I showed up to the industrial docks of Fort Mason a bit unsure. This part of Fort Mason looks abandoned but surprised me with refreshing establishments of all sorts. Museums, libraries, art galleries, restaurants, etc., all tucked inside rows of old warehouses on the water. Too bad most were closed by five, and it was now six.
When I finally found the “fire house,” I was welcomed by a team of folks dressed up as JetBlue flight attendants and pilots. The room had a small table of hors d’oeuvres, a bar, and a DJ dutifully blaring tunes to the handfuls of people standing in clumps eating finger foods. A small adjoining room had a small buffet of hot hors d’oeuvres.
I grabbed a pink drink from a tray of pink drinks, carried by a server in a white dress shirt. It was grapefruit juice with some kind of whiskey, a jalapeno, and a rim of Habanero and salt. A bead of sweat dripped down my back as I sipped. I was wearing an olive-green t-shirt with a pocket and grey pants with a pair of casual New Balances. One of my nicer tees to be fair, but I think I was the most casually dressed attendee so far.
Why was there no art on the walls to look at? Or some informational packets? Anything! All I could do was stand there in the center of the smallish event room alone, sipping my pink drink. The two standing tables were full so I had to set my drink on the water fountain to get bites to eat. I started to wish my girlfriend in Florida, or one of the buds I’d invited, had been able to make it.
“Chill! You know how to go lone wolf,” I told myself.
I noticed another dude standing alone, so I greeted him.
“You here alone?” I asked.
“Yep, I don’t know anybody here so I’m just kinda standing here eating.”
Joe(not real name, in case he prefers anonymity) is an easygoing guy. A Berkeley grad and San Francisco native who manages an auto rental branch. This was the first person I’d met who had the same strange interest in the “points&miles” hobby I learned about early this year. We discussed credit cards, travel, and our common interest in baseball.
My second drink was the color of a margarita. Again some kind of whiskey, this time with ginger beer. Can’t go wrong there. A lady server with icing-filled strawberries, garnished with a chocolate sauce and a tiny sprig of basil, offered the tray about seven times over the evening, and I graciously accepted each time.
The host of the party wasn’t there yet. His name is Brian, and he started what is now one of the most successful travel websites in the world, thepointsguy.com. He ran a photo contest that ended in a San Francisco scavenger hunt for the five finalists. This event was the end of the scavenger hunt, where the winner would take home one million JetBlue TrueBlue points, worth somewhere around $10,000. It was also a meet & greet, and the whole event was sponsored by JetBlue and Barclaycard. He had a drawing on his site to determine who would get invites, so apparently I had some luck and got an invite.
I got a beer from the bar, and headed out to the porch with Joe and another lone wolf we met who worked at Google. The cool evening breeze blew my hair into a bird’s nest as we looked across the water at Alcatraz.
“That doesn’t look like such a terrible swim,” I thought.
But I had seen the video of a Great White getting gnarly air to take the life out of a seal not far from these very docks.
People started streaming back inside, so we followed the herd back into a substantially more packed party. The Points Guy, TPG, had arrived.
I ran out to feed my meter but was stopped by the procession of TPG and sweaty scavenger hunters from a trolley bus into the party.
Inside the packed party hall, people surrounded TPG for selfies, questions, and business and story pitches, as the line for the open bar tangled through the room. TPG towered over almost everyone in the room and seemed to be a super nice guy.
After a short speech from TPG, an impromptu talent contest broke out, with the winner getting a free roundtrip ticket to New York on JetBlue’s new Mint Class.
The lip syncing man was good, the dancing man was entertaining (see below), and the woman doing the worm in a dress showed off a little more than she maybe intended, but the woman who brilliantly claimed to have a talent for “making the room awkward” won the contest by simply taking the mic, asking if anyone had sunglasses, mumbling a few things, and miraculously causing a fellow to proclaim loudly, “I feel awkward! I do. She wins!”