OMMA Global San Francisco Dieharder Cocktail Party, The View, Marriott Marquis
March 18, 2010
Have you ever been truly terrified? Not anxious before getting on stage, not like that. More like the fear that comes with driving through the Serengeti on a Segway covered with beef carpaccio, that kind of fear. I realized, around 1 a.m.-ish Utah time, that I had never quite experienced real fear -- until that time.
On the way TO San Francisco, I found a "Saved By The Bell" marathon to occupy my brain during my JetBlue flight. On the way back, after I and six other MediaPosters (including Ken Fadner, the Big Boss) boarded our red eye, I found Lady GaGa's "Telephone" playing over and over on VH-1 and MTV. So imagine that as the soundtrack to your demise. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. First, let's talk about the end of conference cocktail party!
The party was held in "the Death Star," technically named "The View," but very intergalactic-looking with its curved window arches, no doubt supporting the structure and saving our lives. The sun was already creeping toward slumber, warming the entire city of San Francisco - washing the surrounding building in a pastel palette. I stood at the window with other OMMA Global attendees, appreciating the moment. Yet another night to add to my "seriously, this is where I am right now?" list of "DO NOT TAKE THESE THINGS FOR GRANTED."
On a couch facing the building and the bay, I found SocialVibe's Joe Marchese entertaining a handful of people. The bar was already full of blue OMMA bags and dangling name badges, all attached to some exhausted faces. While it may be exhausting to sit through two full days of panels and keynotes, you have to hand it to the Expo Hall booth bunnies for not chopping off their feet by the end of Day Two. A hearty bunch they were, sticking around for the end-of-day cocktail party.
Who were all of these diehard souls? People like Aperture's Norm Page, Hyde Interactive's Joe Hyde, HUGE's effervescent Tom Siebert (who was exchanging cards like a madman!), Veruta, Inc's Paxton Song, American Pop's Jonathan Hall, Bizo, Inc.'s John Whitmore, TellApart's Josh McFarland (who caught a lovely lady's eye, but I won't out her), and NowPublic's Michael Trippett, whose camera was bigger than mine.
Before the sky dipped itself in deep blue and the Bay Bridge twinkled with thousands of tiny lights, I ran into AKQA's John Deschner, whose kicks were the same color scheme as the GTi demo he had just shown on the General Session stage. He was keeping it in the family, hanging out with AKQA CEO Tom Bedecarre. Risa Pearl and 9 Volt Graphic Design's Roland Hill were keeping a corner cozy with MediaPost's Rob McEvily, while Twistage's Corey Kronengold made me jealous with his extra night's stay in our beautiful host city. Carri Bugbee, CEO of Big Deal PR, was making the rounds while Alec Andronikov, CEO of MoVoxx, helped me set up some shots.
It was a beautiful end to two intense days and I couldn't wait to scurry off, check out, and get a big fat burger before heading to SFO. Once I was on the plane, I settled into my seat. As we rose into the sky, I snapped away at San Francisco sparkling below me. I couldn't wait to fall asleep. And then... BWOMP! It felt like we'd hit a speed bump. The plane lurched and shook. "Weird," I thought, as I peered out into the cloudless sky -- a black blanket poked through with silver stars. I wasn't nervous; I've felt turbulence before and I knew this would pass. It didn't.
For what felt like hours (but may have only been 15 minutes) the plane rattled, dipped, dived, and shimmied. People barfed, wailed, cried, and gasped. The beverage cart sounded like it was going to jump out the window. The woman next to me sucked in her breath with each new hitch and I could tell she was fraying.
I lied, "This happens all the time -- it sounds scarier than it is," to help calm her. This was also part of my "don't lose your mind" strategy -- because truly, the only way it would have been scarier was if a monkey were gnawing at my face. I was terrified. I don't think I breathed the whole time. Not once did the pilot get on the horn to assure us everything was great and we'd be through it in a bit. You know the whole "we're heading to higher elevation to see if we can't get around this" shtick. This scared me more, because that told me our guy was just working on keeping the bird in the sky, not working the customer service angle. "It sounds a lot scarier than it is, I promise," I continued to lie to my seatmate.
When it finally passed, nervous chuckles skipped around the cabin. Adrenaline is a funny thing, too -- my hands were a shaky mess and I felt wacky elation. We landed and waited while one passenger had to be escorted due to a medical emergency before deplaning. When I reconvened at the baggage claim with my MediaPost pals, we traded war stories, with one of us who shall remain nameless (not me!) losing his chicken wings. Ken Fadner approached, admitting he was as worried as the rest of us, proclaiming, "We almost lost the company!"
We chuckled darkly, grabbed our bags, and separated off into the New York morning.
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