Before becoming a full-time writer, I worked in a random array of industries. I spent my fair share of time in the online education, high rise management, real estate, health insurance, and product liability industries. But despite all those years in the cubicle, I never got the opportunity to attend an industry conference.
Perhaps I didn’t care enough about the industry to bring it up to my boss. Perhaps my boss was too cheap to send me on an unchaperoned trip to Vegas. For whatever reason, I’ve never schlepped my bags to a strange city to pretend listen to cheesy seminars while wondering when the next happy hour event begins.
My boyfriend works in the Internet retailer/office supply industry and ships off to at least a conference or two every year. Since I can work from “wherever,” I decided to tag along to San Antonio for a little change of pace. And for an extended post-conference adventure to Austin and Padre Island.
The conference is being held at the J.W. Marriott Resort & Spa, which is a considerable step up from my usual accommodations inside a tent with a broken pole. After three days of mooching bliss, I’ve determined that being playing the role of conference tag-along is a pretty sweet gig.
I’ve spent most of my days cranking out articles on my laptop next to the pool with a frozen mojito in hand, taking occasional breaks to float down the “lazy river” or zip down the water slide. Let the truth be told, I’m incredibly productive in these circumstances! I even managed to get me a name badge, which allows me sneak into some events for free food and drinks. Score!
Last night was one of these events and it literally was held in the street in front of The Alamo. The conference organizers set up huge tents just steps away from the historic building, which was flanked by food trucks and booze stations. I’m not one for networking events or small talk, especially when its not even my industry, but I hung around long enough for some food truck sliders and cheap beer.
The Marriott resort is about 45 minutes away from downtown San Antonio, so I was glad to step away from the life of secluded luxury and actually get into the city for a bit. I visited San Antonio a couple years ago with my best girlfriend, and it’s exactly as touristy as I remember it. Say what you will, but the tried-and-true Riverwalk does make for a beautiful and relaxing evening stroll.
As I sit in my plush provided bathrobe and curse the rain that keeps me from the pool today, I ponder the mentality of the modern conference-goer. For most people, this seems like a great way to ditch office responsibilities, escape the family, and feast on free booze for a few days. It’s an excuse for non-travelers to take a vacation. It’s one of the rare perks of 9-5 office work. But I can attest to the fact that all anyone here talks about it work…so I guess it all has a certain level of productivity as well. Surely, plenty of booze-fueled business deals are on the table and covered in some kind of duck fat french fry grease (Say She Ate has great ones, by the way).
Perhaps if they aren’t ridiculously expensive or hopelessly lame, I’ll look into attending a writers conference in the near future. Writers must be more interesting to have small talk with than Internet salesmen, right?