When I originally filled out my registration for the conference, there was a section where I could select an "early bird session". Meaning: subject myself to a class that started at 7am. No person in their right mind would register for something so heinous, so I left the section blank.
Imagine my surprise when I get my registration cards in the mail, there is a ticket for an early bird session in there. It was either someones idea of a sick joke, or someone seriously put me down for this class, and thereby was begging to be bitch-slapped.
Upon conversing with my fellow colleagues on the matter, turns out they had all been assigned butt-ass early classes. I didn't feel so alone.
I figured I'd make the most of my conference experience and attend my early bird class. More CEU's meant less crunch time when the license was due.
I woke up around 5am, trudged to the shower, fell asleep in the shower, got dried, got dressed. All the while, I kept smelling smoke. I wondered if the hotel was burning down, shrugged, and went back to whatever it was I was doing.
I stepped out of the hotel room and the entire atrium of the hotel was full of smoke. Holy shit! The hotel was burning down!! Smoke everywhere!!! No one seemed too excited about it, so I just heaved my obvious burgundy bag over my shoulder, and gimped across the street to the Omni hotel, where the class was being held. Downtown Atlanta was thick with smoke, but it smelled like a campfire. I overheard someone talking about the wildfires in Florida...this was their smoke. The same thing happened in KC a few years back. Wildfires in some other state, and the smoke blew into our town. It was magical.
At the class, I give them my ticket and take my place at one of the big, fully set tables in one of the ballrooms, seated next to other bleary-eyed nurses. We were served breakfast, then someone gave an hour-long talk on whatever subject our class was about. In this case, it was all about infection.
After the class, I go to the general session where the keynote speaker was Kevin Carroll. Phenomenal speaker with a great message that had nothing to do with nursing. If you ever have the chance to go listen to him, do it. You might even get a red rubber ball out of it.
Today was significant because the expo floor was being opened. Over 500 booths, most of which would be handing out free ink pens. Nurses love free ink pens. That, and chocolate. The cooler the pens, the more we like them.
The doors were opened to the expo floor, and hundreds of nurses go pouring in. Some casually strolled from booth to booth, actually paying attention to what the booth was displaying, some stopped to talk to the vendors to get more information, others simply went to take anything that wasn't nailed down. These were the women you steered clear of. They were hell bent on a mission to collect as much free crap as they could get their grubby little hands on. I bet they are monsters on Black Friday.
I stopped to talk to a couple vendors. I actually had a very informative 15 minute chat with someone about a new type of rectal tube. I amassed more ink pens in one day, than I have accumulated in my entire lifetime. Some lit up and blinked. Some had fun attachments. I also managed to pick up a koosh yo-yo, some stress balls, penlights, hand sanitizer, a couple insulated lunch bags, post-it notes, some books, lanyards, sewing kits, lip balm, and other various odds and ends. My obvious burgundy bag was busting at the seams. As heavy as it was, I'm surprised I didn't blow out my rotator cuff.
You may wonder what one does with so much crap. Well, I'll tell you.
I stayed at the expo. All. Day. Long. By the time I was finished, my legs ached and my toes had swollen to the size of little Vienna sausages. Like a pack mule, I carted my day's booty back to the hotel and collapsed into bed. The tentative plan was for me to ride the MARTA to go see Kant, but all I wanted was a nap, and to not have to walk anymore.
Some of the other nurses in my group decided to attend a Braves game. I went to a Royals once when they hosted the Braves. I saw John Rocker. Been there, done that. However, I'm told that they ended up in the ghetto, fearing for their lives. One nurse was drinking a Cape Cod at some point. A police officer approached her, eyeing her glass.
Cop: Is that alcohol?
Cop: What is it?
Nurse: Cranberry juice
Cop: (incredulous) Cranberry juice...with a lime??
Nurse: (without missing a beat) Yes, that's how we drink cranberry juice in Kansas.
I got up from my nap and ended up having dinner with a drug rep as an afterthought. He took a small group of us to Mortons. There's one in Kansas City, but I have never been there. After looking at the menu, I can see why I've never been there. Probably one of the more expensive restaurants I have been to. How expensive? Let's just say that if a guy took you there on a date, it would almost be mandatory that you put out afterwards. For a group of nine, the final bill was somewhere between $600 and $700. Because he was a drug rep, and the dinner was his company's way of thanking us for using their product, I did not have to put out. I couldn't have even if I wanted to. I was too exhausted.
After getting back to the hotel, I conserved just enough strength to put on my pajamas and crawl back into bed, where I could dream happily of mountains of free ink pens.