Sunday, August 2, 2009

clueless in Berkeley

A business trip to the bay area a few years ago and the local management teams in Oakland and San Francisco really seemed like they were on paranoid acid trips, both districts' managers ready to filet the happy-go-lucky VP in San Jose, while I listened to them narrate their nightmares over the phone. Just go up there and see what they need, he said. They needed some serious vacation and therapy in Nepal. That wasn’t what they got.

It was a very weird ten days. Over the weekend, at a client site, a hospital, standing on the parking lot roof, looking at the bay, I felt very relaxed about all the family feuds. I was departing in a few days.

Monday and Tuesday were busy days, visiting clients, listening, assisting account managers, all of whom seemed like orphans, or perhaps they just needed hugs, I don’t know. Tuesday mid-afternoon, I decided to play hookie and skied out around two. When I walked into my hotel lobby, the person at the desk greeted me by name. I said hello. He then asked where I was eating dinner. In the hotel restaurant? I thought about it. Over the past two days, my diet consisted of mass market subs, coffee on the go, and granola bars.

Think I’ll go out tonight. Where should go?

He made a reservation for me a Chez Panisse. I had no idea about the name, the reputation, Alice Waters, the local fresh ingredients. I was clueless, but very relaxed in the taxi ride there. The meal was very nice. I had a delicious fish stew, salad, and a red. Afterwards, I went outside at the café for coffee and read the newspaper. It was great to just enjoy the quiet after eight days of drama. The restaurant was sleepy that particular night. The bill was steep but having been stupidly frugal all week, it was a private party of sorts.

It wasn’t until last year that I read about Alice Waters.

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