I’m happy to say that the flight to Dallas was very smooth, which was a pleasant change from my last experience. We arrived and I took an Uber to the Airbnb house that I had booked. On the way there, I was already looking up hotels, just in case. I arrived to a beautiful neighborhood of large brick houses. The owners of the house were present to greet me and swap travel “war” stories. I settled into my private room (with a lock) and just breathed. I knew that Airbnb was a good choice and I am happy I didn’t panic before I saw the room. I ordered a large amount of food for dinner and I ate slowly. I checked-in with my friends and coworkers in the area to confirm plans for the next day. I met the renter of the opposite room during dinner. She was in town for a conference and told me that this was her first Airbnb experience. I was delighted to know that people over the age of 30 were using the service and having success!
This area of Dallas was your average suburbia: houses, stores, restaurants, schools, churches. I slept well in the quiet room and was ready for the day! I had agreed to meet my friend from Florida that had moved out there recently. We had a healthy lunch as I regaled her with stories of my adventure so far. She was kind enough to drive me over to the office, which was nearby. As we drove up, I was bombarded with sights of restaurants, hotels, apartments, and retail stores. This office is planted right in the middle of the “Town Center” shopping mall. The four buildings rose 10 to 12 stories and even included a sky bridge that crossed over the busy traffic below. The inside of the building was very modern. I had to badge-in at the turn-style to be allowed access to the elevators.
The elevators were completely automated by touchscreen pads outside the elevator itself. You select your floor after which the screen will direct you to one of six doors. You board and are whisked away to your desired floor. There are no controls inside the elevator space. When you arrive, you are in the center of the floor and must navigate your way around to the correct location. As I made my way to meet the Supervisor, I noticed conference rooms that had digital statuses displayed. I assume this was to ensure that a meeting is not accidently disturbed. Training rooms were located on a lower floor for continuing education of all business areas. There were two break rooms, one on each end of the floor, which could hold more than 30 people comfortably.
My guide took me to the top floor to show me the surrounding area. There were windows that looked out in all directions. We spoke about places to live and which department might work well as I finished my college degree. That was one of those moments that I really felt like an adult. I was speaking to this member of Leadership and I did not feel 4 levels below him. After further reflection, I know this feeling comes from the self-confidence and maturity that I have gained over the years.
I was able to meet a few of my virtual peers in-person, but everyone as it was a Saturday. After my visit, I jumped on the light rail train down to the next stop. I wanted to try out the train as I had heard a lot about it. It was less exciting that I had imagined. While the price was inexpensive, it took twice as long to arrive compared to driving. I live in a city of cars and limited public transportation, but this seemed crazy to me. I tried to find some shops to explore, but I was basically lost for over an hour as I didn’t want to stop and look like a tourist. I explored a little too far from the main cross-streets and was surprised how quickly the area went from a shopping paradise to the “rough” side of town. This is common in many places I visited, but I never ceases to amaze me. After wondering in the Texas heat for far too long, I decided it was time to find some A/C. I called an Uber and headed by to my room in the fancy house. I am not sure why I wondered for so long, however, I am glad I had a way to get back.
My friend from another department took me to dinner to a Japanese place. She revealed many concerning facts about her “interesting” life and I told her about my trip and my future plans. She was happy for me and was nice enough to drive me back to save me the cost of an Uber ride. As we made our way back, she showed me an app on her phone that gathered user data to show where police officers are “hiding” on the road. This was like the smartphone version of those old radar detectors. She was very proud to explain that the app had been taken down more than once, but the creators keep putting up a new version of it that will last for a while. I can say with confidence that my coworker friends, as a whole, create a wide spectrum of diversity, in all manners of speaking. I hope I will remember this fact when my self-doubt about “living in a bubble” crops up.
The next morning, I took it easy as my flight was not until the afternoon. I ordered breakfast and watched a few episodes of a sitcom. My ride to the airport arrived and I was almost sad to leave this fantastic home and the friendly owners who had welcomed me so graciously. As we passed by each section of the area, my driver pointed out which places would be most affordable and the general culture of the people as well. I arrived at the airport early and had a few minutes to explore. The Dallas / Fort Worth airport was expertly designed with ease in mind. The building is in the shape of an oval, which allows for a maximum number of terminals and gates. A small train on the outside traveled around the loop to bring you to the correct section. After the tree-branch design of Chicago / O’Hare, this was a blessing.
I had planned a quiet trip of writing and reading on the short flight from Dallas to Jacksonville, but you know how plans go when traveling. As we took off and became airborne, I noticed the woman next to me was watching a video on her laptop. It was a highly detailed and colorful display on-screen. She must have noticed me glace over for a moment and asked if I wanted to listen to the sound as well. I could tell she was excited to share this with someone, so I agreed and to my surprise, it was actually a type of concert. A performance of music and lights. The general genre is called Electric Dance Music or EDM. I was somewhat familiar with it based on my personal musical journey. The video was a recording of one of the larger festivals that are held once a year for the “faithful” followers. This event, according to my flying companion, had more than 10,000 people in attendance. I was happy to know that a large group of people would put on such an event as most people I know would call that a little crazy. However, sporting events, concerts, conferences, speaking events, and religious gatherings could easily outpace this one example. If a group of people are passionate about something or believe deeply, they will create a place to celebrate and congregate around the topic of their faith.