Saturday, December 05, 2009


So, here's a little amusing story.

When I was in college, I worked summers for a very upscale Country Club. It was poorly-kept secret that this club was mafia-owned and -operated but a very evident secret that only the creme de la creme were able to afford membership. I worked in events, first staffing banquets and later managing them. Oh the things I learned - about life, business, the importance of unbuttoning just one more button to earn that tip. Still, when functions start at $75 per person for the very basic of events, you quickly learn how things are done the right way, at the right time, for the important audience.

One of the lessons I learned early off is that, when one room is used for many functions (an awards ceremony at night, a golfers outing breakfast in the morning, a wedding cocktail reception at 2) said room is constantly in "changeover." Which means, it gets stripped of old settings and replaced with new in the blink of an eye.

And that's your background.

This week, I was on the West Coast to oversee a conference at which our business unit President, and CBL's boss, was presenting the Keynote Breakfast. It was a pretty big deal.

I've been in touch with the catering manager for weeks. The menu was set. The room set-up was set. The A/V was set. It was all good to go. The breakfast was Thursday morning, I was arriving at noon on Wednesday.

Scene: Plane touches down. I power up phone and BlackBerry. Almost immediately, BB starts buzzing.

Subject: Call me
Subject: Where are you?
Subject: are you here? worried about tomorrow's breakfast. boxes have arriv....
Subject: sent [Salesguy] off to look for catering manager. don't know how we...
Subject: have you landed yet? where are you? call me!

I do my best to take ten deep breaths after seeing these - and the rest! - of the messages and then call. I submit:

Me: Heya, how's it going? I just landed, I'm in the terminal waiting for my suitcase.
CBL: I was getting worried. We don't know how we're going to set up for the breakfast.
Me: Did the boxes arrive with all of the materials?
CBL: Yes. I have them stored here at the table. But I didn't know who to talk to about getting everything set up.
Me: Well, our banquet contact is []. But you really don't need to call her, because I'll be dropping off all the stuff in the morning.
CBL: But our breakfast starts at 7:30!
Me: Yep. But they're not setting the room until the morning, so it really won't make any sense to set up our materials on unlinened tables, would it? (subtle try at humor)
CBL: But how are they going to get it all done it time?
Me: They will. Trust me. They do this all the time. It will be fine.
CBL: Yeah. I've heard that before. But [Pres] is presenting at this one so I need to make sure it's flawless.
Me: It will be. I promise.
CBL: If you say so. I don't know. I'm worried. I'll get down there by six to make sure.
Me: Really, you don't have to be down there by six. I talked to [] today and as long as she knows where the boxes are, they'll have us all set up by 7 am. She knows I'm on my way and will stop up to see her. It's all good. I promise.
CBL: If you say so. I just really don't want this screwed up with [Pres] there.

So, to humor CBL, I showed up at six. We (the banquet servers and I) had the room set and pressed by 6:30. The AV was set and checked by 6:45. When CBL showed up at 7:15, I was trading WC Fields stories with the banquet captain.

So, all's well that end well, eh?

Well, yeah. Except we were presenting at the next day's breakfast too. And you'd like to think that CBL took lessons from this experience. But you'd be wrong...

It really sucks when you succeed and succeed and someone still doesn't trust you.