Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This is why I hate Vegas - My WLSFA 2013 Meet 'n Greet Story - Day One

The best meal I had all day
I was in Vegas for a convention put on by the WLSFA, an organization that raises money so that people who can’t afford it can have Weight Loss Surgery (and sometimes Plastic Surgery after massive weight loss). This was the fourth of their annual Meet and Greets. I had gone to their second (What? There was nothing about it on the blog. Um, yeah, I know. More on that later.)

Mr. Mac had absolutely no interest in the convention but he wanted to go to Vegas (why?) so he was with me. We left the kids home. First time we left Mini-Mac without parental supervision for an entire weekend, too. It was less stressful than I expected.

Because he lost his job and because I had been told my contract on my job was not being extended past the end of this month, we seriously considered not going. But the plane fare and convention tickets were paid for and non-refundable. In those situations, it is generally better financially to go than to throw so much money away. Though of course the cash flow can be tight during the actual event.

I hadn’t been in Vegas for even an hour when I wanted to punch a kitten. More than once.

It started on the way into The Strip from the airport. The taxi driver took the long way around and ripped us off. One of the things I hate about Vegas is that I feel like people are constantly trying to rip me off. And here I was being ripped off as soon as I had set foot in the place.

Then, once we got to the hotel, these people from Wyndham Hotels kept coming up and “greeting” us and getting in our way in order to sell us timeshares and just generally being royal PITAs when we were trying to find the Registration Desk and the elevators to our hotel room and I came perilously close to punching one of them out. Luckily for her, I was able to get to our room before that happened.

In the meantime, I had been interviewing even before the news about my contract and when I got the news, I put my search into overdrive. I mean I put my resume up on Dice.com. At which point, my email and Google Voice mail started exploding. I even went on a job interview on my way to the airport!

By the time I left for Vegas, I had one firm job offer with an official offer letter and one other job offer kind of dangling in the wind as an almost, but not quite sure thing and definitely not official yet.

As I told my friends at the convention, I felt like Molly Ringwald in an 80s movie being asked to the Prom by two guys with exactly the sort of drama you find in such movies.

So all this was going on and Vegas was being Vegas, with the annoying timeshare people and the cheating taxi drivers and the wind whipping up so hard that night I thought the roof was going to cave in and I couldn't sleep. My first night in Vegas as stressful to say the least.

The next day, I woke up entirely too early given how little sleep I'd had the week before and couldn't go back to bed. I made plans to meet an online friend for outlet mall shopping and Mr. Mac and I went to the cafe in the hotel for breakfast. They were having a cheap breakfast buffet but it was a typical hotel breakfast buffet, not a typical Vegas buffet. Which is just as well since I really can't eat that much at any one time making Vegas buffets not cost-effective for me.

I then registered for the convention and picked up my Goodie Bag. My was it stuffed with Goodies. This convention has its issues but not giving good SWAG is not one of them.

At this point, I had given up on the outlets -- to complicated to get to without a car -- and had decided to go to one of the malls on the strip. I was having trouble meeting up with my friend so I went back to the registration room and said:
Hey, who wants to go shopping with me?!
That's when I kidnapped the Goddess Adriana. Okay, technically she was a VSGer from SoCal and not a goddess, but she looked like a young Linda Carter from Wonder Woman. Only prettier. She was about 2 months out from sleeve surgery, had never been to a WLSFA convention and really didn't know anyone. No problem, I know lots of people, so off we went!

We headed off to the Fashion Show Mall, came back to swoop up Lisa, a charming woman from Texas, who I we finally hooked up with after all, and then end up never leaving Macys. I got the shoes and earrings I needed for my Saturday night dress before we just about passed out from hunger and went to a place called Ras for a very late lunch.

Ras had Hawaiian cuisine but, unlike a lot of Hawaiian food, it was not mediocre. I had some sort of chirashi which is different kinds of sashimi with avocado and cucumber over a bed of rice. I ate most of the seafood and a lot of the avocado and some of the cucumber and I was stuffed.

Then we went to Paris to try to find berets. And pearl earrings for my outfit. And black leggings. I did get the earrings (and later the leggings) but they no longer sell berets in the shops of gay Paree. At least not the Vegas version. It was mildly disappointing at the time.

We all dispersed at this point and went up to our rooms to get dressed. The theme of the opening reception was A Night in Paris, which was fairly open ended in terms of dress. My goal was too look like a young girl about to jump on the back of a Vespa and ride off for a night on the town with her boyfriend. I think I came close in spite of the lack of beret (and not being happy with my make-up). There were quite a few people with berets too so I'm kind of glad, in the end, that I didn't have one.

However, something happened at the reception that really set me off. There was a LONG line for the appetizers. I hate waiting in line like that so I waited for the lines to level off before getting in it. But as soon as I got to the table, the waiters came out and wheeled it away! It seems the food had already run out. There was something about bringing in another one, so I was hopeful but I waited and waited and .... nothing. 

Eventually I rummaged around in my purse and found a protein bar. I also cursed at myself for having taken the beef jerky out of my purse earlier that day thinking that brining beef jerky to a party was rude. They did bring out another table later but it was all raw vegetables and fruit. No cheese or anything with protein in it.

Those of use who had had nothing went up and got something and we were joking about not wanting to take more than three grapes because there were still people behind us who hadn't gotten anything. In the end, we all took just a little and when everyone had gotten something we went back and got more. But raw vegetables and fruit do not really hold you and do not a dinner make.

They are also not particularly WLS friendly. While I was okay with them, many who have WLS can't eat raw vegetables comfortably afterwards, and a significant minority of RnYers dump on fruit. So the food was inappropriate as well as sparse.

This brought up all sorts of memories of attending this conference two years ago and having a less than stellar time. In fact, I made a decision then to just not blog about it at all because I didn't want to discourage people from contributing to the charity which has done a lot of good for people who can't afford WLS. But I was unimpressed with the convention or how the organization was run and did not feel like my participation or energy was welcome by the organizers. So I just decided to shut up and leave them alone.

This year I went with the idea that I would go for the people, give them my $200 conference fee, but not much else, and not have very high expectations for the official convention. Yet, we hadn't even made it through the first event and already my low expectations were not being met.

Not to mention being hungry makes me cranky.

The evening's official entertainment was "meh" with a few exceptions including two excellent singers and a professional comedian. People started leaving in droves. I did my best to stay through the whole thing but near the end I had to pee so I missed the last number of the MC. It wasn't really my style anyway.

This hairdo looks tasty.
Then a bunch of us went out to dinner since most of us hadn't gotten anything to eat at the official event.

While we were standing around waiting to be seated, I ran into Mr. Mac! We rushed excitedly towards each other like two BFFs who hadn't seen each other in 10 years and were meeting at our High School reunion, not an old married couple who had been together just a few hours before. We were catching up on our evenings (And they didn't even feed me!) when another one of those annoying Wyndham people came over and practically shoved herself between us asking "Can I help you?"

I turned to her and I said "NO!"

She actually had the nerve to get huffy and say "It looked like you had a question." I gave her the same look I give my kids when they are trying to get away with crap and she slunk away. If two people could have looked less like two people who had a question, I don't know who they could be.

Mr. Mac joined us for dinner. He had dessert though since he had had dinner at a normal time. Then we went back to the hotel room and everyone else went off somewhere to have fun.

Naturally when we get back to the room I smell like cigarette smoke because Vegas is one big ash tray. Plus it's hard to go to bed when you've just had dinner. But I did eventually drift off and I just hoped that the next day would be less annoying.

I had a feeling it would be since I was really looking forward to one of the talks. (Part Two tomorrow.)

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