Despite extreme challenges along the way, Wednesday’s speech at the AASHTO Symposium was a huge success. And boy, were there challenges?
Our flight involved a layover in Chicago. We arrived at Midway airport forty minutes late. We were very concerned about missing the connecting flight to Phoenix. To make the connection quicker, I told the flight attendant to inform the ground crew to transfer my chair directly from one plane to the other as opposed to bringing it to me to use in the terminal.
The airport personnel wanted me to use a regular wheelchair to go two gates away, however I cannot sit in a regular wheelchair without a head rest. The aisle chair, also known fondly in wheelchair user circles as the “Hannibal Lecter chair,” has complete head support and would be perfect for the short move two terminals down.
A 10 minute argument ensued. The airport personnel would not do it. Southwest Airlines had to be the ones to push the aisle chair.
When we arrived at the gate, we noticed that the flight had not even been boarded yet. There were mechanical problems and another two hours were tacked onto the length of our voyage.
Our scheduled 6:40 arrival time didn’t happen. We arrived at the hotel around 9:30 and after a room service burger, it was lights out.
The next morning, after showering, I realized that there had been a “wardrobe malfunction” in the packing of my suit. The jacket was packed but the pants and shirt were nowhere to be found! I wore a black T-shirt, some black sweatpants, and a sports jacket!
I didn’t mention it to anyone, and nobody seemed to notice. When it was time for me to speak, I had totally forgotten about it. It wasn’t on my mind and didn’t get in my way.
The speech went well. Yes there were AV problems despite a successful “run through” an hour earlier. But the audience was immediately captivated when I began, and I held their attention throughout my 45 minute
The rousing standing ovation and the higher than average book sales ratio tell me that I was effective in delivering my message. I love what I do.