Sunday, February 8, 2009

Business Meeting in LA

Hello Grumpy fans!

Alright, I'm sure you're wondering where I was the last few days (or maybe you weren't) .

I was in LA, folks. A company I'm doing consulting work for sent me there for a meeting. This was one of those deals where they arrange every detail of my existence for 36 hours.

So I flew there on Friday night. I asked for an aisle seat, and got one. The window and center seat were occupied by 2 gay men who'd just gotten married and were on their way to Disneyland for their honeymoon. They were both wearing mouse-ear hats and spent the flight singing along with Disney songs on an iPod.

When I got off the plane there wass a teenybopper with a sign waiting for me. She had a name tag, and under that a green button that says "At our company, we're committed to the environment." She took me to the curb, where there were 2 other docs going to the same meeting, with their green-buttoned teenyboppers.

A big limo puled up, and all 3 of us started to get in it. Our teenyboppers stopped me and one other doc, and said "that car is for Dr. X only". So he drove off.

I turned to my teenybopper and had this exchange:

Dr. Grumpy: "Aren't we all going to the same place?"

Ms. Teenybopper: "Yes, sir!"

Dr. Grumpy: "Wouldn't one limo be big enough to hold all of us?"

Ms. Teenybopper: "Yes, sir, but each of you get your own limo."

Dr. Grumpy: (looking at the button again) "Just how strong is your company's environmental commitment, anyway?".

Ms. Teenybopper: "Very strong, Sir! Why?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Never mind."

It's been years since I've been in downtown LA. Hookers, bail bond stores, porn shops, and that's while you're still inside the airport terminal.

The hotel was a monstrosity. Apparently used in several movies, so there are plaques all over that say things like "On this spot Sylvester Stallone fought Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Rocky vs. Terminator'." I was wondering if it would have a plaque over my bed that said "This bed was used in the filming of 'Linda Loves in LA'.

The hotel gym (which I didn't even consider using) is this glass-walled thing that's easily seen from any point of the lobby several floors below, with balconies hanging outside it with exercise equipment. So anyone eating at the buffet can look up and watch someone else trying to get buff, while someone working out can look down and see someone else trying to get fat.

The meeting was the usual stuff with Powerpoint slides, a darkened conference room, and a sleeping audience. The other docs (about 150) were all in suits and ties, but (since the advance materials didn't mention a dress code) I'd only packed shorts, a T-shirt, and old sneakers. Most of the other attendees thought I was a vagrant. So at every meeting, meal, snack, discussion group, whatever, I was constantly being stopped by conference organizers who asked to see my name tag. I think I was the only person who got asked this.

So if you were at a meeting in LA this weekend, and were wondering why there was an unshaven homeless person in your sessions, that was me. You got a look at Dr. Grumpy. Lucky you.

When they aren't talking at these meetings they're feeding you. At one point, during a session on data as to whether the drug being discussed caused weight gain, a waiter came in and began serving cookies.

My pet gripe for the meeting is, oddly enough, the same one I had in high school, college, medical school, and residency: "Why don't you other people in the audience SHUT UP!" These sessions always run over because there's always some doofus (or plural doofi) who keep asking questions, arguing about the data, nitpicking points, etc. (Yes, you, in the white shirt, you know who you are). For heaven's sake, Dr. Doofus. You're getting paid to sit there and shut up. So why don't you just join the rest of us in doing so?

I was very happy to get home. Craig greeted me with a Valentine showing a volcano erupting with hearts he had made himself. I'm glad he explained it. I thought the large brown thing on the card was a potato, or worse.

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