I don’t “love” many things, but I do love travelling…traveling…going places. It makes me feel important to go places, like I have “business” to take care of here or there. Airports have always fascinated me, train stations too. This week I’m in Baltimore, Maryland, the Inner Harbor area for an education conference. So far, very little has gone well.
1. You’d think that the people arranging the hotels would have arranged for a Monday night arrival because the first day of the conference was Tuesday morning at 8am. Not everyone lives close enough to drive here Tuesday morning, and I’m sure those people were here last night. Not me. Why is that important? See #2.
2. The headline in today’s paper says, “Water Main Break Disrupts City.” That means it took almost two hours to get from the edge of the city to my hotel room. I’m on Light Street. At least a block in each direction is closed to traffic. I had to park two blocks away and walk to the hotel, check in, then walk four blocks to the convention center in order to be two hours late. In the picture below, my hotel is the large building right-center. The positive is that I can walk around easily without getting hit by a car. Helps when walking the damn dog, which they luckily allow here for an extra fee of $100.
3. I hate conference presenters. They made you do stupid things just to kill time. They LOVE these friggin’ things they call “ice breakers.” It’s a dumb thing to get you in a conversation with others, and it helps the presenter waste about 15 minutes. It’ll go something like this: “Okay people. You’ll each find an index card in front of you, and a pen. Just write the month in which you were born on the card. Okay, now everyone who wrote a 1, 2, or 3, you gather in this corner of the room. Those with 4, 5, and 6, this corner of the room…” And then we just introduce ourselves and pretend we don’t want to punch the presenter.
4. I hate conference presenters. Our agenda for the day says lunch is from 11:45 to 1pm. The presenters said, “Hey everybody, we want to help get you out of here as early as possible (translation – WE want to get out of here a.s.a.p.), so if you want, we’ll cut lunch to 45 minutes instead of an hour 15 minutes, and then we can all leave 30 minutes early. Okay? Raise your hands if you’re good with that.” And then pretty much everyone raises their hands. And then I sit quietly, and then I stand and raise my hand and say, “Excuse me, sir. Here’s the thing. You gave us an agenda that said lunch is until 1pm. I made plans to have lunch until 1pm, and it’s a little unprofessional to put people on the spot with that request. If 99% of us raise our hands to end lunch early, that puts unfair peer pressure on the 1%. So you can do whatever you like, but I’m not coming back until 1. Just letting you know now.”
This does two things. 1. It lets me take my time at lunch. B. It asserts myself so that neither the presenters nor anyone else is going to mess with me the rest of the week.
5. I hate conference attendees. They’re rude. They carry on conversations and ignore the presenters. They are just happy to spend a school district’s money on hotels, bars, restaurants, and have no interest in learning what they’re here for. Meanwhile, I can’t hear the presenter, and I have this stupid empathy thing that causes me to feel the embarrassment that I imagine the presenter is feeling. Also, I know the presenter hates the disrespectful attendees, and then I feel part of a group that’s labeled disrespectful instead of being judged as the individual that I am.
6. I do stupid things. Look at this door to the room across the hall from mine. See the two different door knockers and peep holes? I thought it was the cutest thing. When I saw a hotel staff member approaching, I asked, “Hey, that door. That’s cool. Is that for kids?” He said, “No, sir. That’s for disabled people, like those in wheelchairs.” All I could do was imagine that someone was wheeling up behind me right then and there to give me some kind of evil eye, which would be fully deserved.
So, day One is over, it’s officially 101º, and of course the local baseball team is playing away, so there’s not much to do except – complain.