I attended the first-ever Virtual Speak Up Conference July 8–10, 2020. One of my responsibilities was to facilitate virtual prayer sessions and a writer’s track session. With Plan A in place, I felt ready.
Plan A: Check Everything Twice
Tuesday evening before the first day of the conference, I checked the cable connection and all electronics. Everything worked well. I would attend sessions in the morning and early afternoon. As a prayer team member, I would facilitate a virtual prayer session at 5:15 pm. As an author, I would facilitate the Writers Track 1st Page Peer Critique at 7:30 pm The first morning of the conference, I continued in Plan A mode.
I awakened early to check everything one more time. My equipment functioned without a problem. However, at 8:30 am, the cable company construction crew across the street knocked out internet service in the neighborhood. My lights and appliances continued to work. Therefore, I expected my generator to restore my internet connection.
I called the company that installed the generator to find out if they could send a service technician to my home as soon as possible. The switchboard operator said, “The generator couldn’t restore the internet connection which the construction crew had knocked out.”
So much for Plan A.
Plan B: Search for A Local Option
I moved into Plan B. After thirty minutes of phone calls, I realized because of the pandemic, no coffee shop, restaurant, or public library in my county would allow me to go inside. They all said, “You can sit outside and use your mobile phone to connect to our internet, but you can’t come inside.”
“I have a mask and gloves,” I pleaded. “Remember the temperature is 95° with a humidity that makes it feel like 108°. If I sit in the parking lot with my car air conditioner on all day, the car will overheat.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. That’s the policy.” Visions of an overheated car chained to a tow truck and my limp body connected to oxygen in an ambulance scared me.
Plan B didn’t work either.
Plan C: Search in Another City
Beads of perspiration formed on my forehead. My heart raced. I shot an arrow prayer to heaven. The answer came: call a colleague in a city twenty-five minutes away. “Yes, come on. We’ll figure out what to do with you when you get here.”
One hour to shower, get dressed, pack already prepared meals, snacks, laptop, extension cord, and paperwork. My colleague allowed me to use an empty office. Upon my arrival, I closed the office door, removed my mask, unpacked, hooked up the laptop, and relaxed for the remainder of the first session.
At the breaks, I put my mask back on, literally ran to the next wing of the office building to use the restroom, and then ran back to the office. My cooler contained lunch and snacks, which I ate with gratitude.
The office lost power at 2:45 pm. The manager assured me that happened once daily. All I had to do was shut down the laptop and start it up again. Meanwhile, my neighbor assured me on the phone that our neighborhood had regained internet service. I packed again, drove home to beat the commuter traffic and thunderstorm in the forecast, unpacked the essentials, and hooked up for the rest of the conference. At least my dinner in the cooler saved me preparation time.
Now, I can laugh about my actual experience the first day of a virtual conference but not then.
To wrap up, when you switch from live to virtual, have more than one plan:
- Plan A: Check everything twice.
- Plan B: Search for a local option.
- Plan C: Search in another city.
What will you do this week to work on Plan B or Plan C?
Copyright © by Yvonne Ortega July 2020