Saturday, November 17, 2012

AAR/SBL Day1, or a comedy of errors

Day one is always the most tiring day for me. I make sure I stick around the booth to answer questions that may arise. About 4:30, I usually realize I haven't sat more than about 15 minutes all day. This year was a bit different, though.

Eisenbrauns always attends ASOR before AAR/SBL begins, but we have always ended Friday around noon. This year, because both are in Chicago and we had staff coming up for Saturday, we decided to sell at ASOR on Saturday as well. Merna volunteered—or was volunteered, not sure which!—to man the ASOR booth on Saturday. The plan was to close up there around noon and then have me drive from McCormick Place to ASOR's downtown exhibit and help her pack up.

Problem: I have a "clipped" driver's license. What that means is that I have a new Minnesota driver's license coming and am still using the Indiana one with a clipped corner and a piece of paper saying that the new one is in the mail. The problem is that the paper expired and the new license came the day after I left for Indiana. So, essentially, I have no driver's license. While the probability that I would be stopped was small, that was not a chance I wanted to take! The profit margin at conferences is thin enough without a hefty fine like that to pay.

So, Gina drove me up there so I could play pack mule for the books. Commence comedy of errors. Gina assumed I knew where the ASOR hotel was; I assumed she knew. We got out of the parking ramp and she asks where we were going. I looked at her with a mystified look and said that I thought she knew. She pulled off to the side of the street while she entered the name of the hotel into the GPS. We knew it was the Marriott on Miracle Mile. Fine, the GPS sent us down Michigan Ave. No problem...except that the festival of lights was going to happen Friday evening. And there was going to be a Disney parade at 5:00 PM. And they were going to close Michigan Avenue to traffic and pedestrians. And everybody and their brother seemed to be downtown.

Fine, so it just will take a bit longer. But the GPS took us to the Marriott Courtyard on the Miracle Mile. Gina dropped me there, not knowing it was the wrong one, and went to get gas in her vehicle. So, here I am in the wrong hotel with no idea where the correct one is. So, I called Merna. The call dropped before we could say anything. That happened three times. Finally, I got through, found out that the hotel was only about a block or so away. No problem.

Once I got to the hotel, I went up to the 5th floor, found Merna and we went to get our empty boxes to pack the books in. The room was locked. No one was at the registration desk. No one with a key was anywhere on the floor...not good.

I went down to the first floor, found someone with a key, and they opened the room for us. We packed up the books and proceeded to the first floor. Now we had to contact Gina, warn her that the GPS sent her to the wrong hotel and try to get her to the correct one. We couldn't trust the GPS, though. It had sent her on a wrong path the night before as we tried to tell her where to go and how to get back to us, but one way streets downtown can be a problem...

We finally got reunited, loaded the car and headed back out to the massive amounts of traffic. We made very slow progress, and I had an appointment to choose next year's booth locations. It looked like I wouldn't make it, so I called Jim to have him cover for me. No answer. So, I called Andrew; he answered, but he and Jim both had a meeting at the same time I did. Bummer. Major bummer. If you miss your appointment, you risk losing a choice spot. Andrew did get a hold of Dan, though, and Dan said he would go. The problem is that Dan had never done this before and wasn't sure what to do...

Well, we managed to get to Lake Shore Drive and from there is was smooth sailing. We made it back to McCormick Place 5 minutes before my meeting. I moved quickly to get to the meeting. I got there only to discover I had the wrong time...I had another 25 minutes!

We got the booths we wanted.

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