By Jan Fischer Bachman
Pop star Taylor Swift packed out the 65,000-seat Paycor Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 30 and July 1. Thousands of sequin-bedecked enthusiasts returned singing to their hotels. Meanwhile Church of the Brethren staff, volunteers, and committee members arriving at the Hilton Netherland Plaza July 2 were not “Enchanted” nor did they have “The Best Day” when they dragged themselves up the art deco stairs and found that there was no room at the inn.
Being sent two blocks away to a different hotel does not sound too difficult, but when you’re driving to conference, you fill up your suitcase, and then you decide that your muddy boots could probably go into the car in a grocery bag, but since the bag was made to carry approximately three pickle chips, the handle stretches way out and breaks, and then you think of a bunch of other things that could be useful, and of course, snacks are essential, and so pretty soon you are walking the streets of Cincinnati with one suitcase with a wonky wheel and five plastic bags with one handle (total), and the temperature feels like approximately 1000 degrees, and so you are hoping that if you do melt completely into a puddle, someone will carefully scoop you up and take you to a cooler place to reform into a human.
Other conference attendees were more fortunate and arrived at 10 p.m. to be told that they did have rooms… they just weren’t ready yet. Although it was not entirely clear what “ready” meant since when they finally got to their rooms, there were no bath towels.
By Monday, July 3, the Swifties had shouted “Bye, Bye, Baby,” so new arrivals found… an immensely long line snaking through the hotel lobby and the news that their rooms were not ready. Given that July 3 was, according to scientists from the University of Maine and the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the hottest day ever recorded by humans, it was not an ideal time to explore the wonders of Cincinnati while on hold. However, it all worked out and after waiting, in some cases, since 2 p.m., almost everyone had a place to sleep by midnight.
After two days when the hotel was clearly not “Ready for It,” Tuesday July 4 finally brought…a carefully lettered sign that no one could check in before 8 p.m. One pair of volunteers trying to register heard that their names could not be found. Eventually their reservation was located and keys provided—only for them to open the door with great relief to discover that their supposed room was full of someone else’s things. Time to “Begin Again”!
At the end of the day(s), as it says in 2 Corinthians, “this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory”—or perhaps better put by Taylor Swift (and Jesus): “Shake It Off!”
Phrases in quotations are Taylor Swift song titles. This article may cause confusion, indigestion, or breathing difficulties. While it is not likely to cause loss of sleep or mood swings, the events described definitely resulted in those conditions for people attending Annual Conference. Speak to a doctor or a pharmacist if any of these side effects persist past July 8.