I’ve written before about what I call Secret Clubs.  As we become interested in a particular topic or skill, we naturally learn more about it and/or get better at it through practice and experimentation.  We get excited about the interest, and share it with others.  Often we discover new friends and contacts through our new hobby or interest.  I call these ‘Secret Clubs’, not in an exclusionary sense, but in an inclusionary way, because we’re always excited about sharing our passions.

I recently received a text from a former colleague at the city of Carlsbad, with a picture of her feet on the carpet at the Portland (Oregon) airport, asking “So this is the “new” design? Looks very similar”?  She knew about PDX Carpet because I was a founding member of the PDX Carpet Secret Club in Carlsbad, documented by her super-creative gift of a set of ‘business cards’ presented to me at my retirement.

I had to inform her that, sadly, that was indeed the new design, and that it was a pale representation beside the old design, which I promptly texted her.  For those of you uninitiated, you can get the whole pdx carpet story on Wikipedia, but the tl;dr version is this:

The carpet was designed in 1987 and installed in the early 1990’s.  It was a departure from the then-prevalent earth toned carpets typical in airports, and featured a geometric design representing the intersection of the north and south runways seen by air traffic controllers at night.  By 2013 the carpet was showing its age, and a $13 million replacement was announced, with a NEW design!  Portland being Portland (Keep Portland Weird is more than just a bumper sticker), this revelation unleashed a firestorm of controversy and anguished protests, as the carpet had developed a cult following over the years (reference over 100,000 IG posts tagging #pdxcarpet).

Since our son Brian lives in Portland, we were familiar with the carpet.  The carpet lore includes some whispers about the original design being conceived by an engineer, which is easy to believe, and may have something to do with my fondness for it.  I purchased a pdxcarpet tie, socks and pocket square to wear on special occasions.  My greatest coup was to find a Lego store in Portland that had custom screen-printed Lego tiles with the carpet design (because of course, if you were creating a Lego version of the airport terminal, you would want that pattern).  I turned those into a pair of custom cuff links, to add the finishing touch.

To most people it was just a colorful geometric pattern, but as they say, “If you know, you know”.  It led to some great connections when people recognized it.  What are some of your own Secret Clubs?

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