Welcome to Town

29 02 2016

I gave a presentation at a big conference recently at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. This is the second largest convention center in the country, and it is big. I walked from one end to the other, and I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the way, I crossed the Georgia state line. 


There was somewhere north of 16,000 people attending the conference and approximately 1,000 scheduled to attend the session at which I was to speak ( I believe about 500 actually showed up!). 


The quiet before the storm

The quiet before the storm

I stayed at the Hyatt Regency- not the Waldorf Astoria but still a really nice hotel about a half-mile walk by sky-bridge to the convention center. The hotel is a large 27 floor hotel with its own conference center, large enough to handle a good-sized conference itself.

Hyatt Regency-Orlando

Hyatt Regency-Orlando


While I was standing at the front desk checking in, I noticed a young, 30-something couple standing next to me. He was pulling a red suitcase on wheels and she carried a blue duffel bag with white trim. We all got checked in at about the same time and headed for the elevators. They seemed to be lost as they walked just ahead of me, which is understandable given the size of the hotel. So as they walked along gawking at the size and opulence of the place, I heard her say, “Where ya reckon the elevator is?” Having been raised in the South, I am fluent in Southern so I offered the helpful guidance of a seasoned traveler. “Just follow the signs and that’ll get you there,” I suggested. 


The young man then saw the sign for the elevators and turned to me, “Thank you, sir.”


Sir? I thought to myself; who is he calling sir? It’s easy for me to forget I have a 40-year-old child.


So as we stood together, waiting for the elevator, I noticed the name tag on the red suitcase. It had the name Margaret Starling with an address in Opp, Alabama. Assuming he was pulling her suitcase, as I was pretty sure he wasn’t Margaret, I said to the young woman, “Margaret, are ya’ll in town for the Grainger Show?” She told me they were but her name was not Margaret. I told her I assumed it was because of the name on the suitcase her husband was pulling. “Oh, we borrowed it from my mom. My name’s Mindy,” she told me.


Okay, I’m thinking- rookie travelers. Rookie travelers borrow a suitcase from friends or family and then stuff it with two weeks of clothes for a two-day trip. Rookie travelers buy one of those silly neck pillows to use on the plane. Rookie travelers wander the hotel looking for the elevators. I’m not slamming rookie travelers, mind you. It was just an observation. 


So, we exchanged a few more pleasantries as the elevator arrived and the doors opened. When we got inside there was an identical panel of floor call buttons on each side of the doors. I remind you, it’s a 27 story hotel- the young woman exclaimed in her south Alabama drawl, “My gosh! Look at all them buttons! I ain’t never been in an elevator with that many buttons.” I believe the tallest building in Opp, Alabama is Mayor Rob Nester’s two-story chicken coop.


The young man then responded, “I ain’t never been in an elevator with buttons on both sides of the door!”


Clearly, they were impressed and clearly, they were no longer in Opp. 





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