My Found Friends, My OutofHomies
By Daione Sanders
Director of Sales at Carvertise
It all began on March 26th, 2020.
A few weeks after the world found itself in a state of isolation and lockdown, I had a calendar invitation titled “Geopath & OOHToday — Virtual OOH Happy Hour and Networking”.
On this zoom were about 90 perfect strangers from all over the country, and a few outside of it, from different segments of the industry, trying to make sense of the unimaginable situation we all found ourselves in. For all, it was a devastating time. Our livelihoods were all pinned to the term “out of home”, the very place that no was allowed to go.
The hosts, a Kym Frank & Bill Board, went around the seemingly endless square boxes of heads on a screen and had everyone introduce themselves and their company. Week after week, the virtual happy hours continued, the once strangers were now familiar faces. The conversations centered on how to overcome the obstacles, how to keep up morale, how we could collaborate to help each other, and how to find the light at the end of the tunnel. In times of desperation, this group was consoling and confiding in each other to pull through.
“I will host this each week until we are out of this” said Kym Frank. Little did she know this proclamation would commit her to supporting this industry through a string of very long months.
The weeks turned into months, and as our life, and industry fought back to the world we once knew, our group attendance waned. Before you knew it, all the square boxes tuning in filled only one screen. The conversations turned from our jobs, to our lives, and real personal relationships began to grow.
Some nights, the happy hours lingered for hours. Spouses/significant others and children made appearances, the only tears that were now being shed were those from hysterical laughs. Themed weeks were hosted, holidays were celebrated, and even a talent show was performed. Our group had such commitment to our weekly calls, that no matter where we were, a train, a car ride, a sports game, eating dinner – we tuned in to our weekly chats, and for two years we became a consistent part of each other’s lives.
We dreamed and hoped for the day that we could all be together, finally meet in person, and that opportunity found its way to us.
This week, upon the white sand beaches of Marco Island, was the celebration of our industry resurgence at the OAAA/Geopath OOH Conference. Filled with anxiety and excitement, we shed tears of joy as we finally embraced each other, the group that saw us all through the worst times, to the best.
A friendship no one expected, a bond no one can explain. We have opened our homes, our hearts, shared our life together, been a part of so many experiences, laughed and cried, and supported each other through it all. The most challenging point of our professional life brought us together. I love this industry for many reasons, but mostly for bringing me these wonderful people that I now call friends.