Carol Edwards carried her attach case into the inn's main ballroom and pulled up short, her heart skipping a beat. The event being staged there was not hers. She turned and marched away to the hotel manager's office, where she registered a blistering but now pointless complaint and then, at the front desk, waited anxiously as a frontman turned from his computer screen with an accommodating smile. "Yes, Ms. Edwards," he said, "they're waiting for you at the fire pits."
"The pits " Edwards mumbled. "Thank you."
For other guests, the tony inn's signature blend of rustic luxury was continually refreshing. Here, the lobby's towering cathedral ceiling framed a massive stone fireplace, in which a fire always blazed. For most, it was a warm, welcoming place, but Edwards now passed obliviously outside into the cool twilight.
She found Kim Lang, the inventive and resourceful computer artist, and Mark Shoener, the audiovisual ace, nursing sodas around one of the blazing pits. Dressed in suits , they looked out of place on the deck. But as Edwards strode up, she could see that otherwise the two Penney production people were behaving like everyone else ”beaming at the ocean view, pleased with their surroundings, fully enjoying themselves .
"So," Edwards said, "I assume you've heard ?" Her colleagues looked around with patient smiles.
"We've heard," said Shoener.
"Well, you don't seem very upset," Edwards said, dropping into a chair .
"Carol," Lang said, "this kind of thing happens all the time."
"So what do we do now?" A waiter was instantly upon Edwards and she waved him off with, "Nothing now." Her voice made it sound more like an assessment of the moment than a service issue.
Now Shoener hit Edwards with a big grin and wagged his forefinger. "Carol," he said, "what you don't understand is, there's a patron saint of business conferences, and it's St. Murphy. And when St. Murphy finds out everything is going as planned, you know what St. Murphy does?"
" Please , Mark." Edwards had a sense of humor, but it was nowhere to be found at the moment. She looked up into the evening sky as if for an answer. "Kerry Graham should have doublechecked. Months ago. Or maybe I should have."
"Hey, not to worry," assured Lang.
"We'll just have a good dinner and set up when the ballroom clears," said Shoener. "Join us?"
"Thanks," said Edwards, rising . "But I'd better find Graham and make sure they know it'll be a late night."
Elsewhere in the inn, many of those who would form Edwards's audience were now enjoying a reception . They were LPGA touring pros and hierarchy, club pros, women's golf advocates, tournament staffs, marketers and vendors , many having arrived during the day to get in a round and enjoy a pleasant evening before attending the LPGA-hosted Women in Golf Summit.
As Edwards passed through the lobby, she felt a chill. Not only would the summit staging and production people now have to work far into the night, the tech part could actually be in trouble. If they did get everything finished tonight, the people at the controls would no doubt be operating on little or no sleep. And despite the ability and confidence of Shoener and Lang, tomorrow's general session and keynote speech could crash.