As many of you know, I have been involved in the planning and execution of a number of Podcamps to date, and I’ve also been involved in providing onsite services to people with disabilities at the Super Bowl in the past. Being part of these large events, inevitably there are last minute fires requiring attention and creative solutions, ranging in degree from “tea candle” to “forest fire”.
And I am left with on default position: “Your failure to plan ahead can no longer constitute an emergency on my part.”
When planning Podcamps for example, schwag like T-shirts have to be ordered weeks in advance. Catering menus need to be set at least a week or more in advance. Yet, at almost every podcamp, there is a mysterious increase in the number of people deciding at the last minute to attend or not attend. This includes speakers cancelling at the last minute, not just attendees, after a schedule has been set, and there is no time to get someone to take their place nor disseminate that information adequately.
I’ve come to expect a certain amount of this last minute stuff with our internet/social media crowd. But I still don’t think it’s really okay. And I think unless planners are willing to put their foot down at some point and say no, no matter how much we would rather say yes, we will continue to get people expecting last minute accommodations because they are unwilling to commit, one way or another, in advance.
We all have last minute emergencies. People get sick. Life happens. But if I buy tickets to a concert and find I am unable to go, that is not the performer’s problem, nor the venue. It is up to me to find someone to go in my stead, or simply “eat” the ticket. If I fail to make dinner reservations in advance, I might not be able to eat at the time or place I wanted to. That’s life, pure and simple.
For Podcamp in particular, every additional person means providing an additional bag/shirt/coffee/chair well after the plans have been solidified and put to bed, and if we haven’t been able to “guess” appropriately in advance, we end up with either too many or too few shirts/food/rooms etc. to meet demand. We can’t do our jobs as well as e would like or have planned, because the last minute folks want to come play.
Don’t get me wrong- I am thrilled when Podcamps seem to develop a buzz and people get excited to attend. I love hosting an event that people find engaging and sometimes even life changing. There’s nothing better. But i do hope people understand as well that their last minute changes cost the organizers lots of extra time and energy just when they are most stressed. When you are in the run-up to an event, there are many details to pin down, and all the last minute changes can make you crazy. The more people fail to plan ahead, the more difficult the job.
So I ask for your cooperation. Please plan ahead as far as possible. Be considerate of the organizers, who are doing this as volunteers. Please be patient, and understanding if things aren’t perfect. And please understand, before changing plans at the last minute, how your changes impact others. And please understand if your last minute change is not the only thing on our lists to handle. We love you and want to help, but so does everyone else. And please understand your last minute need can’t always be my emergency. The tickets for that show have been sold out for days.