I rub my eyes as this has been a long day. I am in Antwerp attending an IT conference which lasted the best part of three days already. I presented a few sessions too but if I had known that this session was going to start at 7:30pm, I would have thought twice about it.
I have been here since 09:00am to make sure that I have enough time to talk to some potential partners and chat with other delegates too. Networking is the name of the game, of course. The sessions running this year are all exciting, in a very techie sort of way, and I barely had time to grab a sandwich all day as I ran from one discussion to another.
It’s been a long day and the commute from Brussels meant that I had to catch an early train - and need to catch an early one tomorrow too. I gather up the rest of my stuff while my computer shuts itself down when one of the attendees interrupts me. He is a Frenchman who works in a similar industry and has many questions for me. I chat with him awhile and try to answer his questions as best I can.
He is soon joined by a handful of other delegates who evidently know him. They chip in with a few questions of their own and so I quietly but pointedly continue to pack and eventually start walking out. Determinedly they follow, still asking questions.
Outside the conference hall, I flag down a tram and as it screeches beside me, one of them asks me where I’m staying. I point out that since I’m based in Brussels, I’m merely commuting and am on my way to the main train station.
They shrug, jabber in French and cheerfully suggest that they join me. I groan inwardly at the prospect of having an entourage keep me company until Antwerp train station but nod and they all climb aboard.
Twenty minutes later we arrive at the station and they immediately start looking for a place where we can have a few drinks and continue talking a little more. As we walk in, I notice that there is a train about to leave to Brussels.
“I’m sorry gentlemen,” I say, “but I am going to have to leave. It’s already late and I’m not sure if there is a later one.” There is a moment’s hesitation and I half-suspect that they’re going to follow me to Brussels too.
Then they say their goodbyes and go to find a restaurant without me.
I breathe a sigh of relief and sleep most of the way home.
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