Sunday, October 3, 2010

OOW 2010: The Appreciation Event

By: Anonymous Unicorn
This post started as an email from a friend of mine (yes, I have one or two), who is also my unicorn (someone who has worked with me and would consider it again, there are so few). I thought it was funny and asked him immediately if I could post it, he agreed, but wanted to expand a little bit.

I did not attend the appreciation event, I gave my ticket away. At the Blogger Meetup, I looked at the lines to get on the buses and I didn't want any part of it. I gave my ticket away.

At the OpenWorld appreciation event they split out their 6 bands on two stages going simultaneously all night. They went all out...there was a carnival in the back where the rides and games were free. Of course with 41,000 people attending OOW the obvious drawback would be transportation, so being on the most popular bus route meant the better part of an hour standing in line both to and from the event. That was expected, but it was the food situation that stuck in my mind.

When we arrived, we swam through masses of people, Berlin playing on the outside stage, and English Beat playing inside a sound stage next door. Not having eaten in 7 hours, the goal was food and drink. After examining the two stages, and seeing no signs of food and drink, I had to get out the map. Everything was in the back, so away we headed following the masses. We got to the food tent...huge tent, nicely decorated inside and out. No food was visible, but we could see clusters of people surrounding what appeared to be circular table configurations, looked like a shark feeding frenzy. Must be food! We tried to lean into one of the feeding stations, and while we realized it was in fact food, being 5 people deep, I couldn’t identify what was there.

Fortunately a server came by and said there were 23 food stations in two tents and the second tent was less busy. We quickly retreated and shuffled amongst the heavy crowd, out of one tent and into the next. This one had 4 long buffets and a handful of feeding stations. While we could actually see what was being served here, the problem was everyone in this tent queued up and lines were LONG.

I stood in one line for a bit and realized that no one else knew what was going on either, they just got in line because that seemed to be the thing to do. These are all highly paid professionals acting like carnal beasts in one tent or lemmings in the other, men, women, old, young, no difference. To me both options were ridiculous so I went over to see what was actually on the table... it wasn't even food...just hors d’oevres like cheeses and grapes! Starving, I cut in real quick (which didn’t affect the stagnant line) grabbed a small paper plate and put a spoonful of couscous on a plate with a few grapes and stood off to the side devouring it within 6 steps as I scanned for the real food.

There it was! Small ribs, fancy spaghetti, can’t even remember what else was there because I never got the opportunity to eat it, but I decided to try by finding the end of the line... I kept walking until I realized I’d rather starve than stand in a line that long. I calculated each 4 table station is supposed to serve as many as 2000 people, and understood what the real situation was: survival. I took my small, but at this point, very valuable plate, and cut in for a few small ribs and decided to go watch Berlin until the lines died down. For now the immediate hunger had simmered down.

I watched Berlin for a few songs, shuffled in to see a few Don Henley songs in the sound stage, then reversed right back out to get in position for the Black Eyed Peas (because they decided to put their two best acts on at the same time). I suppose I made the mistake of trying to get close but standing on the floor and being less than 6’4” tall, all I could do was watch the otherwise very nice screens. A girl all of 5 foot tall stood between me and the stage holding up a stuffed dog as high as she could and made it dance with every song... it was all she could do because I’m not certain she could even see the video screens... great show, and worth the effort to come. When it ended at 11:30pm I made a beeline back to the food tents. I was alone at this point because it was 2:30am eastern time.

Mistake. Both tents looked like apocalyptic wastelands with tired people trudging along table to table, tent to tent to find food. People were tired and in much fewer numbers. Some were collapsed at the few tables around the edges, and scavengers were picking scraps off the feeding stations, still in lines, and many lines had more people than food. The whole thing was surreal. There was actually some couscous left, but since last time they had introduced a few plates of brownies and cookies here and there. When you’re hungry, cookies just don’t cut it, so I dove in for some more couscous and a couple brownies, and after scanning both tents realized it was a cookie or nothing. One table left, a couple plates of cookies, no line.. it was like heaven!

So I’m pretty thirsty by now... and no, there were no drinks in the food tents that I ever identified. Fortunately the beverage booths around the carnival were still well stocked and hardly any lines at this point. I got a half-can of sierra mist (I guess it exists because it fits nicely in a cup with ice) and tried to figure out what to do next. Lots of people left, but apparently the carnival games are free, and unlike the food lines, these lines were moving ok. I can’t leave without trying can I? I decided to try 1 game, chose the game with the biggest prize and stood in the 4-line basketball game for 20 minutes watching hundreds of shots, most of which didn’t hit the rim or even the backboard. One girl won in my line, which I thought was awesome, because it’s actually possible to win. The guy in front of me talked a lot of trash and spent a lot of time plotting his strategy only to brick it like the others. Two shots each, my first shot was a brick too....second went right in! It’s true those rims barely fit the ball, but it is possible! That large stuffed animal forced me to check in a bag on the flight home, but my daughter loved it.

I caught several Steve Miller songs on the way out... it was awesome, I forgot how blues oriented he is, but I knew I had very little sleep ahead of me, so I had to cut out early and back to the buses I went. Lucky #13 bus line was 5 times as long as any other bus line and in retrospect I might have been better off being dropped off somewhere in the middle of San Francisco 3 miles from my hotel at 1am than to stand in that line... but like a good lemming, I stayed, knowing that not many hours later is my next session, and the next night would be spent on a plane rather than in a bed, heading back to the East Coast. But it was worth it.

1 comment:

Bjoern Rost said...

true, so true. I saw the lines aswell and decided to stick with liquid food (almost no lines for beer). So my troubles with the appreciation event were more of a waste management nature.
There were huge lines of dudes in front of the 'restroom' areas (no lines for girls). These areas consisted of rows and rows of portable toilets (ExaFlush?). Nobody could actually see which ones were occupied and which were not (I simply tried) and I have to assume that a lot of them were actually vacant most of the time despite the long lines because lemmings were not checking for vacant spots but rather waiting for someone to exit.
Second problem was the very dim lighting. Once you were inside these ExaFlush devices, you couldn't see anything.