Road trip to Toronto, Canadian beer and Kenny

I love Canadians. I really do. Not only am I fortunate enough to be in the company of some lovely Canadian colleagues who dish out the American jokes as quickly as I poke them with an “Eh”, but also I consider myself an aficionado of beer, hockey and maple syrup. Not to mention, I have a thing for moose. Consider it a mountain girl thing, but I think they’re awfully adorable. For these reasons and many more that shed light on my glowing personality (but we unfortunately lack the time to adequately explore in this single post), they crowned me an Honorary Canadian. I’m not lying. This honest-to-God happened nearly two years ago to the day. It was a very proud moment and I have an impromptu concert to thank for making some of my professional relationships more personal.

Melissa, Denise, SteffAugust is the beginning of I-hate-it-but-I-love-it season within the automotive industry. It’s kind of the checkered flag setting the pace for the next 500 laps or, in our case, the next six months – SEMA, PRI, Keystone Big Shows, NTEA and more. Our team was prepared and excited for the upcoming Canadian event, divied into caravans for the trek across the border and welcomed the long week with a “Game On” attitude. A couple days before the trip, an industry friend offered me two extra tickets to the Kenny Chesney show taking place at the Toronto Amphitheater – no strings attached. Oh wow, what do you know. I’m going to be in Toronto on trade show business. SCORE!

Chesney ConcertSIDEBAR: Now, you have to understand the context of this situation. A) I’ve been made fun of for many years and have rightfully earned the Kenny Chesney Biggest Fan in NEPA title. B) I reference my Kenny Chesney stories in the familiar – I just call him Kenny and everyone around me knows who I’m referencing even if there are three others with the same name in the room. C) I attend the show each year in Philadelphia where my flip flops are firmly planted in the sandbar section for optimal viewing.

BACK TO THE STORY: The only catch was we were coming home on Sunday and the show was taking place the following Thursday. Buzz kill, I know. Most responsible people would evaluate that situation and determine the following:

  • One week prior, I was cramped in the third row of a minivan with my colleagues for eight hours and then spent the next couple days moving pallets, setting up booths, helping with the show, tearing down and getting very little sleep during the entire process only to get back in the car with those same fantastic colleagues (who really are fantastic, by the way) and make the eight hour trip home… in the same third row of a minivan. Logic would sound something like this. “I should respectfully decline the free tickets that require additional time off, another 16-20 hours round trip to the same city I was in less than a week ago and, again, have no sleep.”
Photo Credit: B.Neeley
Photo Credit: B.Neeley

Instead I accepted immediately, extended my 100 thank you’s and figured the rest would fall into place. And it did like so many other spontaneous adventures do. My sidekick Neeley and I had a couple of days to plan our route of attack and secure arrangements. Our bosses gave us their blessing to work out of the Toronto office for two days (to this day, I still wonder if the request was granted because of their motherly enjoy-it-while-you-can understanding, fear of me crying like a child if we were told no or a combination of both). We hit the road Wednesday night after work, making sure to load up on coffee, carbs, sugar and mixtapes. We arrived just before 3 a.m., settled in for the night and showed up to the Toronto office on time the following morning (surprisingly). The following 48 hours included breakfast in a corky art gallery on the first floor of our B&B, a walk around the city, a FREE Kenny concert, an autograph by Kacey Musgraves, my first Tim Horton’s experience and heaven on Earth at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse (which also included two Torpedo IPA’s that went straight to my head) – all of which made good office talk.

Toronto, you’ll forever be remembered as the city I visited twice in one week, heard “Kenny who?” more times than I can count, crashed a Carnival setup and initiated a bond with some of my favorite people, which eventually led to my reign as Honorary Canadian.

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