Monday, August 25, 2008

A day of exasperation

I have often wondered what hell might be like, and I can tell you, I think it involves hundreds of copies of hardback books, hotels spread out across the city, donor requests, high security, no food, and a sore leg. But let me go back a little. My day started at 6:30am, getting picked up by two my colleagues to drive to a former NDIer's house to pick up hundreds of Madeleine K. Albright's new book to provide to our participants at check in. We loaded all the boxes of books into our minivan, and took off for the airport hotels followed by a few downtown hotels.

We then ran back to our headquarters to pick up information packets, credentials, and welcome totes for our major donors and board members. Piper and I then took to the Denver streets (neither of us knowing the city at all) and proceeded to hit up 10 hotels attempting to leave this material for our honored guests. Only complication was that every hotel in Denver was so overrun with convention security issues and massive check-in's that they either refused to accept the packets or didn't know what to do with them. After literally 5 hours of this running back and forth, being turned away by swat teams, and trying not to loose it we were burnt. Finally at the 2nd to last hotel we were told that one of our high profile board members' room had been canceled and he was supposed to check in that day. I couldn't access my e-mail to get contact info, couldn't call anyone to fix it because it had been a block of rooms from the Wisconsin delegation, and couldn't get the hotel to explain what happened. While Piper fought with the hotel inside, I sat in the van trying to figure out what to do. I hadn't eaten all day, which makes me a very very cranky person. Realizing I had a protein bar in my bag I got it out relieved that I had something. Right at that moment, an old couple walked up to my open window and said "we're homeless, starving, and have AIDS." I stammered with the protein bar held up in my hand and said..."um, I don't have cash but I have this bar." And of course they took it. So now I felt like a schmuck and had nothing to keep me from going batty. When piper returned we drove on to the last hotel and then dropped me off to get changed for that evening's event.

When I got to the hotel I jumped into action to try to figure out how we would manage to fix the board member's room. Every hotel in the city was sold out and the chaos made it even more difficult to getting anything done. After about 5 frantic e-mails, 4 frantic phone calls, and 3 hours, I got in touch with my key contact at the hotel and convinced them to provide a new room at the same rate. Crisis averted! Now to get ready for the events!

As I got out of the shower I got a phone call saying that Secretary Albright was arriving to speak at the opening panel and I needed to meet them at the door to show them to the green room. Still in my towel and no where close to the conference center I had to call around and arrange for someone else to escort them through and try my best to get there in time to work with her chief of staff to schedule a few side meetings. Of course when I went to dry my hair, half way through the drier broke. 35 minutes later the front desk finally brought me a new one. With my phone ringing every 2 minutes with questions about hotels, donors, and board members, requests to pick up kinko's orders, and my need to get to the conference center in 5 minutes I was about as stressed as one can be. As soon as I was done getting ready, I ran to our van (that I'm not supposed to drive being so young and all), hopped in, and tried to find my way back to our meeting space. I managed to find parking, ran inside and got there just in time for Secretary Albright and Howard Dean to walk by me into our holding area.

After the panel we gathered everyone for the opening reception in the ball room. While i had been running around, a few hundred foreign dignitaries had descended on Denver. As horrible as the day was, meeting Secretary Albright, helping to escort Dean, seeing Nancy Pelosi come and speak, and mingling with our guests made it ok.

After our reception I headed out with my boss and a few of her colleagues to a party hosted by a prominent law firm. There we ran into Harold Ford who knew one of the women we were with. We chatted with him for a while and then wandered around the Denver Art Museum admiring quite an original party. Towards the end of the night I saw Rob Riggle of the Daily Show standing across the room. Egged on by my boss I walked over to chat and joked around with him for a bit (very nice guy!). Finally after about 1.5 hours we were all too tired to make much more of a night of it. Luckily my boss gets a driver and car for the week so we were all escorted back to our hotels/dorms to get our much needed sleep and pray for a less stressful day.

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