I set out for NAB to work the Zylight booth and see what is new in lighting as I have done for the past 4 years. Yes there were some new LED products and a lot more knock offs that you need to be cautious of.

I didn’t know how different NAB was going to be for me this year. You see life happens. I received a call Monday morning around 5:30 am Las Vegas time from my wife. Her Dad had passed away. He had terminal cancer, so I knew it could be any day.

The show went well although it seemed different. A side from the passing of my father in law, the attendees just seemed less engaged than in the past. None the less we had a great show.

Monday after the show I was on my own. (My colleagues had business dinners to attend.) I decided to walk from the Las Vegas Hilton and Convention Center to Walgreens to get some bottled water while I figured out what I was going to do.

I was walking through the vacant parking lot across from the Hilton and texting my two brothers in laws. The text read: “I am saddened by the passing of Joe. I would like to celebrate his life and remember him as a father, husband and as my father in-law. He will be missed greatly. I am thankful that my kids got to know and love him as Grandpa.” Just as I pressed send, I heard a woman’s voice asking if I had any money. I turned to see this black women with a winter coat on standing alone across from a small plaza. I asked her what she needed and she said she was hungry. I asked her where she wanted to get food and she pointed to McDonalds.

I said I will walk with you. As we were walking I saw the Denny’s and offered to buy her a meal there instead of walking all the way to McDonalds. She was struggling to walk so she happily agreed to Denny’s. I held the door open for her and we walked into Denny’s. The waiting staff looked at me funny and took a step back. I turned to the women and asked her if I could join her for dinner and she smiled and replied that would be wonderful.

We were seated behind a tall divider so that we would not be in plain view of other diners. When the waitress came over, she handed us the menus and took our drink orders. Valerie (I asked her, her name) ordered a coke and a strawberry smoothie. The waitress went off to get our drink order. Valerie opened the menu and this big smile came across her face. She announced that she loves the T-bone and shrimp dinner with rice pilaf.

The waitress returned with the drinks and Valerie quickly pulled the smoothie towards her and began to drink. When she got her breath, she ordered the T-bone steak with the shrimp skewer and pilaf. I ordered the chicken barbecue sandwich.

Valerie’s face lit up when the food was brought out. As we dined I asked her where she was from, what her plans are and about her Mom & Dad. After about an hour, it was quite clear that she was savoring every bite. I told her that I had to get going and that I was taking care of the bill. I assured her that she would be allowed to stay and finish her meal. I thanked her for the company and went to pay the tab.

After paying the check, I found the waitress and gave her a nice tip. I asked her to see to it that Valerie stayed until she was done and then instructed her to prepare the leftovers to go.

When I left I glanced back through the window and saw Valerie still smiling as she continued to eat her meal.

You know sometimes life happens. That was the highlight of NAB 2011.