The Lighter SidePosted: September 17, 2008
In a group of 110 people — as at the CWW Fall Workshop with Lee Gutkind this past weekend — you encounter all sorts.
It is a given that some will be hot, and some will be cold. The temp is set at 68, and we hope for the best. But with that much creative energy and hot breath, who knows? Late morning, Nancy grabbed my arm in the hall and said, “I want you to take a picture of that woman with the thick coat and hood on.” We laughed and I snapped the picture.
Before every workshop we host, I send out an email telling people to layer. Wear a sweater, I say, or a jacket that you can take off if you get hot. Sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it’s warm. If you’re real cold-natured, bring an Arctic parka with a hood. She took me at my word…and was probably glad she did.
A man came to our door with a wool blanket in hand. “My wife called and said it’s cold in this place…told me to bring her this.”
Meanwhile, the sweat rolled down my forehead, I saw Angela fanning with a program schedule, and I watched Ginger zoom by barefooted with a box of Miss Daisy’s lunches in her arms.
I headed to the bathrooms to re-stock toilet paper. It takes a village to put on a workshop and everyone in the village doing odd jobs.
“You got paper in Stall 2?” I asked.
I handed her a roll under the door. Angela and I refilled all the rolls in the stalls and wiped the countertops clean and dry. Should you hear a rumor…it’s absolutely true. Yes, Kathy Rhodes went in the men’s restroom…and stocked it with toilet tissue. The men don’t seem to use as much.
Speaking of restrooms, during the morning session there was a rash of people parading one at a time to the bathroom. Up during the speaker’s presentation, out the door on the left, slam, bang. Back in, slam, bang. Why didn’t people pee before the event started? I did, whether I needed to or not. If I can hold it, anybody can. Maybe they drank too much coffee. Maybe they wanted to browse the Book Tables and buy Lee’s books during the break. Whatever the case, the slam, banging got distracting, so Michael and I decided he should park himself in front of the left door; we had to keep it closed because of noise in the working part of the library, which hosted our event. When people tried to go out, he pointed them toward the right door, which we kept open. Michael is formidable, and there was no more slam, banging.
But quickly, Michael got tattled on. I was standing in the hallway and people passed me on their way to the bathroom saying, “There’s a man sitting in front of the door and he won’t move and let anybody out and you need to tell him to move!”
“I put him there,” I said. “The repeated closing of the door is distracting.”
Another woman. “That man sitting in front of the door is against fire codes.”
“I assure you he’ll move if the building catches on fire.”
“Those boxes of lunches by the other door are against fire codes, too.”
“They won’t be there long.” I should have assured her we knew exactly how many inches of space we needed to pass fire codes and we were well within it, but I just smiled instead.
With 110 people you have to smile a lot. And you hope the speaker is so good the attendees won’t remember the cold moments, the hot flashes, and the threat of fire.
And Lee was that good.