A Big Show in Chicago

As I write this it’s mid- November and I’m packing for the Wisconsin Deer hunt, and planning to join the 600,000+ members of that Blaze Orange army that attempts to thin out our state deer herd each year. That’s more armed folks than the US has in most countries where we have troops fighting. I think the Insurance companies cheer our efforts every time they have to settle another damage claim for a vehicle hitting a deer. A recent article says those collisions happen 236 times a day in Wisconsin during this peak time of the year. So, venison in the freezer is far better than venison through your windshield.

However, as you read this, it will time for finalizing plans to attend that big ASHRAE show that fills Chicago’s McCormick Place every third or fourth January. Its numbers are not as big as Wisconsin’s deer hunt, but 50-60,000 of your closest HVAC friends can still make for a pretty large event. It’s tough to find a hotel there if you don’t start early.

I believe many of you have experienced that event. The Company used to send multiple bus loads of us down there for a day, to see the big show which our Industry puts together. Any product, or piece of one, or service, or business, or vehicle, or schooling, or tool, or printed material, or whatever could possibly be used in an HVAC function is represented there, ten times over. So you probably have a story to tell as well.

Since I am still serving my life sentence as a Life Member of ASHRAE, I plan to get down there for both the Trade Show at McCormick and the Technical meetings and presentations which are the core of why ASHRAE exists. Since our former company did pull out of that show for several years before we bought (merged with) York, I believe I’ve been to more Chicago ASHRAE shows than JCI has in the past 45 years.

Since many people stay in our industry for much of their career, there are many familiar faces there to reconnect with, regardless of where they are now employed. For me, my name tag will just say “Retired”. One of the best places to find that crowd of familiar faces is the 5:00 PM Amtrack train from Chicago to Milwaukee on the final closing day of the show. All the Locals are headed home. Only some of them are fellow Johnsonites. Others are vendors, customers, professors, students, competitors, and maybe even a relative. Once this HVAC stuff is in your blood, it is a permanent affliction.

Now back to digging out my blaze orange, and packing the cooler. I’ve been told there is also some holiday during this deer season. I guess that is why all the bars serve turkey that day of the week. In 45 years of marriage to my lovely and understanding wife, we have only shared that meal once. That is the year she came along hunting.