humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Kvetching, Project Management, PSAs

The Career You Should Pursue if You Hate Being Happy


I love my coworkers and get to do a lot of cool things at my job. Last week, however, involved the kind of work you should only do if you hate joy.

Event management.

Now, I’ve done a lot of event planning in my day, and it can be hugely rewarding. But even in those cases, it’s filled with chaos and unpredictability. No matter how much you plan pray, anticipate, pray and prepare pray, nothing ever goes 100% smoothly. You just have to hope no one else notices.

Kind of like this.

When I got to the event location last week, my stomach dropped. Not enough chairs. I had requested more chairs the night before, but it still wasn’t enough; people were filtering in late and filling the aisles, disrupting the meeting. In four years, we’d never had such a turn-out. A great problem to have, but once again, experience and pre-planning did diddly-squat, resulting in me looking like an incompetent asshat.

I stood against the wall trying to tell myself it wasn’t a big deal, my stomach knotting as I begun to realize there was no way we were going to have enough time to transition from the current meeting set-up to the one beginning 15 minutes later.

And I was going to have 100+ people, including The Big Boss, there to witness me not making things happen.

I braced myself like Michael Richards circa 2006.

“Sooo, 13 years later and you still can’t go out in public? Impressive.” Photo credit

When the dreaded 15 minute transition period hit, the A/V crew ran around plugging and pulling things from the podium while I frantically tried to set up my laptop and connect to the new audio conference line.

go jules go event planning
Six minutes ’til showtime.

“Is the speaker here?” Big Boss asked.

I smiled serenely. “He is! [Coworker] just went to get him!”

I returned my gaze to the computer screen, checking to see if I had the updated presentation materials that had come in minutes before. Hurry, hurry, hurry, I thought, knowing pretty soon my screen would be projected in front of 100 people so I’d better get the hell out of my inbox.

Okay, download new slides to desktop, close Outlook, sound off, Instant messenger off, PowerPoint slides open for each of the speakers, oh crap you need the webcast link from the email, open Outlook, get link, dial in, is screen working yet, where is the new A/V team, why can’t I hear anything on the line, do we have enough lavalier mics, where is the handheld, holy crap it’s loud in here and I can’t hear the operator, this is never going to work, oh my god, why did we think this was going to work, is the speaker here, is he mic’d, oookay now everyone is seeing a picture of my dog (just kidding I totally wanted that to happen), does Big Boss have her intro notes

go jules go desktop uncle jesse
You’re welcome.

Okay. Okay. We have lift off! Holy sh*t what is that box on the screen and how do I get rid of it? Okay, okay, we can just slide it over here in the corner… okay, we’re fine, we’re fine…Oh my GOD that’s the wrong slide deck, say hi to Uncle Jesse again everyone…okay, we’re moving along now…oh for the LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY his mic isn’t turned on…

Once the main speaker took the stage, the next 45 minutes went by in a blur, my only thought being, Please please please let that be the updated version of his slides WITHOUT ANY EMBEDDED VIDEOS DEAR GOD PLEASE and let everyone on the line actually be able to hear. The speaker was a pro and fielded questions from a lively, engaged audience, allowing me to convince myself that in the end, the entire thing was a smashing success.

As soon as it ended, I grabbed my lap top, made a beeline for the parking lot, and wept into my ice cold coffee.

A *gulp* smashing *sob* success.


To event planners everywhere: I bow down to you (which you probably can’t see because you’re too busy wiping snot off your travel mug). …Can you please share your secrets?


17 thoughts on “The Career You Should Pursue if You Hate Being Happy”

  1. i used to plan a lot of promotional events in my old job, as well as catering. always a behind the scenes drama/unexpected event. somehow we all survive, but not easy. p.s. i love the inside out workout pants, i have done many similar things and i can identify ))

  2. I feel like more people need to know which career to choose if you hate being happy. The best way to let people know is probably organizing some sort of event.

    I’ve got to admit I’ve found myself attracted to event management at times. I’ve been a part of hundreds of comedy and business events, and I typically use my own mix of project management frameworks, but I’d be interested to know how the professionals plan something large scale. I do a lot of smaller events on a regular basis and it’s easy to have a retrospective to figure out what lessons learned will make the next event 10% better, but I don’t know how you can anticipate every unknown for a large scale event that you might only do once or twice a year. If something goes wrong I feel better by immediately putting it in my notes as a lesson learned and I can get it right two weeks later. I don’t want to be part of any event I’m only doing once and it won’t be obvious how to apply lessons learned to the rest of my work.

    1. I think we should coordinate an entire lecture series called Career Choices for Joyless Living, but only if all of the presentations include embedded videos and we specifically set out seven fewer chairs than needed.

      Now I want to do nothing but come up with titles for that series. Jobs & Sobs. Get Hired for the Job You Hate. Why Limit Yourself to Meaningful Work?

  3. LOVE THIS!! And while i’ve never been an event planner, I have certainly been an event “atendee”, I can assure you, it is very likely that all of the “behind the scenes” ruminating was never noticed! You are magnificent and so glad you shared!!! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Also, I don’t think I replied to your comment about wine ‘n Tweeting. IMHO, this is the only proper way to engage on social media. I’ve been blogging drunk since 2011.

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