Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where's My Dining Room??

Okay, I confess that I am in my element when organizing and planning. Give me a project and I'll have it planned, organized, and executed to within an inch of its life. Years as a Product Manager and then an R&D Project Manager have overdeveloped my compulsive side.

The MTF Founders Feast is next weekend. This is the annual banquet held for the members of our "virtual" motorcycle riding club, The Motorcycle Tourers Forum. At the Feast we recognize our club volunteers, we present awards to our members who have achieved participation milestones in the categories of LD Riding (IBA certified rides), Flower Sniffin', and Off-Road Riding. Oh yeah, we're also fed prodigious amounts of BBQ and we have some really kick-butt door prizes to give away.

Last year, I took over the planning and organizing of the 2009 event sort of mid-stream when the prior event manager (and MTF club president) had an accident and was out of commission. I took the event on for 2010, scouting a suitable location, rounding up a caterer, and recruiting some volunteers to help with various aspects of the event planning. This year an IBA-certifiable ride - Ride Around Texas (RAT) - is being held in conjunction with Founders Feast. Paris TX sits right on the RAT route and is one of the required checkpoints for this ride. So it really made sense to find a suitable location in Paris TX to hold our group for Founders Feast.


I know from organizing countless other projects that they always use more resources, more money, more space and will take on a life of their own if given the opportunity. I've really tried to stay right on top of this one, watching registrations daily for correct information, payment, and any discrepancies. E-mailing registrants when I see those discrepancies. Prodding folks to pay, if they haven't. Reminding folks that t-shirt sales will actually close weeks before registration closes. Handling drop-outs to get refunds lined up and any t-shirts they may have ordered shipped to them. Purchasing and assembling supplies and materials that will simplify on-site check-in for the attendees.

All through this, things started to pile up. First it was the bag containing plastic tablecloths and napkins I'd purchased for the banquet hall. I set this on the floor in a corner of my dining room. Then the wristbands I'd ordered showed up, so I set those next to the bag on the floor. Soon, a box from a fellow MTF member arrived, containing one of the banners and the roll of doorprize tickets. This went in that corner, too. The USPS Priority envelopes I'd ordered arrived next, and these went you-know-where. When the event t-shirts arrived, I immediately opened the boxes and started sorting, bagging, and labeling. This pile to go to the Post Office, that pile to get packed alphabetically in boxes, ready to hand out to participants at the event. To the one banner mailed to me, I added two more and rolled them up and set them on top of the t-shirt boxes. There's a large tote bag containing all of the extra t-shirts, some supplies like masking tape and Sharpies, MTF business cards, and miscellaneous other supplies. Now that small pile in the corner of my dining room had doubled in size.

I borrowed a portable PA system from our drama club and added it to the pile. I'd ordered some small die-cut bags and these arrived. They'll make nice registrant packets, holding the neck lanyards, doorprize tickets, wristbands. Then....the neck lanyards themselves arrived.

That afternoon was spent assembling the registration packets, labeling each one with the participant's name and then placing them upright in alphabetical order into a large but shallow box. When the Off-Road Rider award plaques arrived, I added that box to the now-giant piles in the dining room.

Add to this, the stuff that has already made its way into the trunk of my car: A 12V compressor, a heavy-duty extension cord, and a motorcycle tire mounted on a rim to be used in a tire-plugging demonstration.

This already-large pile must share space in my trunk with some items I currently have listed on e-bay....I know, poor planning on my part. The auctions end next Monday morning which means I need to bring them with me in case they sell and need to be shipped. But, if they don't sell, I can always donate them to the pile of door prizes at the banquet Saturday night.

Pulling off an event like this for 100+ folks is work, to be sure, but if I didn't absolutely love doing this, I wouldn't volunteer!

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