Normally, these conference work trips didn’t leave a lot of time to to venture out or do any real exploring in a visiting city. We usually would only stay two nights since the conference would start on Thursday and end on Saturday. Normally this would be fine, but I found myself secretly hoping that there would be some way we could slip away from our work duties to soak in some of what Orlando had to offer. I wasn’t asking to immerse ourselves in theme parks and beaches, but I still welcomed any chance of capturing some small memory of Orlando that was non-conference related. Miraculously, an adjustment to our itinerary worked heavily in our favor and created a scheduling shift that blew a window of opportunity wide open. Here is what happened.
Since the conference started with the Best Practices Showcase on Thursday afternoon, our business unit manager scheduled a meeting the day before, on Wednesday, for a select few team members to give a safety presentation to the other business unit sites in front of the corporate manager. Therefore, we were told to arrive in Orlando on Tuesday of that week to be ready to present on Wednesday. But upon arrival on Tuesday, we were informed that the corporate manager pushed the presentations back until Thursday morning. Voila! We had ourselves an entire free day on Wednesday. This was a golden ticket. Not only were we in Orlando, home to some of the greatest tourist attractions on Earth. But it was Spring Break during the start of March Madness, and Bay Hill was hosting the Arnold Palmer Invitational that same week. Somehow someway, we were gifted with an obligation-free Wednesday to do whatever we wanted. It felt like I wished it into existence.
As if that wasn’t enough of a treat, the management team treated us all to a fancy dinner at The Capital Grille once we arrived Tuesday evening. It was a wonderfully extravagant evening of ordering dishes that I usually cannot afford, sampling wine and sharing desserts with managers we do not usually get to rub elbows with. It was the kind of restaurant that had far too much silverware and far too little lighting. In the midst of all of the indulging, I remembered questioning to myself whether I deserved to be spoiled in this way. Nonetheless, I graciously took part while mentally pondering how I would spend my Wednesday. There were a myriad of options. Spend the day at a theme park. Or make it to the beach. There was shopping and sightseeing with tons of other tourists. If I recall one, one of my coworkers drove the rental car all the way to Tampa. Another slept off a hangover from the night before and lounged around the hotel for the day. As for me, I had golf on my mind.