After a couple of years, I was asked to become a sales trainer. It was a part-time position and I would be able to retain my local Indianapolis sales territory. I would train and assist new sales agents in 17 states. I traveled out of Indiana only one week of each month. I would generally fly to my destination early on a Monday morning, work with a fairly new sales agent for the week and return to Indianapolis late Friday afternoon. It was a nice change of pace from my normal.
One of my trips took me to New Orleans. I had never been to that special city and was looking forward to that week. My early Monday morning flight was uneventful. The new sales agent that I was going to work with met me at the airport. It was about lunchtime when we exited the airport and I suggested lunch. He quickly pulled into a Denny’s.
We had several things to discuss and I needed to get to know this fellow and plan our week. We had a nice conversation and after lunch, we made some sales calls. Around 5 p.m. we called it a day and he drove to my hotel. I checked in and we spent time planning our next day. It was then that I explained to him that this was my first trip to New Orleans. I was hoping to have meals at places that I couldn’t enjoy in Indianapolis – no more Denny’s or any other fast food. He laughed and assured me that he would do his best to see that we wouldn’t visit any more chain restaurants that week.
A couple of days later, we began our day making some planned sales calls. It seemed we were closer to the downtown area. Around 11:30 a.m., we parked the car and walked about three blocks to a small downtown restaurant that was almost empty. A young lady showed us to a table. We were not given menus but were asked about drinks. There were three people sitting at a table near us.
After a short while, food started flowing out of the kitchen. Those folks at the other table and our table for two were inundated with small portions of fabulous dishes. I was both shocked and confused. Why were we receiving such a royal treatment? Later, I found out that the father of the sales agent that I was working with had a rental property that was rented by the chef. The folks eating at the other table were food critics from New York City. They were there to check out the place and sample the food for a future magazine story.
We enjoyed our special lunch for over three hours. About every 15 minutes, another tray of small dishes of fabulous food would arrive to our tables. It was amazing. When we departed the restaurant, we drove directly to my hotel. That was a very memorable week and especially that day at the restaurant. I never did get to see the magazine article.
While I was writing this column, I had the New Orleans Saints-Los Angeles Rams playoff game on my television. I began experiencing a small Saints connection. Then Jimmy Buffett, a big Saints fan, sang the National Anthem. The Jimmy Buffett-New Orleans connection became larger. I met Buffett at a concert several years ago when he gave me a short tour of his motorhome bus. I love it when connections come together like that.