The longest night of my life, I spent in Omaha, Nebraska.
That may not be exactly the teaser you expected from the Section Chair in the run-up to our annual Communications Section Workshop – this year to be held in Omaha on October 3-5. But hear me out.
It was 1990, and my wife and I were driving cross-country, from Chicago to San Francisco, where I was about to start law school. We gave ourselves a few days for what we thought would be a leisurely trek. As part of that laid-back ethos, I decided that we wouldn’t need motel reservations. Our plan was to stop somewhere near Omaha, then again near Salt Lake City, before finally rolling into the Bay area, refreshed and ready to law.
That trip – and law school later – taught me lessons about the foolhardiness of poor planning. Turns out traveling by the seat of your pants is cool and all, but it also means you may sleep in your car’s seat. Which is what we did. Somewhere, my elementary-school Scout leader shook his head in disappointment.
Cruising into Omaha on a warm August night, I was confident of our chances. Lining the freeway were national motel chains – plus a few we’d never heard of. It looked like a lodging-palooza. We thought our immediate future would be a check-in at a roadside lodge, followed by an unhealthy and delicious meal at a hometown diner. In other words, a pleasure.
But the first motel we stopped at – and then the third, fourth and fifth – dashed our hopes. “No vacancy” we were told over and over. Finally, a front-desk clerk decided it wasn’t enough simply to disappoint me – he thought a lecture was in order.
“How did you ever think you could get a hotel room without a reservation in Omaha in the summer?”
How, indeed? The earnest query, posed by an acne-faced adolescent in a clip-on tie, was a very good one – almost chamber of commerce-worthy. And it’s floated into my mind at least once a month ever since that night. The planners, I learned, are the cool kids.
I cannot explain Omaha’s scarcity of motel rooms in the summer of 1990. But I do recall the long night after we acknowledged defeat. I had always thought the seats of our 1986 VW Golf were comfortable, but a night of struggle trying to achieve REM in a semi-reclined state taught us otherwise. And because of area restaurants’ surprisingly short hours, our dinner – Chex Mix – was consumed there too.
Why do I tell you this? Because out of that experience, a planner was born. And I’m hoping that benefits all those who will attend the Communications Workshop.
NABECOMM18 will be in the same great city Kathy and I traversed, but our Section experience will be so much better. Thanks to the hard work of my Workshop Co-Chair Sam Clinch, of the Nebraska Bar, every detail has been considered. Our hotel – the Hilton Omaha – is a venue so terrific, I never would have imagined staying in it back in the day. The educational programming – devised by a committee led by Brandon Vogel – is guaranteed to inform and delight you. And our colleagues on the vendor and sponsor side will be there in force, due to the tireless commitment of Sponsorship Chair Carissa Long.
I am very excited to truly enjoy the River City (colleagues have asked me to stop calling it “The Big O” – whatever).
I hope to see you there.