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Have you hugged your Ross today?

August 12, 2005

One of the things that I love about being a bag lady at my company is the fact that we have our sales meeting in Palm Springs each November. I don’t mind that it’s in November, that’s a very nice time to escape to sun. I don’t mind that it extends through the weekend. Even the first year, it didn’t bother me, but now that I’m single, why should I care at all? It’s not like we spend the entire weekend cooped up in an overly cold board room. Only half of it. The whole deal is actually pretty sweet.

Our company flies us in Thursday morning to kick the weekend off. In the past, I arrived around 11, this year, 12:30, which provides me with approximately 6 hours of shopping and pool time before the “opening ceremony” dinner at 7 pm. Some of the east coast folks don’t arrive until later in the afternoon, which is why I’m glad I live on the west coast.

They put us up at the Wyndham hotel and make sure that we have everything we could possibly need. Then they give us goodie bags filled with stuff. We get shirts, tape measures, thermoses, backpacks, hats, jackets, you name it, it’s probably in there. Then we have our first cocktail hour, where we drink from the open bar and catch up with each other. I was so impressed last year when I walked up and the bartender, Tino, pointed at me, smiled, and said, “rum and coke.” He remembered. How sweet. However, after all the cuba libres he’d served me the year prior, I had fully planned on staying away from those. More on that in a minute.

We mingle a bit and sit down to our first dinner. Last year, we had Rick Searfoss, an astronaut, as our keynote speaker. That was pretty cool. The first year, we just had dinner by the pool, and I got a free drunken philosophy lesson from our resident Costanza while my boss looked on laughing at my misery. It was really pretty bad. After the first night’s dinner, we are set free to enjoy what the beautiful town of Palm Springs offers for its nightlife. There are clubs, a casino, and karaoke that people generally disperse to. I remember the first year, we hit the casino and after an hour, we came back to our meeting spot to find that one of the girls had spent half an hour trying to get money out of the ATM with her hotel key.

Friday morning, we wake up with hangovers and trek down to the meeting room to eat breakfast and freeze our butts off while we have our first round of meetings. Mostly we cover how we did last year, new programs, new items, and top customers, top projects, etc. You know, typical sales meeting type stuff. We break for lunch, thaw out, and reconvene to further learn about new stuff or have sales training from this consultant guy that somehow shows up to all of our sales meetings and no one knows why he still comes. The guy is kind of an arrogant prick if you ask me. I should start a pool to see who thinks he’ll be in attendance again this year.

Having now worked in the banquet side of things, I’m sure that I can appreciate what the Wyndham staff does for us at each meal. they really are great. Personally, I don’t think the food is that bad, but not everyone agrees. They generally put on a nice spread for all three of the dinners they serve us while we’re there. The second night’s dinner is our Century Club dinner, where they recognize the winners of the Century Club award trip. This is the night the first year that Tino overserved me rum & cokes and yet I still went out and continued to drink. The last thing I remember that night is getting a tour of Palm Springs in a cab, trying to see if I recognized what hotel I was staying at because I couldn’t remember the name of it. Last year, we stayed in and played pool in the lobby and I became even better friends with the ladies’ restroom than I had the year before.

Saturday is our fun day. We have about two hours of meetings in the morning and then we are set free to do whatever we want. For me, this means a massage at the hotel and then shopping. Or shopping and then a massage. Either way, by 6 pm, I’m a happy girl. That night is our awards banquet, which is a ton of fun. Basically, we eat and drink and enjoy our entertainers. The first year I went, it was Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra look alikes that put on a show for us. Marilyn even sang happy birthday to our company president. Last year, it was a comedian-magician that was beyond fun. Even when he stabbed me in my ace of hearts. Our group really had a good time with him as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have on the agenda for us this year. It’s a great time, and sure, we all get a little crazy, but at least none of us have to drive home. Some people go out, yet again, but after going out two nights in a row, it gets a little rough. Both years, I have stayed in on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, everyone is a mess. Ironically, this is when we have our bag training. Funny, huh? We’re all dragging our feet and half asleep, moving from session to session like zombies and drinking water like it’s going to evaporate in half a minute. That lasts most of the day and some of the folks take off that night. For the rest of us that stick around one more night, we venture away from days of banquet food and hit one of the restaurants in Palm Springs. It’s a good time and we finish off with dessert at Coldstone. We all mosey back to the hotel, get a quick night’s sleep and head home Monday morning.

Our sales meetings are always fun and crazy and we usually get a few good inside jokes out of it that we carry into the next year. Plus, I get to see Umby, the other three of the Fab Four, our glorious marketing gals, and a few of the other fellow sales reps that I have befriended through the years.

I actually feel kind of guilty at the end of the year when all our operations people get a lousy polo shirt to thank them for their efforts, but it doesn’t stop me from having a good time while I’m there. It’s something to look forward to throughout the year and I always come home with stories.

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