It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Unfortunately, it was the latter that greeted me upon arriving in Orlando, Florida at the Automated Imaging Association's business conference.
Originally, I had not planned to attend the conference, delegating the task to our European Editor, David Wilson, whom I decided needed a week in the sun after a cruel English winter.
However, after Jeff Burnstein, the President of the Association, informed me that I was to be presented with the AIA's annual achievement award, my plans quickly changed. After booking my flight, I decided that, after the conference was over, I would treat my brother to visit Mickey and Minnie at Disneyland.
Unfortunately, this was not to be. On the day before the conference, I received a telephone call from Dave who informed me that he had pulled a muscle in his chest and could not get out of bed. And, so, armed with 35 tablets of Vicodin, I disembarked from the airplane to reconnoiter the situation.
From then on, things went south. The "beautiful" International Palms Resort hotel in Florida was not that beautiful -- in fact there were cigarette burns on the carpets, the place was filthy, the shower in my room was broken and the elevators did not work properly. To add to this nightmare, I discovered my brother in great pain lying in bed unable to move. Needless to say, I immediately called for a doctor.
After about two hours, an elderly gentleman arrived with his assistant replete with a bag full of more drugs than my local pharmacy. After what seemed like an hour long exam, my brother was diagnosed with a cracked rib, given an injection of hydrocortisone and a prescription for Vicodin. Needless to say, my brother was somewhat incapacitated for the whole week.
To make matters worse, I only had four hours before accepting my award. After driving to the airport to re-register Dave's car, I drove back to the beautiful International Palms Resort hotel and picked up the prescription. Luckily, there was a pharmacy opposite the hotel. Unluckily, the pharmacist who ran the shop informed me that the doctor had forgotten to write the dosage on the script. After a few telephone calls, I was presented with a bill for $95 for forty-four of the wonderful white tablets.
After I delivered them, I drove the car to the conference to accept my award, only to find some very worried organizers wondering where I had spent most of the day. Only having had four hours sleep, I decided that, after checking on my patient, I would try to get an early night.
Like the rest of my plans, this was not to be. At about 10:15pm that night, two of the attendees at the conference (who must remain nameless) decided to surprise me with a bottle of Moet and Chandon. After sitting around the hotel's swimming pool talking for the next four hours, it was finally time for bed. Four hours later, I went back to attend the rest of the conference.
Needless to say, our European Editor and I never did get to greet any rodents in the Magic Kingdom.