Friday, April 15, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - The Sequel

I just returned from our bi-annual event where my company hosts IT executives and technology vendors to provide a first-class atmosphere and a place where technology solutions can be evaluated for future purchase. I can give you the longer pitch, but I'd lose you. It's quite a stellar event, but when it's over, we all take a breath, and definitely feel our age (at least those of us over the age of 35) and gear up for the next one in seven months. I wrote a post after our very first event and thought I'd recap the week in a similar fashion.

1. The flight to and from our Miami destination took us through Charlotte airport. Whoever designed that airport didn't factor in growth, or the lack of time between connections. Unlike Atlanta, or other larger airports that have different layouts, if you land at Concourse B and your connecting flight is in E, you have to hike through every letter in between. As I boarded the plane in Charlotte for Miami, I headed to my seat - 14F - and found it occupied by a man with his wife next to him. Before I could say anything, they said "Oh we sat in the wrong row." As their lunch was sprawled out before them (and I didn't have time to grab food during the connection and wouldn't even get a peanut on this flight), I didn't have much mercy. The man in Row 13 immediately offered to let me sit up there, but the principle of the matter was, I wanted the window. I thanked him, but said I really would prefer the window. The couple let out a few harrumphs and said "I guess we could move" and the very sweet man in Row 13 said, "Oh, you can have the window." Now I'm in lucky Row 13, in the wrong seat. If the plane crashes, they think I'm married to that man who sat in the wrong row. Thankfully none of that happened.

2. Our five-star resort didn't live up to our expectations. I won't mention names, lest I get picked up in a Google search and their lawyers come after me. But, let's just say it's a resort in Miami that hosts many a PGA tournament. A little Internet research and you'll probably figure it out. The biggest issue at this hotel was their lack of available water. The hotel has a main building where you check in, then all the rooms are located in lodges around the peripheral of that main building. In the 90+ Miami heat, you head toward your room up and down hilly pathways and when you arrive, parched and in need of water, you find two bottles in your room of Evian and Fiji water!...with a price tag of $5 per bottle. Drats! Then, you see an ice bucket - success! - and drag your dehydrated body to find the ice machine. But, it's nowhere to be found. And this lack of water and beverage throughout the event continues. This, my friends, is just a little glimpse of what hell will be like, but, oh, so much worse...not only will there not be water, you won't have a dime to pay for it even if Satan had a lemonade stand. This analogy didn't hit me until right before I left, but I have thanked God more than once for my salvation from a place like hell. You want to hold revival in the land? Take them to this resort and withhold water. If the gospel doesn't reach them there, there hearts are way too hardened.

3. When we arrived at said resort, we were famished. It was 3pm and we hadn't eaten. We headed toward the restaurant in the main building after checking in and had an appetizer and meal. Getting a server to bring us beverages was a challenge (see previous hell reference). After we finally got our food, the server asked how our bills would be split. We asked they be separated and she inquired about the appetizer. We requested that it be split equally among us. Although the language was a bit of a barrier, she did speak English and we figured she understood. Au contraire, my friends. We got our bill and all meals were split equally. Sigh. Hard to explain that on an expense report.

4. I arrived on Saturday and when I got to my room, I turned down the air so the sweltering humidity would dispense in my room before mold began to develop. I slept well that night and woke up the next morning, took a shower and thought "Man it's hot in here." I just thought it was "Welcome to Miami" until I decided to check the thermostat...which was now a blank screen. Lovely. No air conditioning in Miami (see earlier hell reference). The very nice engineer came and said a fuse had blown or a breaker had tripped. Tripping, blowing, whatever, he took care of it, so when I returned to my room 14 hours later, I could breathe. Thank you Mr. Repairman. Evangelical note: There is no air conditioning in hell, much less nice repairmen.

5. The travel home started at 7:15pm from Miami and our plane safely hit the hollowed ground of Kentucky at 12:15am. We were one of the last, if not THE last, flight of the day and by the time we got to baggage claim, our bags were rolling on the belt. Much improved over our 30 minute wait for bags in Miami. As I rolled my luggage to my car, Bluebelle, and happy to see her, I headed out to pay my parking and get home to my own bed. The parking attendant said "Thunder is going to be a cold, rainy time this year." I explained that I'd been in Miami for five days, disconnected from reality so she briefed me on the weather happenings and forecast for this Saturday's kickoff for the Kentucky Derby Festival. As I drove off, I smiled to myself as I felt comforted that after a week in a town where very few spoke my language, I had a sweet lady that said "Thunder" and I knew she wasn't talking about a rainstorm. Dorothy sure was right...there is no place like home.

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