30 Events in 30 Days, or I Heart The Midwest

This past spring, we were hired by a major banking chain to do 30 events, nationwide, in 30 days.  Some of these events happened simultaneously, others only hours apart.  The result was the entire team scrambling around the country, equipment zipping here and there, and me in my hotel room constantly eyeing travel plans and schedules to make sure everything was in place.  And, it worked!

But not without, um, a few hic-cups: mainly associated with a great chunk of these events being in the Midwest, and the dates being March 15 – April 15.  Translation: just beg to be snowed in, iced in, winter-stormed in, and otherwise incapacitated by Mother Nature.
So, who did I send to do the events in Orlando? Phoenix? California?  You know, warm places?  Here’s a hint:  not me.  I got Fargo, ND, Sioux Falls, SD, Milwaukee, WI — tropical locales with palm trees and tiki torches.  Poor Matthew drew Boise, ID (which was beautiful but hard to get to), and later had to go back to Sioux Falls, SD, to do a make up event….
Let me back up and introduce you to JD.
JD is my Texas manager, and I’ve been quiet about him.  But he is a major part of my team, and I’ll be forever in his debt as a result of his efforts on this contract.  Here’s what happened.
I met JD during President Obama’s first inauguration, in Washington, DC.  Well, we actually never met. He had lined up a major event at the Gaylord Hotel, just outside of the Capitol, and had enlisted my help to cover multiple green screens.  We emailed, talked, emailed some more — but in the end the client wouldn’t (couldn’t) pay the deposit we firmly required.  (A side note:  Inaugural events, while high profile, are notorious for NOT paying.  In fact, ANYTHING associated with a campaign suffers from this curse.  Just ask those providers to Hilary Clinton’s campaign during her unsuccessful run against PBO.  They got stuck holding unpaid invoices for YEARS after the campaign folded.  And Hil — note the familiarity, we are on a first name basis (no we’re not) — is no exception.  Republicans, democrats, independents, all suffer from the same issue — so don’t smirk if you voted for McCain.  He owed big, too.)
Although the Inauguration event never happened, JD and I became friends.  We shot a few events together in Washington, and then he moved to Dallas.  I’m sure he thought he was rid of me…
HA on YOU, JD!  I tracked your ass down in Dallas, and later asked him to manage my Texas operations.  So, now you’re stuck with me.  
Anyway, I had a problem.  Suddenly, all those Florida events for the 30 events in 30 days contract — I didn’t have a photographer.   I didn’t know what to do.  I called JD, and he said he’d cover all those events.  So, that’s how HE got to do Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, while I was suffering with Fargo, Minneapolis, and New Jersey.  Sigh.  But he nailed them, the client was happy, and everything worked out.
The ice fell heavily as I drove from Omaha, NE to Sioux Falls, SD.  I slowed my SUV to a crawl.  Cars skidded off the highway, everywhere.  And, did you know, when the interstate becomes difficult in the midwest, they just drop these huge arms across the exit and entrance ramps to close the highway?  I eyed them nervously.  They arms were still up.  I had no idea what to do if they dropped.
When I reached my hotel, I got out of the car and immediately fell on my ass.  The ice was so thick, I couldn’t stand.  I cursed, and duck walked into the hotel.  
It was totally empty.  A beautiful Hilton Garden, I had my choice of rooms.  I picked the largest suite,  And was promptly informed the event I was shooting was cancelled.
Sigh.  Stay the night.  Go to the next event, this one in Minneapolis.  I crash in my very luxurious suite.  Kinda happy, honestly, I love a good winter storm, and the ice continued to pelt against my window.
I woke up the next morning.  It was quiet.  Really quiet.  
“Hmmmm…” I thought, “I haven’t been in a hotel this quiet in a long time.”  And chilly.  The room was chilly.  I snuggled into the comforter, half awake, and then woke fully with a start.
The power was out.  I opened the drape.  The window was completely encased in ice.  I checked my iPhone.  My United flight was cancelled.
I would have to drive the 4 hours across the iced tundra to Minneapolis. 
Out in the parking lot, I duck walked to the rental SUV.  It was an ice cube.  I chipped it out, and after a 1/2 hour was on my way, peering through a little chipped peep hole.
You know the movie Day After Tomorrow?  It was just like that.  The 4 hour drive turned to 6, and the forecast was for snow the next morning.  I can’t go six hours without peeing, and since there were NO STARBUCKS, I pulled into a McDonald’s that was actually OPEN.  I tried to get out of the car.  I couldn’t.  The door had completely iced shut.  It was either roll down the window and crawl out Dukes of Hazard style, or enlist help.  The window wouldn’t roll down more than a crack, so I couldn’t even do my Bo Duke imitation if I wanted.  I went to the drive-thru.
Have you ever tried to talk to the little circle speaker through a tiny cracked window?  And, do you know that the staff at this McDonalds didn’t seem at all surprised they had to send someone out to pull on the door while I pushed from the inside with my feet?  I think it happens a lot in these tropical paradises.
But the real problem was after Minneapolis. I was to fly from Milwaukee to Philadelphia to cover the event there.  I knew that flight would never get out on time, so I made alternative arrangements and flew Melanie from Las Vegas on a red eye to cover Philly.  That also meant I had to put her up for an extra night at the 4 Seasons, Philadelphia, to make sure she could check in early the morning she arrived.  For some reason, she didn’t seem at all upset that she had to stay at the 4 Seasons, and asked something about the spa hours.  But I digress.
My Minneapolis event actually happened, as snow flew outside, and all those local Midwest people totally ignored it.  
And JD texted from Jacksonville.
“Ahhh, Mike,” he said, “it’s kinda cool here.  60 or so, how disappointing.”
Bite me JD.  Bite me.  And, Melanie, you can bite me, too.  She texted:
“Mike, this spa is AMAZING.”
I looked at my flight status.  “Your flight is delayed 1028 minutes.”  Sigh.

JD Cantu is my Texas manager.  We go back a ways.  When he moved to Dallas to get away from me, I tracked him down.  Now he’s stuck.