September 19, 2012—Dallas Texas
When the call went out asking for local ACFW members to come early and help set up for the conference, I volunteered. Although not strictly local, I was able to drive from Georgetown in about three hours and help out. It was 6:00 a.m. when I picked up my Georgetown friend Ann Bell who was riding with me to the conference. I planned to be to the hotel by 9:00 a.m. for me to help stuff bags for attendees. Bing and Google maps, plus the GPS in the car said we'd be there in plenty of time. What the computers didn't foresee was the rush hour traffic and construction. It was 9:20 when we got to the hotel and 9:45 before I got to the room designated for bag-stuffing volunteers.
I love the simple jobs. Having been "in charge" for so many years of my working life, I now enjoy the routine assignments. What we did was grab a bag, then put in a folder, a conference program, an ad for the bookstore, and a name tag holder. The filled bag was then placed in a box. Most of us walked around in a circle doing that while others hauled off the boxes of filled bags. The boss, Cheryl Wyatt, said we were faster than last year. I enjoyed hearing people talk about their books, their agents and their publishers. When I was asked about my books, I showed them my ad on page 48 of the conference program.
Next, I went to the bookstore to help setup. It wasn't nearly as much fun. My job was to inventory books on various tables. With a partner, we counted books and compared the results to an invoice. We then made notes of any discrepancies. Everything seemed confusing to me and I never felt I was doing much good. I left rather than ask again what I could do to help. Those in charge seemed too busy doing and not spending enough time managing, but that opinion is based on a very short time on the job. I have to admit that when I went back to the bookstore after it opened for business, it looked great and appeared to be well organized.
I ate breakfast so late I wasn't hungry when it became time for lunch. I worked in my room until registration began at 4:00 p.m. When I got my bag, I checked to make sure it had everything in it.
I ran into Ann Bell and we had a coke in the bar while we waited for the restaurant to open. The buffet included pork tenderloin, salad, vegetables and several other choices. Everything was great, including the pecan pie and cherry pie I had for desert. After dinner, I watched TV and reviewed the conference schedule.
Based on my experience today, I think next time I won't arrive so early. I got here around 9:00 a.m. Wednesday and the first activity is at 3:00 p.m. Thursday.