And now, our city can take a deep, restorative breath of relief. Storefronts are intact, no cars were overturned. No bombs were detonated and no one was sprayed with tear gas. Instead,traffic was the biggest issue. Coordinating some 300 motor coaches in and out of Downtown Tampa was our most notable gaffe.
Despite rumors and stories from Saint Paul in 2008, Tampa city and citizen both escaped any major skirmish during the past week’s 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC), even with numerous unplanned, impromptu protests, and a laundry list of celebrity conservatives in attendance. The buildup to the political gathering of the American Right was nothing short of a Hollywood doomsday film, monopolized by the Secret Service, security clearances, barricades and riot fencing, and a series of 24-hour surveillance helicopters over the urban area.
I volunteered myself to help a friend and local developer-turned-event planner prepare for a handful of parties and dinners during the RNC, mostly for the Nebraska GOP delegation. The experience, albeit mostly in unofficial capacity, was surreal…my first taste of logistics planning, coordinating staff, adapting to rapidly changing needs, and managing expectations on behalf of Governors, chiefs of staff, CEOs, and my own boss. The 180 degree change from a 9 to 5 desk job was thrilling.
From Sunday to Wednesday, nine staff members and myself participated in the Welcome Party, a luncheon hosted at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, a harbor cruise on the Yacht Starship, and an afternoon at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg. Several of our scheduled events were canceled on Monday and throughout the week thanks to Hurricane Isaac, including a cocktail party to be thrown by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Even I was disappointed to miss that one! Such is par for the course, though, in Florida, in late August. Unexpectedly, I managed to snag a ticket to see Jon Stewart and the Daily Show’s live taping on Thursday (thanks to Paul!), so that was pure icing (and manages to keep my faith in the LEFT intact).
I took the week off from my normal job to focus on the RNC, and would do it again. Although I’m not and will probably never be a Republican, and wish we’d been seeing the DNC’s fabulous list of speakers, the experience was wonderful. Working around budgets, security, tight schedules, and creative slants made the pressure and urgency justified and exciting. Working face to face with people (taking and giving direction), reading their spoken and unspoken language, and understanding their desired end product forced me to take personal responsibility on behalf of my boss, or the client, which I have difficulty with elsewhere in life if the task is rote and unimportant.
I now know, with certainty, that I belong in a higher-paced, creative, constantly-moving work environment. In some cases, having work follow you home or interrupt your dinner is a negative. In others, it drives you crazy, but it forces your mind to constantly click and spring with ideas, thoughts, and you start to care about your product, about your clients, and about your business. This is how I want to feel about work. Not that it drags me down, but that it engages me and I meet it with equal fervor. Although I’m not sure what it is yet, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I made an album of snaps from the week working the RNC on Flickr – hope you enjoy!