Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

A few weekends ago, the kids and I took the train down to San Diego to spend some time checking out the amusements and give Mrs. Winston some much-needed peace and quiet. Truth be told, my wife gave us the tickets as a “present,” but I suspect she just wanted us out of the house so she could catch up on her sleep and spend some time with her book club. I can’t blame her really; with the kids being home all summer and me being away on speaking engagements, she’s really had her hands full.

Besides, I rather liked the idea of riding the rails and imagined taking a leisurely stroll to the dining car and breakfasting on eggs benedict and sipping espresso while catching up on the sports page and silently mocking the poor fools stuck in traffic. So, it was with great excitement and enthusiasm that the kids and I boarded the Surfliner 768 to head down south for a nice relaxing weekend. After we settled in to the crowded train, I made my way to the “hospitality” car and was dismayed to discover it was little more than a rolling snack bar, emphasis on “bar.” The line snaked all the way upstairs and into the next car and was populated by frat boys and Bloody Mary seeking racing fans, and the closest thing they had to eggs benedict was an egg and cheese sandwich in a vacuum sealed plastic bag. Dejected, dismayed and more than a little hungry, I reluctantly headed back to tell my kids the bad news. I hoped they’d be able make it three hours without sustenance since all I had on me was a half full Pop Top Tin With Mini Mints that I’d picked up at a Glaucoma Convention in Boise.

When I reached our seats, prepared to break the news to my starving children, I was surprised to find them happily munching on fried egg sandwiches, fresh fruit and sipping what appeared to be fresh squeezed orange juice. It seems Mrs. Winston didn’t entertain the same romantic notions about train travel that I did and wisely (and thoughtfully) packed each of us a lovely breakfast in individual, easy to carry Transit II Lunch Box Coolers. She even thought to include utensils, napkins and condiments in the exterior pocket. Needless to say I was relieved and elated as I dug into my breakfast and promptly sent my lovely wife a “thank you” text to her iphone.

The lesson here is clear, “Sometimes it is the journey, not the destination—but if you take the train, pack a lunch.” Oh, and the coolers make great summer giveaways too—they are not only sharp looking (black trim with a red, royal or yellow body), but collapsible for easy storage. Simply add your logo, throw in a goody or two for good measure, and you have the perfect way to say, “We appreciate your loyalty.”

I’m headed to Monterey for The Quail Motorsports Gathering to test drive some of the new specialty cars. This time, I’m taking a plane; at least they have tiny pretzels and complimentary beverages.