Back on March 3rd, I was scheduled to meet with some computer programmers from Canada who were taking a road trip, via RV, across the southeast part of the United States.
These guys are bit more than just programmers. One is the company President of Fresh Books, Inc. The other two–executives with the company. A fourth guy accompanied them, but he was an Irishman and their chief videographer.
Their plan was to travel from one convention in Miami, Florida to another convention in Austin, Texas and stop along the way in eight other cities; meeting their clients and other “interesting” people. I was to be one of the interesting people. Along the way, they would blog about their adventures and shoot some video of who they met.
I held off blogging about the meeting because after we all met, talked, drank, and they shot some video–I was expecting them to cover the night on their blog first.
I suppose 4 guys in an RV after several days and a schedule to meet lost some of their enthusiasm for up-to-the-minute updates. Plus, I suspect that the “interview” they shot was less than stellar.
But, here’s a quick recap just so you know I wasn’t fibbing about the meeting.
The guys arrived at Felix’s late. It was a bad weather night. Thunderstorms were forecasted and the weather guys were right.
Upon arrival I met Mike McDerment, the CEO but he was seriously distracted. The Gang had stopped for gas at some point and Mike had lost his wallet, credit cards, the whole she-bang. Throughout the evening he excused himself from the table and conversation to make numerous phone calls backtracking the miles and stops inquiring about a possibly found wallet. Also, I assume he made a few calls to the home office for options.
Before dinner, I advised the guys to try our local seafood and personal favorite, grilled grouper. There was some talk about my suggestion of the grouper with meuniere sauce.
The sauce with some creole origins sounds French, and it’s one of those words I can’t pronounce without it sounding like “manure” sauce. (Face it, you kinda pronounced it that way when you read the word, too) I told the guys it tasted a helluva lot better than the way I pronounced it. And they finally believed me.
Surprisingly, the big hit at dinner was a simple side vegetable that none of the Canadians had ever experienced. Turnip Greens.
Now, I know I grew up in the south and greens are a staple, but I don’t like them and especially would not order them with seafood; but two of the fellas ordered them and ended up passing the bowl around to each other so all could try the leafy “goodness”.
Eamonn O’Connor, the Irish guy, especially liked the greens and related a story about a similar dish he prepares for holiday dinners–although his slaw-like dish has a red tint; but a similar taste.
I connected with Eamonn early on in the evening, as he was a videographer with cool equipment. Part of my work experience was video production.
Dinner conversation was split among the guys with myself and one of their Mobile, Alabama clients, Michael Thornton of Art and Logic.
Saul Colt and I talked about Comedy and Stand-Up. Saul had a short career as a stand up comic in Toronto and rubbed shoulders with some big names during the stand up “hey day” of the 90s.
Sunir Shah talked “software” with Mike Thornton, although there was some discussion among us all, about Sunir’s trepidation about being in the South with a bunch of electronic equipment crossing state borders in an RV and looking curiously non-Southern.
Mike McDerment and I talked about my then-impending trip to Prague and the phenomenon of blogging, as well as all the guys asked questions about Mobile, Alabama and the local culture, including avoiding or “riding out” hurricanes like Katrina.
Now, I’m proud of being a Southerner, but usually when I meet someone from “up North”, I try to remember my voice lessons from Theatre school and I tend to tone down the Southern accent. My mistake with these guys was mentioning that I was trying hard not to use any Southern colloquialisms while speaking with them.
That must have been their cue to begin to badger me for expressions they could use. Their favorite of the evening was inspired by the thunderstorm outside. We were dining at Felix’s Fishcamp and The Causeway over the Bay of Mobile. The parking lot had a few inches of water in it. They had heard “it’s raining cats and dogs” but had never heard the expression; “It comin’ a frog-floatin’ gulley washer” I imagine Sunir might still be using the expression in Toronto.
My interview with Saul quickly degraded into swapping jokes, perfecting the “frog floating gulley washer” expression and generally goofing around. I’m sure no usable footage made it past the video camera.
I took this picture of the guys.
We wrapped up the evening and I gave the guys some travel tips for their next destination; which was New Orleans, and thanked them for dinner and the visit and then they were off into the night.
I know they survived and made it to their convention in Texas and then back home to Canada. I haven’t heard from them since, but I like to imagine them sitting in front of their FreshBooks office building, sipping a fine Canadian beer, eating turnip greens, and saying things like “Ya’ll it’s cold out here, eh?
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