This past Friday, I attended a Bridging The Gap conference at East Wind in Wading River, NY. Despite my hatred for crowds and other social gatherings, I always go because it beats driving 30 miles one way to work, I get paid to go, the food is awesome, and it keeps me out of the office. I got there very early as usual so I can have my choice of parking stalls. I chose a spot somewhat near the entrance, but on the other side of the lot where most people would avoid. Thankfully it was not as cold as it was the previous morning, so I was able to close my eyes for a few minutes.
I went to check in after 8am since I saw people walking in. Then I went into a huge room where breakfast was being served. I had a glass of orange juice and a few pastries. I stayed away from the coffee, given the crabby nature of my stomach, and it was probably too strong. I noticed the vendors had formed a perimeter against the wall. Seafield Centre is one of the vendors I am familiar with. I knew not about the rest. My agency did not set up a table. Most of the dining tables were crowded, but I found one that was only occupied by one person. I sat down and was able to enjoy the juice and pastries. Afterward, it was time to go into the room next door to start the conference. I was a little frightened to go in because all of the tables were crowded, and the sheer number of people. It looked like I would have to sit with at least six other people. But then I spotted a solitary chair in the back near the latrines. I didn’t know if anyone was sitting there or not, so I claimed it. As a bonus, there was an electrical outlet next to it. Sweet! I promptly plugged in my phone. I had made sure to bring the charger with me. The work phone was fully charged, but I did not use it. My personal phone did not require a long charge because I had turned on the power save feature before I left the house. At least two other people plugged in their phones also.
Almost immediately there as a lot of women going past me on their way to the latrine. There was not a lot of room between where I was sitting, and the table full of people in front of me. For the whole conference, the traffic never let up. Only one guy went past me to use the latrine. I needed to use it a few times due to the blood pressure pill I took that morning, and it was so clean that it was almost blasphemy to leave a mess behind. On my right was one of the loudspeakers, and twice there was a loud screech which almost put me on the ceiling! I was ready to kick the bloody thing over! So you may ask why did I not move? Well, I was near an electrical outlet, the latrine, I was sitting by myself, and I did not want to give up that spot.
After 12pm, we had a break for lunch. I waited for the room to empty out, then I joined the lunch line in the next room. There was quite an array of meat and pasta dishes to choose from. There was a separate table of vegetables for the vegans. I had the stuffed shells, grilled chicken, string beans, and carrots. The beverages of choice was water, Pepsi, and Diet Pepsi. I cannot have Pepsi, aka “drain cleaner,” so I settled for water. I walked all over the room looking for a place to sit, but I did not find a seat. I found an unoccupied table in the hallway and I ate whilst standing up. No one bothered me. I felt a little embarrassed, but oh well. I was sitting all morning, so being on my feet didn’t bother me. The meal was delicious. I was packed solid!
Sometime after 1:30pm, we returned to the conference room. We were all given a bag of these stretchy caricatures that looked like aliens that were supposed to represent us during times of stress. The idea was if we are stretched too far, we will snap. The speaker was Barbara Rubel. I’ll post a link to her site on the bottom of this page. She talked about different subject, including compassion fatigue, and engaged all of us in thought provoking activities.
Somewhere near 4pm, the conference ended, and we went to get our certificates. That was a nightmare. The crush of people reminded me of rush hour in NYC. There was no room for everyone to form a proper line. The tables went by last name, such as A-D, M-O, etc. I was near the end, and no, I did not use the name that appears on this blog. I had to use to my real name, so I was near the end of the table. I received my certificate, and went to fetch my car. Thankfully, there was not a lot of cars where I parked. I had no problem getting out. It was bumper to bumper traffic due to everyone leaving at the same time, but once I got to my turn off, it was a smooth ride home.
I got a few nice things like a bag, a notepad, a small ice scraper, and a pen. I would have gotten more stuff, but most of the vendor tables were crowded. It is worth nothing that the women at the conference seemed to outnumber the men by 20-1 odds. I know my office mate was there because I saw him that morning. This might my last conference because I put in an application at a bus company. A hiring day will be happening on December 11th, and I dost not foresee any problems to be hired. I hast applied at this same company many moons ago, but at the time, I did not even have a driver licence yet! I hath taken the bus and walked uphill to the corporate office.
This is the website of the conference speaker, Barbara Rubel: https://www.griefworkcenter.com/
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Sat Nam.