This morning we’re precisely two weeks away from the official opening of the first in-person World Conference of the Professional Speechwriters Association in three years, which means my colleagues Benjamine, Mike and I are on what we call “The Road to Millinocket,” because this feels like what this picture looks like—a wee truck hauling an impossible, even inadvisable amount of lumber to Millinocket, Maine.
Speechwriters know what it takes to put on events, and they know how lean is our crew. So the vast majority of our customers are uncommonly sympathetic—and when they make a request during this time, actually apologetic.
Others, however, are not. They make the sorts of casual requests that you might make of a teacher in summertime or a professional baseball player in January. But not of your tax accountant neighbor, on April 14, or Mr. or Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve.
I often wonder if these people ever extrapolate the amount of time and attention they require to all the hundreds of other folks we are working with, and think: “Wow, how could just three people manage a customer base this demanding?!”
And then answer their own question: “Oh, maybe 99.9% of the customer base isn’t this demanding!”
The Road to Millinocket isn’t only hard and long, it’s dangerous. And one of the dangers is that one of our beloved customers will test my Millinocket-miniaturized patience, and I might wind up telling him or her what I once told a hipster pedestrian who gave me just a little too much histrionic guff.
(This was a reenactment—wholly accurate until the laughing at the end. There was, and there will be, no laughing at the end.)
Editor’s Note: The World Conference is almost sold out, and the seeming truculence of its emcee (who isn’t really in charge of anything, anyway) will be inversely proportional to the friendliness of the gathering. The deadline for registering in-person is Tuesday, October 4 and the deadline for registering online is Friday, Oct. 7. Do it.