My work affords me certain perks. One of them is that I am able to attend local trade shows in the Tidewater area as well as some out of the area and I don't even have to pay for them. I get paid to go to them and I get reimbursed any expenses. It is pretty cool especially considering that my job is to play, maintain and work with toys and toy trains. So, when the Greenberg's Toy Train show came to Virginia Beach Pavilion in Virginia Beach, Virginia I was informed I could go on the clock. I didn't though. I had a lot of things I needed to get done so I postponed my trip to the train show for a day. And I am happy that I did.
Lets me start off by saying that I have a crazy schedule and when I do get some free time off I like to stay at home and rest. But this past Sunday after church I knew I needed to get out to the Virginia Beach Pavilion to see some friends and check out the new toys and toy train products that are coming out. Also I use the time to build relationships with fellow "Train-Geeks".
I arrived a little before 2 pm in the parking lot, got out of my car and headed towards the front entrance of the Pavilion and I saw 3 guys from one of the local clubs come walking out of one of the side doors with a large box of food. They saw me and waved to me so I walked over. When I got over to them we all sat down about 20 feet from a dumpster on the curb eating Enchiladas, tacos, burritos and sipping on sodas while talking about what we all have been doing over the past 3 months. One guy had lost his mother since I had spoke with him last, another had fallen in love and the 3rd had gotten some great deals on some toy trains on the internet. We talked about our lives, our families, our work and our common passion of trains from a lost period of American history.
When the food was finished and the boxes and wrappers stuffed into the dumpster we continued to talk, I pulled out one of my Gurkha's and lit it up, another guy took out a cigarette and we sent the one non-smoker inside to get us some soda's and when he came back we were all telling jokes and laughing. He passed out the drinks and told us that a few of the guys inside were asking if we were going to come inside and when they found out I was outside talking asked him if I were going to be inside soon. He told them he didn't know. We all chuckled about it and continued to talk and enjoy our cigars and cigarettes while our conversation continued to flow with no uncomfortable silences or awkward moments. After about 30 minutes or so a few other train guys came out and to our surprise they brought supplies, more drinks some chips and hot dogs. We welcomed them with open arms, quick wit, and lighters for their smokes and laughter for their stories. A flask appeared and was passed around with enthusiasm and the contents were enjoyed by all.
It was a serendipitous bonding moment that I have rarely experienced in my life and one that I will remember til the day I die. Eventually we slowly broke up, a few of my friends had trains operating on a layout and one had left his wife in charge of his vending booth an he knew she would be upset if he stayed out too long. So we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I contemplated on going inside and walking around for a bit just to see some of the folks that had not come outside but I had a real nice "Friendship-Buzz" going. I felt good. Real good, like I was floating inside a bubble and I did not want to destroy that bubble so I slowly walked to my car, took the last few puffs of my cigar, sipped down the last of my Mountain Dew until I heard the soda pop gurgling against the ice inside the styrofoam cup. I tossed the cup in a trash can near my car, pulled the cigar ring off my cigar and pocketed it and then set the cigar at the foot of the the lamp post and got in my car. When I put the key in the ignition and started the car the radio came on with the band Journey singing about people going "Separate Ways."
It was the best Train Show I never attended. I hope to not attend many more like this and I hope you all out there get the opportunity to not attend whatever "Trade Show" you may find yourself walking towards.