Jukebox Skipping

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday HTD

Four years ago today I decided to walk to a bar by my house and write about my experiences while I was in there to amuse a few friends.  There was no goal in mind, it was just something I'd always talked about doing. Which made waking up to the following note on Twitter this morning pretty cool.

Well, to say there was no goal in mind isn't exactly true.  I told Mrs. HitThatDive that if I could get just one story written about the newly created "HitThatDive" I would consider the entire thing a rousing success.  Mission accomplished...and then some.

What's happened in the four years since my first post is something I never saw coming, not in a million years.  For the grand total of $0 I've ever made from the blog, I've lost count of all the friends I've made through the occasional sporadic ramblings of HTD.

For those that don't know, when my family and I moved to Nebraska nearly 10 years ago, we knew nobody.  And I mean NOBODY. No family, no former classmates, no one. I moved a wife and three young children halfway across the country for a job that, well let's just say didn't really work out, and we found ourselves stranded in Omaha with our closest friends roughly 1,100 miles away.

Mrs. HTD had no real problems meeting and making friends with the Stepford wives of West Omaha. But our choice of location in which to buy a home, because we knew nothing about the area, proved to make it far more difficult for me to find a few dudes that shared my love of old bars and generally just liked acting silly.  Men of West Omaha...live a little...will you!

Wait, where am I heading with this?  Oh yeah...HitThatDive.  A funny thing happened a few months after starting HTD...I got an email from someone I didn't know that said he and his wife love reading the blog.  First thoughts I had were "People actually read this shit??" Knowing that people other than my friends in Pittsburgh and Washington, DC were reading on a regular basis gave me enough encouragement to keep going. So thank you Mark and Becky Wells.

HTD meandered on for nearly a year, I was written about in December of 2010 by Omaha World-Herald reporter Josefina Loza, so I had already met my "lofty" goal.  By May of 2011, interest seemed to wane in what I was putting out there (well it was in my mind anyway) so in a shocking move to those that know me (not) I said "F*** THIS!" and deleted the HTD Facebook page and Twitter account and stopped writing about bars all together.

For whatever reason, on what would have been the first anniversary of HTD, I decided to log into Blogger to see if anyone had clicked on any of the reviews that were still on-line. And what do you know, my second review ever written (The Elbow Room) was being read like crazy.  So I posted this question on HTD to see what the hell was going on. This was the response I got back:

"I found out because someone I know, that goes there frequently, posted it on Facebook as a kudos to Ben. And since we're all very proud of the Elbow Room and our bartenders, we all had to spread the word! Thanks for the great review! Hope you can stop in again!"
Apparently that was the only encouragement I needed to create a new Facebook page (from scratch) and a new Twitter account (a note about deleting a Twitter account, you can't use the same name twice which is why it's now @HitThatDive1) and started writing about bars again.  What's happened since then...well...that might take me too long to ever put into the proper words.

It would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to thank everyone that I need to thank properly.  I just did a quick count and nearly half of the 314 people that I'm "Friends" with on Facebook I met directly from HitThatDive nonsense. And that number doesn't even scratch the surface of the friends I've made from doing this...old men on flip phones aren't really down with social media ya' know.

Although, I suppose I can thank the one person that's made HitThatDive possible...and that's my wife. There might not be another woman on the planet that condones and encourages her husband's "hobby" of dive bar hopping quite the way that Shelley G does. So thanks wife!

By the end of today, HitThatDive will have been read more than 500,000 times.  I'm not sure if that's good or not, seems like a lot to me, but I'm sure Google gets that every .08 seconds.  Ultimately, numbers don't really mean a lot to me when it comes to the fun I have from doing this....it's the friendships that I've made that make the whole thing worthwhile.

In a recent interview I did with Tom Becka I said "If HitThatDive means something to even just one person, it means something to me."  For those that continue to read and play along with all of this after four years, I can never thank you enough.  Here's to some of the best friends a person could ever have...now will one of you deadbeats buy me a shot tonight so we can celebrate? Cheers!

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