Professional Tides

July 8, 2013 - 9:10pm -- swingbug

It must be a strange thing working in a business right next to large conference center.

I'm in San Diego this week, for the ESRI User Conference. Translation: a bunch of map geeks have descended upon downtown San Diego, overrunning the ten blocks or so immediately surrounding the conference center, wearing our badges, matching ESRI saddle bags, and all wearing polo shirts and buttons that say things like "We are GIS."

It's a decent sized conference. There are about 15,000 of us. Every business in the area--restaurants, bars, souvenir shops--has a poster in the window: "The San Diego Convention Area welcomes ESRI UC!" None of them seem to really know who we are or what we do (though a few have asked me) but they can't miss the group personality. Next week is ComicCon and you know there's a group personality there. (Sigh. If only I could stay....) Last week it was a heart research convention, and later in the month a bridal bizarre.

How strange it must be to wait tables in the restaurants bordering the convention center and watch the tides of specific interest groups flow in and retreat again to be replaced by another school of thought in the next wave.

This talking-to-lots-of-people thing is outside my area of expertise, though I'm trying to put my best foot forward. I always feel a little socially awkward in large groups of people. Also, I showed up this morning to find a sea of folks in "business casual" attire and there I was in my best Super Girl t-shirt. Again with the awkward.

The Super shirt seems to have endeared me to the convention center staff somewhat though. It takes a mustering of courage to start a conversation with professional looking strangers standing around a map gallery, but when someone offers you a skewered appetizer, or to take your empty plate, you say thank you which can start a conversation. Several of the folks working the opening party for the convention center tonight told me they liked my shirt.

And then each of them leaned towards me and said, "Aren't you supposed to be here next week?"

Related Topics: