Conference - Day 1 of 3

On Friday, the first day of our annual conference, I worked the first of two consecutive fifteen-hour days. I managed about a half-hour break for lunch and a half-hour break for dinner, and spent the rest of the day running around like a madman. In the morning, our registration table was hit with an onslaught of people looking to get their badges and materials before the program began later that afternoon. In the afternoon, we were hit another onslaught, and then another, usually coinciding with the impending start of another panel. Thankfully, we’d learned from last year and had a pretty efficient system down. One person became responsible for checking the registrant’s name off of a list, and a second person became responsible for handing the registrant a folder of materials and either grabbing a preassembled badge or assembling a new one.

Our biggest obstacle was the awful odor of wet carpet emanating from beneath our table. None of us could explain it, nor could anyone on the hotel staff. It only got to me when others pointed it out, but it bothered the rest of the crew of volunteers almost constantly.

That was our biggest obstacle, but it wasn’t the only one; there were plenty of other obstacles yet to come. Fortunately, most of those bumps in the road would be felt only by those of us working behind the scenes; the attendees of the conference were generally impressed with the way it all came off.

After a long day, my boss and I were scheduled to have dinner with some of the big-wigs at the hotel restaurant. But, in the end, the service was so incredibly slow that we had to leave the table without ever consuming more than one beverage a piece and perhaps a roll or two. Time is in short supply for a two-person outfit responsible for planning and organizing a conference of two-hundred and fifty individuals, and we had other places to be.

We ended up getting our dinners comped and brought up to us while we watched over a film-viewing session to make sure none of the equipment went haywire. That was around 10:30. By then, very hungry and a bit loopy after a long day, the film, which was in Egyptian with French subtitles, was far more amusing than intended.