Winter excavations are well underway at Chez Daisyfae. It is amazing what one finds when going through boxes that were hastily packed many years ago. While digging through the storage room, i found a box containing the journals* i’d kept all through high school. After a brief excursion down Painful Memory Lane, i put that box aside and kept plowing through. A bit of a dark cloud amassed inside my head as i mulled over the words i’d written at the age of seventeen…
Moving on to a box full of old photographs and work memorabilia, i found a piece of paper that stopped me in my tracks. i laughed so hard that i made the cat jump! The photo, from a hotel surveillance camera, carried me back to one of the goofiest things i’ve ever experienced.
Several years ago, i served as general chairman for a large international technical conference. The conference would be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – a wonderful city. We planned the conference for several years, and i worked very closely with event planning staff at the hotel – and we got along very well.
Expecting around 700 attendees, we knew that about a third would be from Europe and a third from Asia. It was my goal to make sure that every single attendee had a grand time, and went home feeling good about their experience in this little river town. We put together a solid technical and social program, and our evening events included a massive banquet held amid exhibits at the Carnegie Museum.
After that banquet, my major ‘hostess’ duties were done, and i could relax. i relaxed by throwing a party in my room. As chairman, i was given a two bedroom suite, with full kitchen, dining room and entertainment area. We made the best of it! My admin assistant and i had spent the Sunday before the conference making jello shots (“vodka jellies” to my friends in the UK). We laid in enough booze, wine and beer to inebriate an army. We’d brought food as well.
The party was “invite only”, but we still had about 200 people coming and going through the course of the evening. Teaching the art of the jello shot to the world! An international jam session started in one bedroom, when a senior German technologist grabbed my guitar and performed Leonard Cohen. One colleague learned the hard lesson that one should never do vodka shots with a Russian – she drank him under the table, or under the toilet in this case.
My friends on the hotel staff knew about the party – they were invited. The next day, one of the event planners found me at the conference headquarters room.
Stephanie: Did you have a good time last night?
daisyfae: It was a throw down… We tried to manage the noise, and keep the guests contained. Hope we didn’t cause any problems.
Stephanie [giggling]: We caught one of your guys on camera at about 3am. He came down to the front desk…
Stephanie: We had a guy show up at the desk wearing nothing but his glasses and underwear! He’d locked himself out of his room.
daisyfae: Are you shitting me? Who was it? Oh my god…
Stephanie [produces print outs from security camera]: Here are pictures from the cameras. He came to the desk, and was apparently pretty drunk. The night attendant offered help, but she couldn’t understand what he was saying. Finally, she just asked him ‘What is your room number, sir?’ He got agitated and kept saying “What is YOUR room number?” She had some help from security, and they got him back in his room. We just figured he had been at your party!
daisyfae [jaw on floor]: Oh shit. [staring at picture] i don’t recognize him – he wasn’t in my suite last night. But i’m certain he’s with the conference.
My admin assistant, and a few of my friends, spent the rest of that day trying to figure out which guy at the conference was pictured in the photo. We finally identified him – it wasn’t easy with his clothes on. i tracked Stephanie down the next morning.
daisyfae: Not only is he with the conference, but we comped his room! He’s an invited speaker! Be sure to tell your staff that he’s staying here for free!
The next night, there was another party – this one hosted by a key industrial sponsor. Chartered riverboats, Monte Carlo gaming, and another throw down for the conference attendees.
Hanging with our group was my friend, JP, who had also been helping us identify the Drunk Naked Russian from earlier in the week. As we get back to the hotel, he realized that somewhere along the way, he’d lost his room key. Stopping at the desk, he asked for another.
As the woman behind the desk asked for his room number, he recognized her as the desk clerk from the Night of the Drunk Naked Russian. With the goofiest accent he could muster, he shot back “No! What is YOUR room number!”
* Picked up the one on top, chronicling the summer after my 3rd year of high school. Read far enough through it that i decided i may need to burn these. My escape from the Trailer Park was not a sure thing… i was reminded that it could have ended very badly for me.