by Nathan Schaad
August 11, 2011 was my first day working at RevBuilders. We got to know each other a little bit better, and I managed to get myself at least somewhat situated into the rather complex task of managing copywriters and the content they create. All first days are the same in that regard—you spend half of it learning what to do and the other half of it paralyzed as to what you should do next.
Despite it being my first day, I was nonetheless invited to join the RevTeam in spending a hot August evening in a private airplane hangar. The occasion seemed interesting enough. Two Chambers of Commerce in Prince William County recently merged in an attempt to conserve resources (I assume), and this was their first Board of Directors appointment since that merger. So that in and of itself is something that you don’t hear about every day, and chamber meetings themselves are not something you get to go to every day, so I was at least mildly interested in going and seeing what took place. We knocked off work a little early to make sure we got there on time, got into our respective vehicles, and made our way there.
So there I was, this brand new content editor and all-around word monster for RevBuilders, without much of anything in terms of networking experience, going to this Chamber of Commerce meeting. To say that I was out of my element would be a laughable understatement.
If the goal of these meetings is to hold them in relative secrecy, then I applaud the chamber for their choice in location—even Google Maps didn’t have a clue where this place was. Though to be fair, I am not familiar with the area. After a few missed turns and a few turns taken which we weren’t supposed to, we finally found our destination, signed in, and got our drink tickets, good for a cup of our alcohol of choice.
The lobby was elbow-to-elbow with people when we arrived, five or ten minutes late, and I followed my two bosses through the fold, shaking hands, smiling, and trying not to laugh at some of the particularly phony-looking return smiles. I think at one point I shook a politician’s hand. I was good at smiling, nodding, and listening, and that seemed to be all anyone wanted out of me. So I guess I did alright through the chaos of the room. We grabbed some water and soda from the bar and tried the tomato gazpacho they were serving. I don’t particularly care for tomato gazpacho, though, so I couldn’t tell you how it was in relation to other tomato gazpachos.
We were soon being herded—that is, the whole group, not just RevBuilders—into the hangar. We understood as soon as we stepped inside why they had to force people down this way. Hangars, even private ones, are not air conditioned, and understandably nobody wanted to stand in the August heat in their sports coats and ties.
Caterers brought around samples of chicken, chips with salsa, and so forth, and there were various tables featuring different sorts of food: a pâté, meat, cheese, and fruit display; and on surrounding tables, gyros, pulled pork, stir fry, and various desserts, all arranged according to regional themes, all very organized and formally presented. There was another bar inside the hangar for those who missed their opportunity for a drink on the way inside, or simply wanted to pay a few bucks for another. A university jazz combo played a smooth, saxophone-dominant set with a private jet as their backdrop, and people and politicians talked at one another in the typical networking script:
“I’m A, this is B, and we do X.”
“Oh really? I do Y. So what’s it like doing X?”
“It’s pretty E-Z, I suppose, how about Y?”
“It can be a real D, but it’s worth it.”
I concerned myself mostly with the refreshments, particularly the brie and smoky white cheddar at the center of the table, though I did have a little meat as well in order to call it a meal rather than simply a snack.
The cheese was, of course, delicious, in both its eaten and seen forms, and a state senator and a congressman both spoke at the chamber before they finally inducted their new board of some forty-four people. The chairman spoke, whose name I cannot remember, about how much she wanted people to get active and how she was so glad that the chamber had had patience with her in the past. She concluded, we applauded, and then half the attendees left while the other half lingered.
I stayed a little while longer to have another helping of the different cheeses, trying some different fruit pairings. Pineapple and cheddar is surprisingly good together