I don’t know how many of you work in large companies. And maybe this goes on in smaller workplaces as well. Many times in my corporate life, we had ‘team-building’ events. They ran the gamut from 2 hours in a conference room, to a 4-day stay in a splashy hotel complete with daily gift bags, excursions, lavish meals and keynote speakers at dinner. You’re all nodding your heads, right?
A recurring icebreaker at these events was for each person to tell the group one thing nobody knew about them. I am about to share my BIG secret! But guess what, if you — like I did — worked at the same company for a long time, you had to keep coming up with new things. Because after you divulged your one big honkin’ secret thing, it wasn’t secret anymore. I won’t bore you with those other exciting secrets I shared, but the BIG one — yeah, it’s still pretty cool.
When I was 11 years old, I rode in the Goodyear blimp! Yep. With my family. It was a big treat — something my airline pilot father thought of — to ‘reward’ us kids for being hospitable to some very obnoxious house-guests we hosted for several days. I’m sure it was expensive for those times (late 60’s), so can you imagine how bratty those visiting kids were that my parents actually did this? Anyway, we boarded the blimp (‘The Mayflower’) on a small airstrip near what is now the cruise-ship port of Miami. It was tethered with long ropes tied to the ground, and to ‘take-off’, they just untied the ropes and we started floating. I’ll confess to some initial disappointment — who knew that you actually rode in a small vestibule hanging under the large silver airship? I thought we’d be INSIDE the blimp! I told you I was only 11, right?
At the risk of sounding downright unappreciative, I was further put-off by the extremely loud noise in the vestibule. It truly sounded like a freight train going through your head. But THEN — then — then, we were floating (quite low) over Miami Beach. We could see people on the beach, and more important — they could see us! Everyone was waving, and pointing and smiling at us. I felt like (an 11-year-old) celebrity. It was an amazing feeling and a wonderful view. It was a short trip, but enough to stay forever locked in my memory. The finale? Upon returning to the airstrip, several burly men ran alongside us, grabbed the dangling ropes, pulled us down to the ground and tied us to the anchors to keep the Mayflower on land. I had just ridden on the Goodyear blimp! I’ve still never met anyone else who has. (And no, it doesn’t count if you’ve ridden on one of those newer, smaller, copycat blimps like Fuji or MetLife !)