbled upon our group,
and proceeded to entertain with memorable comedic productions
while passionately describing the beleaguered DC folks he now represents
Sigh. I wish I had a video of that night.
The poised Adriana and Matt “Sonny Corleone” – visiting from Chicago
Dark topics arose at the district meeting
The stories get hairier. . .
COMMITTEES FINALLY CONVENE
Trusty Margit has a eureka resolution moment
Some of our delegates doing the stuff delegates do
Tirina and Pat exuding some serious ‘tude
I love my co-chair even though she is a fascist grammar queen
The newbies are thinking, “What have we gotten ourselves into??”
The hard-working gals brainstorm for that perfect verbiage. . .
Notice who all is not in there. . .
The hard-charging, engagingly-blunt Annette from St. Louis.
Both Margit and I conspired to adopt and/or kidnap her for our locals. . .
At our working lunch, Nathan is suddenly shy
while Jason ceremoniously sets up his fare
before tackling the resolutions. . .
If it looks like Margit wants to kick my ass,
believe me that’s cause she does. . .
While Nathan, Jason and Mara study the resolutions,
in the foreground Dallas multi-tasks with his sandwich
Deb, Doren, Jeff and Ethan in a silent tableau.
Though Jeff always looks like he’s up to something. . .
No one minds when Red Riding Hood stops by for a bite. . .
I get a nice side shot of the gruff but sweet Steve,
the NLRBU’s official photographer,
who encourages me to take some snaps
with his Pentax and gi-normous zoom lens. . .
Eric is saying, “Postage stamps? Really?”
He can’t believe one of the resolutions
asks for reimbursement of certain
postage stamp expenses.
Margit looks unbothered.
“We just field ’em and pass ’em on,” she’s thinking.
Or, “when can I slip that Xanax in his coke?”
The sly and unctuous Doren catches on to the stealth photographer,
while Mara visits the effervescence that is Jeff. . .
Jerry tilts back for
his best Deadwood staredown,
while Morris ignores the lens
You know something is fishy when even Red Riding Hood looks skeptical
Jeff ratchets up his charm and persuasion,
while Ethan quietly restrains his attraction. . .
Dallas and Pam may be plotting, but Jason looks downright mutinous.
I’ll tell you a secret, Margarita, aka Red Ridin’ Hood,
swears like a peg-legged sailor
Late afternoon overlooking St. Johns
That night, accessible through the hotel’s poolside, we stroll the Riverwalk –
it’s pore-openingly hot, especially for people from Northern climes. . .
Jason and Jamal debate starting a boy band.
Dee was positively transfixed by this shot and couldn’t stop asking me,
was this the guy you tried to stop from falling
and accidentally touched in the no-feeling-up zone?
[No, I have to keep patiently explaining, that is not the guy. . .]
Matt confessing to Dave,
before crushingly discovering
DVPs do not moonlight as spiritual advisers
Linda, first-time convention delegate and stellar star from Des Moines
who always “has our back,” and the
our sports-fanatic second delegate.
Jeff engages Lindsey, poor Lindsey,
whom we dragged around
one hot muggy night looking for San Marco . . .
Liz and Steve hold up the back wall, but more importantly,
guard the door from possibly fleeing delegates. . .
A back shot of the curiously intimate room of some 100 peoples.
Action vote shot – yes, it appears the entire back row has gone AWOL
Jamal goes rogue on a few votes. . .
Nathan stops by with his pizza and coke while an argyled-Jamal studies a soon-to-go-down-in-flames resolution. . .
Ms. Patricia finds time to electronically sneak in a text. . .
Re-convening at the bar
with Suzi, Margit and Nydia
Utilizing a “Jimi-Hendrix” camera shot over the back of my seat,
I capture a smiling duo happily riding to Jacksonville’s airport.
The same firing-backwards-blind-shot flummoxes Jason just a tad. . .
but his pretty blue eyes do not suffer
Jason and Dave trade war stories in the shuttle
Our cabbie takes us for a spin to the airport, describing the ocean-dwelling manatees and dolphins who visit St. Johns River around lunchtime, and the random alligators who visit neighbors’ driveways. . .
Meanwhile, back in Minneapolis, slushy snowfalls and temps in their twenties sinisterly await… No manatees, dolphins or alligators in sight. . .