December 22, 2015
Agency Mom: Party Planning Edition
By Tracy Coates
Agency Mom Series
Where would any of us be without our moms? It's hard to match their care, support and exhaustive efforts to make life better for everyone. That's exactly how we feel about Tracy. In this series, Tracy will tell us about the highs and lows of agency life. Like any mom, she wears many hats and does much more than she's asked.
Being in charge of throwing parties has always been a task I enjoy. Raising three girls has made me quite an expert. It starts out innocently, with birthday parties thrown in preschool classrooms or at Chuck E. Cheese and then it progresses to slumber parties, sweet sixteens, graduations, New Years, etc. So when I was asked to plan the annual UPBrand Christmas outing, I knew this was a chance to use my mom skills to their fullest.
As confident as I am at planning parties, this was not without its pressures. I had been with UPBrand for just a couple of months and felt like this was my big debut. And, to pile it on, this party needed to eclipse the very successful (if not epic) traveling karaoke bus extravaganza from last year.
From all accounts, topping the quality of the previous bus, driver and navigator was an obvious place to start. Last year’s event took place on what was a very used, bare bones parking shuttle with a basic karaoke machine duct taped onto the luggage rack. So, those standards weren’t too high.
I found a beautiful limo bus with two screens, a good stereo system and actual upholstery. There was no karaoke equipment, but that could be solved through another rental company. After a few tries, one company “thought” they could connect to the AV equipment in the bus. To make sure we avoided the many possible technology fails, I got them to hook everything up the night before.
I met our karaoke man, Steve, karaoke bus eve. He got everything working and showed me step-by-step how it all worked. Not only was I confident, I was also really excited to see everyone’s reaction to this first class setup. What could possibly go wrong?
The big day was here. Everyone was excited. The bus picked us up—let the party begin! All of the reactions were what I had hoped. This crowd was pumped! That is, until we started to cue up the first song.
And, as any agency veteran knows, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Enter the Peter Principle—which was amazingly written a long time before anyone had even heard the word “dongle” (at least in reference to computer equipment).
So, there we were, rolling along I-44 in our cushy limo bus, looking at an error screen and listening to nothing but the road. “Tell me this isn’t happening,” was all I could think. I called Steve, who luckily answered the phone and attempted to “talk me through it.” It was like a movie scene; you know the one where the flight attendant successfully lands the plane while receiving directions from someone in the tower? Only, this wasn’t a movie and I wasn’t successful.
After several attempts, Steve tells me it’s okay and he’ll just give us a refund. A refund? This day revolves around karaoke, Steve! All of UPBrand has waited a whole year for this moment. Refunds are not an option. I talk him into meeting us en route to see if he, and a new USB cord, can get the show started.
Fortunately, it was early in the day and there were many distractions… a whole cooler full of them, in fact. Steve met us in a Hardee’s parking lot and managed to get his machine and the AV equipment up and running. And, even more fortunately, I saved my reputation as a problem-solver who’s cool under fire, just like a mom of three daughters should be. The raucous day continued as planned—which also meant using many other mom skills that day, but I won’t get into those details.