Dave and Dave, and Dave, and Alexis, and other tales of AWS serendipity

#cloudbeers is an impromptu gathering of people that spend more time than they would necessarily like at tech conferences; and have an appreciation for the outputs of the fermentation process. There’s a Facebook group and the occasional tweet, usually along the lines of “At . Anyone fancy a beer?” You get the picture.

“At AWS re:Invent. Anyone fancy a beer?” asked a guy called Dave on the #cloudbeers Facebook group last week. Id never met Dave but I was at AWS and, indeed, I fancied a beer so I responded. I said I wouldn’t be available until later because I had some meetings — I actually wanted to walk the expo floor, get a few demos in, pick up a t-shirt perhaps. Which was fine, we arranged to meet at 7.

So off I went, becoming just another of the 30,000 strong delegates, partners and staff attending the event. Easy to get lost in the throng, lose track of time. I went to a few stalls, eventually alighting on Intel’s partner stand where I could see a number of demos (and get a free notepad. One was a presentation by a guy called Dave. I couldn’t spend that much time, after all I had plans for the evening.

So I thanked him, headed upstairs to change and then to the bar. To say it was busy would be an understatement — the various watering holes were holding either sponsored events or a ‘free beer’ pub crawl which actually meant hour-long queues. I sent a message to Dave on Facebook suggesting another venue and… surely not… but that face looks awfully familiar…

Ten minutes later we’d met, and yes, it was the same Dave. I’d already bumped into old friends and colleagues but this was something else. We laughed heartily, drank beer and wondered just how likely it was that I told Dave I couldn’t see him later because I was meeting the same guy, who I then had to leave because I was meeting the same guy.

A couple of days later, as all good things come to an end, I checked out of the hotel and had my boarding pass printed. To my surprise the flight was earlier than I remembered — 3pm rather than the evening — so I rushed to a meeting and then headed straight to the nearest taxi rank, at the back of the Venetian conference centre. Nobody waiting ahead, so I headed for the first taxi.

As I waved, I saw a guy arrive behind me. “Want to share?” I asked. “Sure,” he said, in an English accent. As we got in the cab, I turned to him and my eyes narrowed. “Haven’t we met?” I asked. Then I realised where. I had hosted a panel of retail IT execs for Rackspace a while back, and this person was one of the panellists. His name was Dave.

So of course we chatted, and when we arrived at the airport we headed through security and sat together in the main area as neither flew often enough to have lounge access. As we sat, I saw my old friend James, who certainly flew enough to qualify, walk through with a couple of peers. I didn’t clock who they were as I rushed up to James to check if myself and Dave could be his, or indeed their guests.

“Sure,” said James laconically, after checking with his co-travellers. I rushed back to get Dave, and it was only as I returned and caught my breath that I looked at who they were. “Haven’t we met?” I asked one. Then I realised where. I had hosted a panel of open source execs for Rackspace a while back, and this person was one of the panellists. His name wasn’t Dave, but it was Alexis.

There we have it. In the space of 3 days I had blown out Dave to meet Dave, then met Dave, then met Alexis who I had originally met in the same way I had met Dave. All in what is already the strangest place on the planet. Absolute coincidence, of course. And I remain completely rational about the whole thing.