We had convinced the governor to speak by promising to keep a very tight schedule. We started the luncheon at 12:00 p.m. sharp and the governor was to begin his speech at 12:30 p.m. We were right on schedule when the banquet hall doors burst open and a man entered with two, two-foot tall, fully grown, male, identical twin, motivational speakers. Before I knew what was happening, they were standing on top of the head table, doing a stand up routine. By the time order was restored, the governor only had time to say hello before rushing to his waiting limo. I was irritated until I realized the small guys were far more entertaining than the governor.
Several years later we hired Louise Mandrell to entertain. It was a big expense, around $30,000 plus expenses for a 60-minute show. When the doors opened, there was a crowd waiting to get in. The room was packed and Louise was giving a dynamite performance when I noticed someone running towards the stage. There are witnesses who will swear that when I dove to catch him my body was four foot off of and completely parallel to the floor. My hand touched his shirttail but I was too late to stop him from leaping up on the stage.
It was his birthday and through his drunken stupor he let it be known that he wanted Louise Mandrell to sing happy birthday to him. So at $500 per minute, one of country music’s most noted performers spent nearly ten minutes serenading a drooling but happy drunk.
I have first-hand knowledge of the kind of disaster that can occur when you bus people to an event. I was the Executive Director of an organization that rented the Wet and Wild water park for an evening event. We bussed over 500 people from the convention hotel for an evening of food, drink, swimming and water sliding.
At the end of the evening, I was in my hotel room and congratulating myself on a successful event when the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and heard, “Where’s the bus?” I played along and responded “What bus?” “The bus that is suppose to take us back to the hotel.” At that point I realized there was a problem and I asked, “Did you miss the bus from the water park back to the hotel?” I held the phone away from my ear as the caller screamed, “You moron! There are 30 of us; we didn’t miss the bus, we were left behind!” I told him to stay where he was and transportation would be there shortly. Fortunately, the hotel had a couple of vans and there were town cars waiting for a fare, so I organized a rescue cavalcade and we got everyone back to the hotel.
I later learned, that, after drinking too much beer, the staff person charged with making sure no one was left behind miscounted the number of people boarded and sent a bus back empty.
In over 25 years of managing conventions, I have many memories and stories: some sad, some funny; some that still make me angry, some that amaze me and some I can’t share in mixed company. Every year I listen to friends greeting each other, stories being shared and dinner plans being made and I am aware that new memories are about to be made.
I have decided to turn off the news: when riding in the car I listen to music or classic radio—Fibber McGee and Molly are hilarious and more sophisticated than you would believe—at home I eschew Katie Couric and the talking heads and turn to the cooking channel. I do so, because listening to doom and gloom occasions within me an almost overwhelming desire to hunker down; to not go anywhere or spend money on anything.
Here’s the deal: I don’t want to live my life fearful of tomorrow. There is little I can do about the economy, terrorists, salmonella tainted eggs, gas pedals that stick, global warming, swine flu, hurricanes or any of the other constant litany of disasters waiting to befall me. Bad, good or sad, I am going to continue making memories.
“What good’ permitting some prophet of doom
to wipe every smile away?
Life is a cabaret, old chum!
So come to the cabaret!” – John Kander and Fred Ebb