Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conference Drama!

Most of us have attended a conference at one time or another. As most of us who have attended a few knows it is always held at some extravagant resort, hotel or lodge. The scenery and activities soul purpose is to convince you that you are having fun and distract you from the brain numbing presentations you have to sit through while trying to stay awake. Usually conferences keeps you busy during the day and during the evenings you are free to do as you please; if you are attending with a fun crowd the evenings makes up for the dreary day. The conference I attended was not your usual kind and from the start I should have known I was in for a long couple days. On the day were due to arrive at the conference venue we were delayed for about 2 hours due to a luggage crisis. As luck would have it I was not the only one of the group who the term “traveling lite” meaning seems to elude. We struggled to get all our equipment and luggage into the vehicles we were due to travel in. After much deliberation & intelligent negotiation by those of us with more than 1 piece of luggage and who refused to leave any luggage behind, we agreed to use an extra vehicle. Still all the vehicles were packed to capacity not leaving much room for a comfortable ride.
On route we made up some time. Closer to our destination we stopped to refuel. This should have been a 10 minute stop that turned into yet another hour delay. Apparently 1 of the staff at the fuel station did not see the big red letters on the fuel cap that read “DIESEL ONLY” and decided to full the 1 vehicle up with unleaded petrol. Now, I admit not knowing much about cars, but I do know that this should never happen. Luckily the driver saw this before starting the engine otherwise it could have been a very expensive repair. The driver, bless his soul, has a very clam demeanor. He was the only person there that was not threatening the poor fuel station assistant with grievous bodily harm. Eventually the car was towed into town, the fuel tank drained and a major disaster averted. As the car was being towed the rest of us decided to proceed to the conference venue that was said to be only 20 minutes away. As we left the fuel station everything seemed to be back on track. Little did we know that all 3 remaining vehicles entered different coordinates into their GPS’s. The vehicle I was travelling in was the only one with the correct coordinates but we were following the convoy. When our GPS lady told us to turn left the convoy turned right. After a few times of this happening I started to smell a rat but kept quiet. 20 minutes turned into an hour. Eventually it got dark and we were on a treacherous dirt road in the middle of nowhere – We were lost! We re-grouped reconfirmed the GPS coordinates, confirming ours was right and set off again. In the dark of night we made it through the bushes of the "African Wilderness" and realized we took a 3 hour unscheduled off-road-detour. We arrived at the conference facility 6 hours behind schedule, all very tired, annoyed, and covert in dust. This was not a pleasant trip! Luckily it was a 5 star resort and the rooms were spectacular and the staff very friendly, understanding and helpful. We all unpacked, and headed off for supper after which we were due to have a short meeting that turned into a 3 hour lecture. This was a brief glimpse of what was to be ahead for the next few days. We started working at 8am sharp each day until 11pm, with a few breaks for food and much needed smoke breaks. I soon realized I was there with workaholics who had no intention of having fun and would work 23 hours a day had it not been for a few people that started to fall asleep shortly after 10:30pm on the dot every evening. Being such a small group sitting around a conference table with our laptops playing computer games also was not an option as at least 4 people at a time had a full view of your laptop screen. There also was no Internet connection. Hence some people dozing off!
Apart from working long hours the venue also seemed to have wanted to fatten us up. They served us what felt like a 100 mouth watering platters of snacks each day. At first the food was delicious but after day 2 I started to feel like the Marshmallow man, and by day 3 the mere sight of a savory or sweat platters of food made me cringe and eventually I lost my appetite. I am convinced all of us who attended to conference returned home a good few pounds frumpier.
On the last day of the conference I had reached the point of exhaustion where if I opened up my mouth it would be to utter either sarcasms or grunts. My body had reached its capacity of taking in information, cocktail party like snack platters and friendly resort staff asking me if I had slept while they fully knew I only had a few hours of sleep. As the last few hours were ticking away I was monitoring the pending end on my laptop clock with my mind fully focused on returning home. When the final presentation was done I felt the same way as I did while in school when the last bell of the school day rang, I could smell my freedom! The return home was uneventful – this time we all had the correct GPS coordinates, no cars had to be towed and we all returned safely back home, all tired, all a few pounds heavier and all more informed.

Having been to a few conferences I must say this one may have been one of my least favorites. Maybe it’s because it still is too fresh in my memory. Who knows maybe in a few months from now I will have a good chuckle about all the preceding drama. It was like no other conference I have ever attended. No one got drunk and disorderly, no person gambled away their money, there were no one nightstands (that I know off) and we actually worked which probably is how it should be. I got to know some of colleagues better, gained more respect for their work ethic and realized I can put in a couple of 20 hour work days if I have to, but it’s not preferred!

Till next time.

Margaret Cho - These Christian Groups Have Lost Their Minds


Written said...

WOW! I could sense how boring it was for you to have to go through the whole thing!

"..all tired, all a few pounds heavier, and all more informed". Nice sarcasm going on here :D

Pierre said...

lol! Thanks Written, after a week of 18-20 hour days I was kinda fed-up (excuse the pun) towards the end.

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