'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BEING AN EVENT PLANNER IS TOO STRESSFUL
Recently I discovered there are people who have the job title of Event Planner. These people get paid for organizing parties, seminars, conventions, etc. My only experience planning an event occurred a couple of years ago when my siblings and I organized a 50th wedding anniversary party for our parents.
That event turned out fine, but pulling it together was a very stressful ordeal. (Typical phone conversation in the days prior to the party: “Did I rent the hall? I thought YOU were gonna rent the hall, Jerry!” “No Bill, I’m bringing a ham, remember?” “Ham? I told you to hire a BAND!”) The next time around, I’m going to make sure I’m born without parents—it will be a lot less stress five decades later.
It takes a special kind of person to work as a professional Event Planner. The person must have superior intelligence, a strong work ethic, excellent communication skills, a photographic memory, and most of all, the person must be insane.
The only thing worse than getting paid to be an Event Planner is volunteering to be an Event Planner. I am in that situation right now.
I’m a member of an organization called ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers. Our motto is: “Air-conditioning is cool, and pocket protectors rule!”
A few years ago I was asked to become an officer in the Connecticut Chapter. If I agreed, it meant I would have the opportunity to get involved in the organization’s operations, I would assume key responsibilities, and most important of all, I would get to wear a neat nametag with the word “OFFICER” on it. So I said yes.
What I didn’t realize at the time, becoming an officer meant eventually I would have to spend a year being the Program Chairman. This is code language for: Event Planner.
So all this year I am responsible for organizing our monthly dinner meetings, plus a few other seminars and educational events. I have to book the halls, pick the menus, negotiate the prices, publicize the events, sell tickets, line up the guest speakers, purchase airline tickets and book hotel rooms if the guest speaker is coming in from out-of-town, and locate a working projector for the guest speaker (the word “working,” as I discovered, is an important consideration).
There are two reasons why being an Event Planner is a stressful job: (1) there are simply too many details; it’s impossible to remember them all. And (2) even if it were possible to remember all the details, at least half of those details are completely beyond your control.
Before a recent dinner meeting, I addressed every detail I could think of. I was as prepared as I possibly could be. And yet, the night before the event I tossed and turned thinking about all the things out of my control. What if there’s bad weather in Cincinnati and the guest speaker’s plane gets grounded? What if there’s bad weather here and no members show up? What if the hotel’s chef gets drunk and doesn’t show up? What if I get drunk and don’t show up? What if the projector doesn’t work? What if the hotel’s air-conditioning system doesn’t work? (That would be ironic, huh?)
I’ve noticed lately that my hair is getting awfully thin. It could be the normal aging process, but I suspect Event Planner stress is a factor. However, I’ve decided that being an Event Planner this year will be we well worth it next year when I can sit back and relax and watch the new Event Planner’s hair fall out.
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