When I am not busy writing about baseball, or working at games, or playing music or sleeping, I do project management for ATT.
I usually handle about 20 or so projects at a time, organizing requirements, scoping and costing out efforts, and as a result I have around 15-20 meetings a week I coordinate.
Now, I do work from home, but even if I did not, as you know, meetings are not what they used to be in a business.
In the old days everyone would gather around a big table in a conference room and someone from the office staff (this was before that termed became "team") would bring muffins or donuts or some treat.
Now I set up my meet-me-line and a project team from all over the country dials in.
It is a little different, for while we used to get to know our co-workers face-to-face at those goodie-laden meetings, that opportunity no longer really exists.
Well, one of the things I always do as my meetings are getting underway is find out where my co-workers are located. And, as a result I have learned some good things and thus fleshed out my mental image of them.
Like my friend Patrick Southworth, who lives near Hoover, Alabama, and loves fishing and with whom I broach a discussion about our favorite po' boys with relish. Or Ken Grant, near Milwaukee, who is possibly more of a rock'n'roll junkie than I, and with whom we always seem to drop a song title during the course of a discussion. Or Chrissy Chitwood who lives in St. Louis and knows her Cards and Rams as well as anyone.
Well, ATT's corporate headquarters are in San Antonio, while their IT headquarters is in St. Louis. And, though I have been to Texas a few times, I have never been to the home of the Alamo, but I have been to St. Louis a lot. In 2000 I had a project that took me to that fine city for a week every month for over a year, and I did get to the old Busch Stadium a few times (and now I have been to the new one).
Well, of course one of the things I ask when I ask where folks are dialing from is if they are Cardinals fans, or perhaps with colleagues from Jackson, Mississippi if they love Ole Miss.
And this week I have been leaving the subject alone though, for I want the Rangers to win, but I think the Cardinals are the hot team these days, but, well, the best I can do is wish folks who ask whom I am rooting for is answer "seven games."
Either way, it is fun to discuss the local teams no matter what level of play because well, that is how I can build a relationship, and even the trust and confidence of people I might never meet.
ATT also has a lot of offices in Atlanta, and since Matt Ryan is a favorite player of mine, I always ask Atlantans if they are Falcons fans, and especially of Matty Ice.
If I get an enthusiastic response, I often tell them of this story of last year, when I was returning home from Ron Shandler's First Pitch at the Arizona Fall League.
I was standing in the security line at Sky Harbor with Pasko Varnica and Mike Fenger, and wearing a Matt Ryan jersey, minding my own business when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Turning to my left was a female TSA agent who seemed about 17 feet tall, and who asked me to please come with her. Of course Pasko and Mike backed away, denying any knowledge of knowing me in any way, shape, or form.
I quietly walked away with her, wondering what in god's name I had done, knees shaking even though I knew I had done nothing.
The agent opened my carry-on and looked at me and asked, "Did the Falcons win today?"
"Huh?" I responded.
"The Falcons. Did they win today."
Taken aback, I tentatively said, "I think they won 31-14," and the agent shook her fist and said "yeah."
"Is that why you pulled me out of the line?" I asked.
"Yes, it's important to know the score" she said.
Well, I love telling that to my Atlanta co-workers, who think it is a lot funnier than it was at the time.
But I swear, I will never wear that shirt while traveling again.