Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gripe Gripe Gripe

Every year, it comes. Sometimes it’s in October, sometimes November. It comes every year, right on time … and, yet, each year I’m always amazed at just how these conference centers are so unprepared for us.

My first issue came around noon today when, hungry for a small snack and a drink, I decided to find something to eat in the food court (just the words ‘food court’ impart a sense of convenience). After standing in the cashier’s line for about 20 minutes waiting to pay, I was in shock when she told me it would be $26 for a cookie, a small fountain soda, and a bottle of water. Realizing this was totally incorrect, she recalculated the ‘correct’ price, which was just short of $11! I guess she saved me a heart attack by coming up with the $26 price first. And, by the way, the cookie was not big nor was it good!

Next, I walked by the Starbucks just opposite the ‘poster/vendor’ room a little before 3pm and thought there must have been some sort of accident. After all, the pull-down chain door was about ¾ of the way down! Maybe a hot coffee spill? Perhaps the weather is bad outside and the next shift couldn’t make it? I walked over to the Information booth to inquire and was told that Starbucks closes at 3pm (3pm … seriously?). My first reaction was to ask, “Every day?” Fortunately, the woman behind the Information counter feigned more shock than I had, so I didn’t feel like I was completely overreacting.

So the woman began to suggest other options. Apparently, there is a coffee ‘cart’ located down the hallway (I never found it). Also, just two simple escalator rides downstairs from the Information booth is a McDonald’s Express and a pizza place that was so unimpressive, I can’t remember the name. She: “Oh, and then there’s always the food court”. Me (to myself): “No way, unh-huh I’m not going back there”.

You may have guessed that I picked the pizza place. I wasn’t quite so in the mood for coffee anymore and had become hungry. McDonald’s had a huge line and the pizza place didn’t (go figure that), so I went there. There were only 4 people in front of me, but it took so long for the merchant to process credit card payments (come on, how many of us actually pay in cash? Be prepared, people!) that the pizza slice I’d been given was about room temperature by the time I finally got to eat it.

Oh and I haven’t even touched the wifi issue yet. Where are the normal, everyday electrical outlets? I needed to charge my laptop battery (since I am blogging and all), but have had a very tough time finding the regular two-prong outlets. I finally found one, but the wifi connection was so slow that the battery charging took awhile. I might have one small bar of connection, maybe two. Then, at one point, I received a message that ‘too many people were logged on. Try again.’ UGH!

Even as I sit here writing this post, I’m doing it in Word so I can copy and paste whenever I find a somewhat-decent wireless connection.

I’m complaining about the McCormick Place as if we live in an SfN-centric world. The truth is, however, that conferences take place here all the time. So for all those people, their Starbucks closes at 3pm all the time. Credit card processing is slow all the time. Are there any efforts to improve?

Anyone else have gripes about the location???

1 comment:

  1. I share your gripes. I got a $15 sandwich for lunch from the food court. Some of my fellow grad students went to CVS and bought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter to avoid future run-ins.

    Worst of all, though, when I tried to take the shuttle back to my hotel tonight, the shuttle driver got lost. Tourists who'd never been to Chicago before pulled out their maps to give him directions. It took over an hour to get to my hotel -- three miles from the conference center. Tomorrow, I'll be using Metra. It's almost a mile from the hotel, but then the train ride is just 7 minutes.