Dear Lord, order my steps. Help me to get the most of this day. Help me to make the right contacts and leave the right impression.
I woke up early and got ready for my first full day at the conference. God is going to open doors today. I know it. “I might as well go down to the lobby and get some orange juice and a doughnut.”
I gathered up my schedule and purse, and shrugged into my coat.
“Hmmm. I didn’t know I left one glove in the pocket. Hey, this is weird. It must be inside out! I didn’t know it was reversible.” I pulled the sleeves back through and tried to zip it up. “Wait a minute. I have a thigh-length, furry deep purple coat. This looks nothing like my coat except for one thing. It has a big hood like mine!” I cast a long look over the coat I was wearing. It was light gray, with a smooth thread design sewn into the cloth and it came down to my calves. I took the WRONG coat last night. That made me giggle. “I’ll just have to hang this one up again. I hope mine is still there. Better make my way down to the lobby. Hope I don’t trip. This coat is pretty long.
~ ~ ~
I sat down to wait for my ride to arrive. My cell phone read 7:30 am. Sally said she would arrive at around 8:15 am so I had a bit of time. I set my cell phone on my lap. 8:20. 8:30. 8:40. As the minutes ticked toward 9:00 am, I began to panic. “Oh no. I have a meeting with an important editor first thing!” He would think me irresponsible. I made a quick phone call to one of the organizers. And then to another. I explained my situation to them. “Please tell him I will not be able to make the time slot and will have to reschedule.” |
“I’ll see he gets that message. Do you want me to find you another ride?” one of the woman asked.
“Yes! That would be great, if you could.”
9:00. 9:10. 9:20. 9:35. 9:40. Sally breezed in. “Sorry, luv. The plumber arrived to fix our shower and it delayed me.”
“Uh, no problem.” I called my friend and canceled the ride my friend had promised to arrange. I forgave Sally. After all, she didn’t have to help me at all, yet here she was. The early meeting with the editor must not have been meant to take place.
Sally dropped me off at the entrance to the conference. “You are speaking in fifteen minutes in room 210.” I didn’t want her to be late for her own session.
She paused, her hand on the clutch. “You mean next hour.”
“No. Doesn’t the session start at just after 10:00?”
Sally glanced at her watch. I looked at my cell phone.
“That’s right. My phone is set to Eastern Standard Time.”
Didn’t I feel foolish! I would be a few minutes early for my editor’s appointment. No danger of missing it now! I rolled my eyes.
~ ~ ~
“Can I help you find where you need to be?” another conferee asked me.
She caught me squinting to see the room number. “I’m just looking for the session on Narrative Non-Fiction.”
The woman checked her schedule. “You’re right. That session meets here.”
Not wanting to draw more attention to myself, I plopped down in the first chair I found and watched others arrive. Led by a well-known editor from Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), one of the five biggest Christian publishers in the US, this session sounded promising. I studied the room and changed my seat. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself when I had to leave and meet with an agent. “Well done!” I complimented myself. From here, I could just slip out of the room. Time to go. I stood up, opened my cane and left through a door right behind me. Painless.
“Wait a minute. This is not where I want to go. This is a walk-in CLOSET!”
I slapped my forehead in frustration. And a little amusement. Then I gathered my courage and stepped back through the same door and into the room again. The speaker stopped. I felt a sea of eyes on me. Oops. I directed my loveliest smile at everyone, then moved off. With the help of my cane, I made my way to the glass-pane door to my left and out to the hallway. This has got to take the cake!
Little did I know that Mrs. Magoo would strike again at the Professional Writer’s dinner I crashed later that night. I didn’t meet the professional criteria stated in the guidelines for attending the dinner but I wasn’t sure what else to do with myself. I guess the others who don’t qualify just go home. I really didn’t know what to expect or who attended what. So I just hung out and tried to be inconspicious.
I don’t want to miss it when authors read their writing after the dinner. I think it’s okay if I just sit down here. I found an empty table and waited. I read my program from beginning to end. One of the attendees whispered something to Mark. A few minutes later, he came over and handed me a plate with food. “You’re welcome to join us, you know. We don’t bite.”
“Thank you,” I gulped. “I couldn’t!” But I did.“Well, I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” I justified. Really, getting in on the dinner was quite a coup. I got up from where I sat and scouted out a table with an empty spot. Then I scooted over next to one of the guest speakers, “Hi, I’m Amy from Pennsylvania.” Poor vision had its perks!
We got acquainted. “There’s a table with drinks over there. Can I help you get something?” my companion offered.
“No, I’ll be fine.”
This turned out to be my downfall.
Iced tea sounded good so I made my way over to get some. I picked up a Styrofoam cup and turned on the small spigot. Whoosh! The cup flew to the floor. Uh-oh. I bent over to pick up the cup but didn’t realize the ice tea was still flowing out. I thrust the cup under the spigot but it continued to flow onto the floor, making a messy river under the table. Huh? What’s goin’ on?
A woman rushed over. “Dear, there’s a hole in your cup. How odd! I’ve never seen anything like it.”
I stood back, mortified. My eyes darted everywhere. No napkin. No paper towel. What should I do? Meanwhile, the tea continued to flow. I didn’t have the presence of mind to reach over and stop it.
“Let’s turn this spigot off, dear. Don’t worry. You can’t see it but the cup has a big hole in it” the woman soothed. By this time, reinforcements had come. As the small crowd gathered at the table, I slunk back to my seat. Thank God, I’m supposed to be blind and don’t have to see this entire mess clearly! I picked up a fork and took a bite of my pecan pie, determined to enjoy the rest of the meal.
It turned out the speaking program took place in a different place from the meal. Well, I’ll know next year. Maybe I can save myself embarrassment. But listening to other writers read their work aloud–hearing “the writer’s voice” come out–was fabulous! Maybe I will be brave enough to do it one day.
That night, both my mother and my editor had their laughs over my various predicaments. It made me feel better when I told them what happened. Suddenly I was back on familiar footing – my adventures! Only this time, they involved me and my environment and had nothing to do with foreign languages.