Kids, you won’t read this until Thursday afternoon at the very earliest (because that’s when I’m gonna schedule the post to go live). But I’m writing it on Wednesday night. As I type these words, I am three and a half days into a week-long training conference.
I won’t say what the training is for because it’s a really great thing that I’m actually excited about being a part of. However, being three and a half days into this thing, it’s difficult to keep my cynicism completely in check. That means I’ll probably be saying some things in this post that will be construed as negative and will make it sound like I regret being here.
Let me state, before I really get going, I am excited to be a part of this conference. I’m excited about a great deal of the things I’ve been learning and will learn over the course of the next two and a half days. It’s a fantastic program and, if you know me in real life, I hope you ask me about it when I get back home and am in a better place to discuss it in a much more positive light. As it is at the moment, I haven’t seen home since 5:00 a.m. on Sunday. I’m tired. I’m cranky. And despite the exposure to warm weather a sunny skies, I’m homesick.
Any complaints you see here are a reflection on conferences in general. Because the thing is, this a typical conference. If you’ve never had the pleasure of taking part in a corporate sort of conference, then you likely don’t know what I’m talking about. Actually, everything over the last few days is fast becoming a blur, so I might not even know what I’m talking about.
There’s an issue I have with every conference I’ve ever been to. It’s that there’s a certain percentage of the thing that you can expect to basically just be a sales pitch. Speakers write books. And when they speak at conferences, they want you to buy their books. Or videos. Or branded apparel.
This conference has at least four sessions a day. And in each session, I can expect to hear someone say, “This is a great resource that you can pick up…” at least twice. And then someone else will remind us of all the great resources we can pick up during our half hour breaks between the sessions.
Which brings me to my next thing… The days are long. Yesterday, things began at 8:30 a.m. Things were finished at 9:30 p.m. That’s a 13 hour day. Six sessions. Lunch and dinner breaks worked in. Tomorrow will be the same way. So will Friday. I can say that Monday and today were not quite as long. Felt like we had an early day off when things wrapped up at 5:00.
With all that going on, there’s really not any time to enjoy sunny Orlando. I’m a stone’s throw from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And I won’t get to see it. No butterbeer for me.
I really don’t mean to complain. The place we’re staying is gorgeous. It’s the kind of place I would never shell out the cash for on my own. Thing is, as nice as it is, they’re at the tail end of what was touted as a $20 million renovation. This means that sometimes the elevators might not be working. I’m on the 14th floor. I’m okay with the elevator not working if I have to go downstairs. But if I have to go up? Yeah…
Not all of the meals are provided as a part of the conference. But that’s what the grocery store is for. That’s why there are Pop-Tarts and cold cuts and a fridge in the room. As for the meals that are provided…
Look, if you’re a fancy conference center with fancy meals for your fancy conferences and you’re gonna force a salad on me as the first course of every meal, can you do a little better than iceberg lettuce? I know, the guy who doesn’t really care much for veggies of any kind complaining about the kind of lettuce they use in the salads? But seriously, if it was spinach, it’d be a lot better. Giving me white lettuce is like giving me solid water. I know, I’m a picky eater.
And you can tell that the median age of attendees skews a little older. I’m pretty sure I’m one of four Millennials here. And I only slide into that generation on a technicality. If you couldn’t tell that it’s an older crowd by looking around the room, you could definitely tell by the fact that they showed a video today that showed us the basics of how to navigate a website. A website!
On the plus side, there have been a lot of celebrity lookalikes at the conference this week. I’ve seen George RR Martin (minus the hat), Tyrion Lannister (but taller), 1984 George Michael (complete with blonde highlights but without the stubble), the old guy from Up, River Song, Jerry/Gary/Larry/Terry from Parks & Recreation, and Don Rickles.
Y’all, it really is a great conference and I’m learning a lot. Overall, I have definitely enjoyed my time here, in spite of all the role play activities that are, for some reason, mandatory at all of these things. I guess I’m just really looking forward to getting back home.