The funny thing about having dinner in Queens this evening was that I was supposed to have been in Las Vegas.
I had been contacted a few months ago by the American Society of Interior Designers to speak on a panel at the IntersectWest conference there. Apparently someone had seen me speak on a panel the previous May about foodservice trends at HDExpo 2007 and wanted to duplicate that very panel.
Now, I don't know why one group of designers would want to put on the same panel that a design magazine put on less than a year earlier. Surely it would attract a similar crowd and look boring, repetitive and kind of stupid.
But I figured I could update my PowerPoint presentation with new and fascinating information, and clean up the layout a bit as the HDExpo 2007 attendees, while drinking with me later, had praised my information but disparaged the layout, so that even if the ASID looked silly, I would not.
Today's Wednesday, and by Monday I had finished all the work I needed to do for my regular job at Nation's Restaurant News. I'd had to back out of a Super Bowl party that I really would have liked to go to (thrown by my excellent colleague Milford Prewitt) to finish my work, but I did it. I had set up nice meals to have in Las Vegas, and was ready to leave the following day. I e-mailed my contacts at ASID and asked if they needed anything else from me, and I asked at what hotel I was staying.
I got a reply, from the person who had replaced one of my contacts, with a press release attached. The release said that IntersectWest 2008 had been canceled. The release was dated January 23. Hadn't I heard?
I wondered how I would have heard if they hadn't told me, since, being a food writer, I am not generally informed about the scheduling of design conferences any more than I'm informed about the price of tungsten or the latest innovations in printed circuit board assemblies.
Since it hadn't been rescheduled, they were releasing me from my contract.
Wasn't that nice of them, releasing me from my contract?
The contract had said basically that I would show up and that they would pay for my flight and lodging.
My new contact also told me I would be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses I'd incurred.
I thought of flying to Las Vegas anyway and billing ASID for my flight and lodging. But instead I went to Jet Blue's web site and learned that I could cancel my flight for just $40.
So I billed ASID for $40. I was told it would be taken care of, and I believe it.
Today I got an e-mail from another one of my contacts, whom I'd also asked if they needed anything else from me and wondering where I was staying, saying she wasn't sure what I was asking about to.
I said that explained why she and everyone else at ASID had neglected to tell me that IntersectWest had been canceled.
Her answer was priceless and exemplifies what's wrong with America: "I didn’t neglect to tell you about Intersect/West because I wasn’t working with that and had no idea it was cancelled."
You see, that's the wrong answer.
The right answer is, "I'm sorry."