When last we left our plucky hero, he was at a business “meet & greet” on the 20th floor of a huge skyscraper in downtown LA. The view was great!
The instructions to get to the event were detailed. Someone I described them to said it was like being in a Bond film.
Enter the parking garage here, here, or here. Park on this level. Take the elevator down to this level, not that one. Walk out into the center and take the second escalator up. There’s a relatively obscure, unmarked door next to this store. Security will let you in when you show them your ticket with the QR code. They’ll send you up on the elevator.
Okay, whatever. It’s a secure building. I follow the instructions, park, elevator, escalator, see the well-marked store in question and the unmarked door next to it with security. Security lets me in but never asks to see the QR code on my phone – whatever. 🚩 There’s a table set up there with folks with a list of names and a stack of markers and name tags. I give them my name, they give me a name tag to fill out, then they send me to elevator H. There are about a dozen elevators, but they have no buttons for up, down, or any of the floors. There’s a card reader, so if you work in the building it will let you go to your allowed floor, but if you’re a visitor you go to wherever security has programmed “Car H” to go.
The doors open and I step out into a party, just as expected. I spend the next three hours schmoozing, swapping stories with folks, taking a tour of their very nice, very new office. I have a couple of Diet Cokes (I’m driving, no booze) and a couple of “things on sticks” – shrimp, meatballs, and so on. I tell everyone I talk to about our mission at The ALS Association Golden West Chapter, and I listen to what they do. It’s a civil and structural engineering firm, big projects like the new SoFi Stadium, new terminals at LAX, hospitals, skyscrapers, and so on. 🚩 I hand out business cards, have several people interested in getting a team together for our LA Walk on November 12th. There are a couple of people who have family or friends who have been afflicted by ALS. I was a social freakin’ butterfly. I had fun.
I was invited to the event by our banker, who I talk with on the phone all the time, but largely because of COVID I’ve never actually met in person. All night I’m peering at everyone’s name tag – no sign of her. 🚩 And I thought that there were going to be speakers or guests with some talks about the economy and non-profits. At first I didn’t think anything, figuring we would be social for a while and then have the speakers, but it never happened. Whatever. 🚩
Finally it’s wrapping up and winding down, so I go looking for where the parking validation is. I figured they would mention it because the detailed instructions were quite clear that our expensive parking would be validated. But the couple of folks I talk to don’t know anything about that. 🚩 Maybe it’s at the table by security downstairs. It takes forever to figure out how to call the elevator so I can go back down, but when I get down there the table is deserted. Okay, whatever. I follow my trail of breadcrumbs back out from the unmarked door, down the escalator, across the plaza, into the elevator, back to my car. I pay for parking and figure out how to get on the freeway home.
About 45 minutes later, just as I was getting off the freeway near home, my brain goes “click!” (I could actually hear the sound.)
No! That can’t be!
I get back home and the email invitation is still on my computer screen. Park, elevator, escalator, store, unmarked door. QR code, speakers, offices on the 33rd floor.
Oops. (When did you figure it out?)
I’m glad I had a good time! I’m glad I was a social butterfly and handed out business cards and chatted and ate things on sticks! But I was at the wrong freakin’ party. I had crashed someone’s “new office open house” instead of going to the bank’s meet & greet with a side serving of economic talks.
On the one hand, it’s almost hilariously funny. The Long-Suffering Wife wants to know if I’m going to have a side hustle crashing parties. My boss agreed and thinks I should go crashing random parties downtown and handing out business cards. Our banker thought it was the funniest thing that she’s heard all week. Everyone agreed that the story made their day.
On the other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve felt this stupid 🥴 and embarrassed 😳. I’ll live.
In retrospect, how many red flags did I miss? But while there were several, they all happened separated by time, noting to connect them necessarily, with none of them being sufficient by itself to force a “stop, wait, something wrong here!” moment.
I’m familiar with the concept. There have been a number of aircraft accidents that happened in a similiar way, a series of small mistakes which added up. None of them enough to cause an emergency, but when several folks make mistakes, misunderstandings, with no one having the big picture, all of a sudden they all combine to have someting catastrophic happen. (Look up the “Gimly Glider,” Air Canada Flight 143, an early 767 that ran out of fuel while cruising at 35,000 feet over Canada in 1983.)
This wasn’t catastrophic by any means, more a comedy of errors. Still, it’s a good warning to listen to those odd little warnings and 🚩 instead of passing them off with a “Whatever!”
2 responses to “The Wrong View”
That’s funny. But hey, you had a good time!
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I’m sure I would have done the same as you. 🙂
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