Once upon a time, before motherhood was so abruptly thrust upon me, I was a Working Girl.
Happily toiling in the world of business cards and networking and FICA, I enjoyed doing the 9-to-5 thing. My job was one of the primary ways I defined myself.
And lord knows I had a lot of different ones. Government and politics and retail and sales and printing and proofreading and box office management and writing and design and swimming lessons and the list goes on and on and on…
One of my Facebook pals made a coming the other day about how she “will never eat a sandwich from a plastic package ever ever again.” (Hi Jen!)
Couldn’t agree more.
It was the mid-‘90s. I was the public relations gal Friday for the volunteer and business partners department of our local school system. The lot of us was attending the annual conference of our professional organization in Orlando. Hotel was right off International Drive and a typical Toon Town facility. Very nice. I was a presenter, offering a session on how to be an effective tutor (horn toot time: I wrote and designed the tutor handbook and it was AWESOME, if I do say so myself. HA!)
My session was scheduled for early afternoon – the one right after lunch. And instead of attending the conference luncheon that day, I opted to grab a sandwich from a lunch counter and do some last-minute prep for my presentation. I was an eat-on-the-run girl in those days anyway, as there always seemed to be something that needed “doin’”
As I wolfed down my roast beef on sourdough with mayo, chips and diet coke, I was feeling pretty good about my session. And as time progressed, the room began to fill up with interested participants – every presenter’s dream.
I passed out my handouts, whipped out my overheads (remember – this was the mid ‘90s and I worked for a government agency. We weren’t the most technologically savvy bunch…) adjusted the hem of my Power Dress (I wasn’t a Power Suit kinda girl… too boring.) and hit it.
About 20 minutes later, I began to feel what could (and should) only be described as “wonky.” Brushing it off, I continued, fielding questions and making points. Ten more minutes went by and I looked around the room trying to locate the trashcans. Just in case.
This wasn’t good.
About 15 minutes before we were to actually finish, I wrapped things up gracefully, passing out my business card for follow up and left things with the conference staff person who was my facilitator.
The roast beef had become roast beast and was seeking revenge.
I will use some discretion and spare the details, but let’s just say that a more horrible experience I have not had in this area before or since.
It was bad. Really bad.
Everything you hear about food poisoning is true. And then some.
By the time I made it back to my hotel room, I was a hot mess. And still the Beast continued its revenge.
Once I crawled – and that’s no figurative use of speech, either – into bed, I felt as if I’d done the ring time with Ali in Manila. And word was spreading amongst my colleagues. Phone calls were placed, visits made – all with the same questions.
“How are you?”
Good lord, how do you think I am?
“Can I get you anything?”
Oh heck no. Even water was offensive to the system.
I should mention that I was the youngest of my group of co-workers and at the time, the only single non-parent. I brought out the maternal in everyone.
Apparently word had also spread to the conference and hotel staff, most likely thanks to my uber-efficient boss.
That’s when the fun really started.
A parade of hotel staff began to make its way to my room… doctors, managers, quality control people, human resources. Plus my concerned co-workers.
At one point, that hotel room resembled this…
The hotel folk asked question after question, taking notes. About the place I bought the sandwich. What else I’d eaten. How I felt. There was some cursory concern, but… let’s be honest – they were really trying to get a feel for whether or not I was going to sue their asses. And to make sure that this was an isolated incident.
And all I wanted was to be left alone.
A litigious gal I am not.
My brother, who lived in Orlando, finally came to the rescue, bringing me Gatorade and some peace and quiet.
I was pretty much out of commission the rest of the conference – which, considering the way I was feeling, was not such a bad thing. Some wiseacre took my picture as we were packing up to drive home… let’s just say it’s a good thing I was the PR chick, because that sucker just disappeared. Poof.
I was lucky, when I had that job, to have had opportunity to present at many conferences statewide and nationally – but no experience was quite as memorable as the one where I was felled by the Roast Beast.
Moral of the story: beware of sandwiches in plastic packages. They can be mean, violent sons of bitches.