After a solid run of opportunistic geek luck, our adventure hit the skids in Houston. Rob and I boarded near the end of the plane. I congratulated myself for having had the forethought to reserve two seats in the Exit row. As soon as we sat down, I learned that my self-congratulation had been premature. Our seats would not recline. Doh! A few seconds later, Rob realized that he had left his Pocket PC sitting on a bench in the concourse. I said, "Run! You have time." But I knew he would be cutting it close. The bench was a full length of a concourse away: around 1/3 of a mile. Good geeks never abandon their devices and rob fought through the incoming line and exited the plane. Three minutes later, the cabin attendant began to close the cabin door. In a fright, I jumped to my feet and protested. "My friend is out there. He said he'd be right back." I was buying time. Airplanes wait for no one. Two minutes later the captain came back to survey the situation. I merely pointed to Rob's bag. The captain ordered the door closed. My fellow passengers were growing restless. I heard the ramp began to squeak away. The attendant stared through the foggy porthole. I put my hand on Rob's bag, intending to buy a few last precious seconds by demanding that they offboard it. Imagine being stuck in a far away airport with no wallet, no phone, no ticket and a disappeared friend and airplane! Suddenly, the attendant opened the door and in popped a red-faced Rob.
"Did you find it?" I asked.
"No, somebody took off with it. That phone has everything on it", he said. Trying to put a good face on the situation, I talked about Rob's loss as an opportunity to buy a new phone. Rob is crestfallen. En route, he tried without success to contact his mobile carrier over an AirFone line to disable the phone. The AirFone connected him to an automated system which he suffered through for 20+ minutes. Finally, he reached a live human and discovered the problem: the mic on the AirFone was defective and he could not be heard on the other end of the line.
Dejected, we arrived in Orlando at 1:10AM, an hour later than originally scheduled. In the baggage claim area, we separated from our fellow passengers to track down our bags, which arrived on a different flight and a different airline. After a few minutes, I ran into Eric Sink, of all people. Erik arrived on an AirTran flight and his baggage was not on board. I would later learn that his most precious cargo, two built servers containing demos of SourceGear's newest product, a cross-platform client for Team Foundation, had been lifted from their bags in transit, presumably by baggage handlers in Atlanta.
At 1:20AM I found our bags, which sat serenely inside the locked, glass-walled, and obviously abandoned Alaska Airlines baggage claim office. At 2:30AM, Rob and I gave up on trying to find a living human being who could permit us access to our bags. They were so tantalizingly close. We could almost touch them. We retrieved a rental car at 2:40AM, drove to our hotel, and my head hit the pillow after a shower at 3:15AM.
At 5:20AM, I awoke and called the Alaska Airlines baggage claim office at MCO airport. They had opened at 0500 hours and a nice lady named Elsie assured me that she could deliver the bags "sometime today" or we could come pick them up.
At 5:45AM, Rob and I drearily retrieved our bags. Once again at our hotel, I tried to regain my sleep without success. After a quick shower and shave and donned my Microsoft blues. Rob was soundly asleep, despite my noisy preparations and three botched exits. I boarded a bus for TechEd at 7:30AM and arrived at the Orlando Convention Center in time for a fitful breakfast and a back row seat at Steve Ballmer's 9:00AM TechEd keynote address.
TechEd is abuzz with energy. WiFi is spotty but the conversation is lively. SteveB's keynote was packed, wall to wall, with developers and ITPros looking for something to get excited about. If you're in town, drop by the community cabana and chat with me, Josh, Betsy, Sandy, Doug Seven, or any of the other members of my team. We're stoked to be here and want to hear from you.