I guess! Does it?! Who knows. My wife seems to think so and insists we have to spend some time there some day. She loves it so maybe there’s something to it. I’ve only really passed through there on the way to somewhere else. Even though I just spent the past 4 days there I never actually left the hotel where we stayed. Never even stepped foot outside. Strange? Perhaps. But I was working. Hard.
Opryland Resort. A sprawling, magnificent hotel complex extravaganza. In all seriousness it’s beauty surpasses about anything in Vegas. So does it’s size, coming in at 28th on the list of the world’s largest hotels (thank you Wikipedia). Who knew? The lush, tropical grounds in the atrium-style hotel are simply incredible, and impeccably maintained. It’s like bringing the beauty of Missouri Botanical Gardens completely indoors while leaving the disgusting heat and bugs where they belong. I simply never would have guessed something so incredible and grandiose would be situated anywhere other than, again, Las Vegas. Just take a look at these incredible shots I took… directly from their website because I didn’t have time to take my own and even if I had they wouldn’t have turned out this good.
But alas, this trip was not about vacationing. No time for sight-seeing. This was work, and loads of it.
This year, like the previous few years, Opryland played host to one of our client’s annual Managers Conference. Over 5,000 people descend on the property for a few days of meetings and banquets, and of course, a little shopping… which is where our company comes in. We have been fortunate enough to produce apparel for this event, which is only the beginning of the challenge. Shipping, unloading, set-up, organizing and reorganizing, tear down, reloading… that’s where the real fun begins.
Friday, 3:30 pm arrival. Valet, enter resort, leave behind outside world until Monday. We check in, drop our bags off at our rooms and meet at Ballroom A. At 6pm, after some delay in getting started, our 7-person team begins the arduous task of unpacking and sorting 24 skids (pallets) of merchandise, each skid packed over 7 feet high. Each skid threatening to topple, leaning dangerously from the top like some ridiculous Scooby Doo sandwich. But we finally finish, virtually intact, by 11:15 pm. Day 1 complete.
Day 2, 8 am. Consume bacon, egg and cheese sandwich in route to ballroom. Traffic throughout the day ebbs and flows. We break for an early lunch then get right back to it until 9 pm. That’s 13 hours son. 13 hours of near constant organizing and reorganizing apparel that’s been ransacked and ransacked again.
Sunday, 7 am. Steady traffic again, ALL… DAY…. LONG. Again, it ebbs and flows with the beginning and ending of different conferences. So many people hustling, ducking and dodging, I try to assist when I can.
** Small aside… the wife approaches as I’m sorting shirts on the XL sizes table. We chat briefly and then…
Me: “Was that you?”
Wife: “Ugh, no! You?”
Me: “Dang. No. We gotta move.”
There we were. The latest in a steady stream of poot-n-scoot victims. I wondered whether the perpetrator stood at a safe distance to admire his handiwork. I’d like to say this was an isolated incident. I’d like to say that. **
This time we take turns breaking for lunch and finally end our day at 7 pm. That’s 12 hours of relentless size sorting and fielding questions and cardboard box throwing and dodging. It’s like some 3-day Walmart Black Friday from hell.
Day 4, 7 am, final day. Traffic slows to a crawl. Mostly size exchanges. Sorting and resorting has all but ceased… not out of necessity, rather exhaustion. Find it your damn self. (I kid, kind of.) Fortunately for the wife and I we have to duck out early and head back to St. Louis for an all-too-perfectly timed birthday. Thank you boys for being born on the last day of conference so mommy and daddy can skip boxing and repacking what’s left of the plundered merch.
So there it is. Almost.
Here’s the real reason I volunteered for this unpaid work soiree:
Can’t get this stuff west of Tennessee so if I have an opportunity to pick some up, I’m on it. Yuengling’s the oldest brewery in the country. Who knew? I’m a huge Guinness fan, loyal as can be, even been to St. James Gate in Dublin. But Yuengling’s Black and Tan does present a strong case. I would never say it’s better than Guinness for fear of hurting Guinness’s feelings, but again, so very good. I had to make 3 or 4 stops to find what I wanted, but it’s always well worth the effort.
So yes, I guess Nashville DOES rock. So I had to slave away for free for 30+ hours. I’m headed home satisfied.
Look at ’em. All safe and secure, nice and cold, snuggled into their new home. Rest well my babies. Stay cool.
If you’re ever over and I like you I might offer you one.
Then again I might not.
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