Once Upon a Time I Flew Across the Country on a Private Jet to Sip Cocktails and Talk About Furniture

At the start of last week I penned two obnoxiously vague posts about a private jet and life bonus days (go to here and here to read them) and so, as the title of this web log entry suggests, below is a detailed account of how, once upon a time, I flew across the country on a private jet to sip cocktails and talk about furniture.


It started with a phone call.

I was sitting at my desk at my place of employment a couple of weeks ago carrying out a great many super important tasks when my cell phone buzzed. I recognized the name on the caller ID as a furniture dealer I'd worked with on several projects both at my previous place of employment as well as my current one and so I picked up the phone thinking that there might be something wrong with the very large and very expensive office furniture order that I had placed a few weeks prior.

"Hello?"

"Corey! How are ya, man?"

"I'm doing well. How are you, Brian?"

"I'm doing great. Listen, how would you like to come to Michigan with me for a couple of days next week for a round table discussion about office furniture?"

"Um…"

"It'll be fun."

"Can I check my schedule and get back to you?"

"Sure. Lemme know."

We ended the call and I checked my schedule and considered the invite and then, ten minutes later, I sent Brian an email to let him know that I would, indeed, join him on a trip to Michigan for a round table discussion about office furniture.

Later that week an itinerary showed up in my inbox explaining that I should arrive at a private aviation terminal at Oakland International Airport no later than 9:00am the following Monday and so, on the date that the itinerary specified, I woke up early, crammed some clothes into a duffle bag and got on a Muni train.

As I'd mentioned in a previous web log post, it felt a tad bit goofy to take two trains to a bus to a private jet, but an hour and fifteen minutes later I found myself walking into the lobby of a private aviation terminal near Oakland International where, almost immediately, I was greeted by a man who I'd never met before. "Corey?" the greeter asked. I nodded. "Hi! I'm Carlos." We shook hands, Carlos and I, and then he introduced me to the folks around him. I quickly found out that I was being joined on the trip by four other Bay Area facilities people and three employees from an office furniture company. We all made small talk for a bit and then the lobby of the tiny terminal we were waiting in started getting full and I noticed that a lot of the people making it so were wearing clothing that sported the Golden State Warriors' logo and we soon discovered that the Warriors' team plane was parked just outside and was bound for Cleveland for an upcoming NBA Finals game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Just as we were discussing how neat it would be to take a picture with Warriors' superstar Steph Curry, a man dressed like a pilot walked into the lobby from outside and said, "I'm your pilot. Shall we get going?" We nodded, handed our bags to him and walked outside—to our private jet.

As someone who's extra large afraid to fly (see here, here and here, for example), I was nervous that I might throw up and/or weep uncontrollably on this very fancy and very plush aircraft full of my peers whom I'd just met, but I needn't have fretted because there wasn't much time for it and also the ride was so darn smooth and, oh yeah, there were self-serve Bloody Marys on board and so with one of them in my hand I leaned back and rode over the country in the name of office furniture.

The jet itself was really to really really cool. Aside from not having to check bags or take off shoes or wait behind other airplanes in order to take off, the actual aircraft was stunning. The cockpit was open and accessible with a spare seat for guests to sit in and the pilots were super friendly and there was a crazy-go-awesome snack drawer and four liquors on tap and the cabin was laid out with comfy benches and leather seats and wooden tables in various configurations and there was music playing and WiFi and the pilots turned the plane a bit so we could see Lake Tahoe.

Halfway through the flight, or two Bloody Marys later, I walked to the cockpit to chat with the pilots. After several minutes of them assuring me that someone else could watch the wings for a while, they explained what the dials and screens did and then I found out that they both went to the same aviation school as my brother so they gave me a deck of playing cards with photos of the plane on it to give to him.

The rest of the flight was a blast and a blur and we landed in Michigan in the late afternoon and a smiley man who was a retiree from the furniture company we were visiting greeted us and packed all of our bags into a swanky bus and off we went to our downtown hotel where we were met by a concierge who passed out folders containing our room keys and told us to meet on the riverside deck in an hour. I took the elevator to my room on the twenty-second floor and called my folks on FaceTime to tell them about the flight and to show them the view from my window.

After emptying out my work inbox and brushing my teeth, I met the group in the lobby and we were escorted to the deck outside where a table of booze was set up.

For the next hour or so we were learned in the elements of a good cocktail (a base liquor, a modifier and some other stuff), shown how to make a few ourselves and then we were divided into teams to have a cocktail-making competition. My team, Oprah's Half Sister, was completely terrible and didn't win any of the four rounds, but our drink names were pretty awesome and a list of them can be found below.

  • The Donkey Punch

  • Dirty Autumn

  • Carrie Bradshaw's Glovebox

  • George W. Bush Went to Yale

Unfortunately, I don't remember what was in them, but they were nasty so whatevs. Also, here are pictures of our team not super caring about our lack of the winning.

After the drink-making and drink-drinking we walked a couple of blocks downtown to have dinner at the Chop House, a ritzy place with digital tablets for menus. We ate and drank and joked and laughed and after a long, dope dinner we went back to the hotel where we met in a suite on the 22nd floor for some tunes and a nightcap.

The next morning I woke up early and went for a quick jog along the Grand River.

At 7:45 we met in the lobby of the hotel again and again the plush bus was waiting, this time to transport us to the global headquarters of the aforementioned furniture company. I don't know which parts of the rest of the day I'm allowed to talk about, so I'll be very short, which is fine because it's just about office furniture anyway.

Over a beautiful breakfast spread all five of the Bay Area facilities people, myself included, spoke around a huge and gorgeous table about some of the hardships we face as office-runners of fast-growing startups and then based on our answers (my hardships all revolve around office clutter, in case you were wondering) the day's agenda was set and for the rest of our visit we listened to incredible lectures that sported titles like "The Power of Place" and "Why Buildings" both of which fostered really interesting discussions and then we all signed Non-Disclosure Agreements and put our cellular telephones into a plastic box and took a tour of a warehouse of sorts that houses products that are still in development and it was super dope but since the super dopest parts can't be shared, here's a picture of a chair that can be.

Around 3:00pm we retrieved our cellular telephones from the lockbox, gathered the rest of our belongings and boarded the bus back to the airport. Having gone through such an incredible experience together, the flight back to the Bay was much more carefree than the previous day's flight. Everybody played cards and sipped drinks and mostly gabbed about topics unrelated to our lives at work.

It was a really memorable trip and I'd never done anything like it before and I feel really lucky for having been invited and also I am never flying commercial again.