I spent last week in Plano, Texas where I was doing some training for a client. Since I knew that a certain Happy Catholic lived in the area, I shot Julie D. a message and asked if she and her husband Tom would like to meet up.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
We missed our initial meeting as my flight out of Boise left almost two hours late. However, we rescheduled for the evening just before I left. Julie sent me directions to an out-of-the-way eatery deep in the heart of Dallas, with the instruction that I to make sure no one followed. "Oh yes," she added, "have a newspaper under your left arm, and wear an Aggies ballcap so we can recognize you."
After a long week of work, I was feeling a little punchy anyway, so cruising the back streets of Dallas did little to improve my spirits. I found the diner, an odd little Tex-Mex joint with a broken neon sign that blinked "Jo s ats." I entered and was seated at a booth in a corner. I ordered a beer and waited a good 20 minutes before I noticed that written on the coaster in ink were the words, "Flip over." On the backside, was a note: "Go out the back, and we'll pick you up in the alley."
I finished my beer and made my way to the rear exit. As I did, a set of headlights flicked on, a Buick sedan glided up, and a door opened. "Get in."
I looked up and down the alley, then ducked in just, my foot just barely leaving the pavement before the vehicle pulled off.
"Did anyone see you leave?"
"No," I said, "Hey, what's this all about?"
"Too much to explain right now. Are you packing any heat?"
"No, unless you're talking about the Icy Hot I use for my strained back."
"You're a smart guy. Smart guys don't live long in this neck of the woods."
Tom drove. I noticed that the panel under the steering column had been ripped out, and some wires were spliced together haphazardly. Julie handed back something heavy and cold.
"You'll probably need this. Aim carefully. That's all the ammo you have."
"So what's up? I thought we were just getting together for a nice meal and some chat."
"Yeah, well, that was until we got this new job, you see? It was supposed to be simple... a little marketing piece with some product listings, four colors, a slam dunk in InDesign. And then, the scope creep. A tweak to the margins here, an extra column to a table there, and now we're looking at a 2500-page monstrosity with nested tables, custom layouts on every page, and a ransom-letter type style. I snapped. There's no going back."
Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit.
Okay, maybe a lot.
Actually, we had a great time, and it didn't involve Berettas, Buick's, or neon signs. We talked a bit of shop, since we're in related fields, and we shared a bit about family and dogs and faith. We talked for a good two hours and never even got around to books, movies, music, football, food, or Pope Benedict. I'm very much looking forward to seeing Tom and Julie the next time I'm in Dallas. They're actually the first Catholic bloggers I've met outside the Boise area, and it was so great putting faces to names. A note for Mike Lee and Brent Brown: Julie really misses your pod casts. When your lives are less hectic, I think we all hope you'll resume them.
Thanks for a nice evening, Tom and Julie!
And Julie also said some nice things here about our visit.