Plumber's Convention Award
In my life outside of music, I work as a Quality Engineer for a major faucet manufacturer. In April of 2009, I was invited to go to a plumbers convention. I sent 3 emails to a few good friends before and after the convention. With a little editing, here are the emails describing the event.
4/16/09 - I thought you would get a kick out of this: Late last year, someone at work asked me to give a tour to a group of plumbers. This is not an unusual request. There are always groups of plumbers that want tours of our plant and we never turn them down. This was the first time I had been asked to give one of these tours. This particular group was from some statewide plumbers’ organization and they were getting some sort of credit with their group for my tour. I spent half of the day on a tour and we fed them lunch. I gave everyone a business card. The only contact I’ve had with them since was a few emails helping them get their credit for the tour and one call with a question about our product. Until this week...
On Tuesday, I received a call from one of the guys from Memphis. He works for either the city or county government as a plumbing inspector. We played phone tag for about a day and a half. I wasn't looking forward to talking to him because I thought he would have a complaint or ask some question about code requirements that I don’t usually deal with. When I finally talked to him, he invited me to a banquet in Memphis next week. Not only that, they want to give me a plaque for something like the supplier/partner of the year! I don’t know if this award is for me or for my company. Either way, I can’t really turn it down. I figure an opportunity to go to a plumbers banquet and receive an award may be even better than going to Elvis Death week.
I do have one reservation: I’m afraid I might be asked to say something. Since I’m not familiar with the group or their banquet, I really don’t know what is expected. Add to that the fact that I don’t know if I’m receiving this award for myself or the company. It makes it hard to plan. I’m not really nervous about it but I have been known to screw up when asked to speak at the last minute at a banquet.
So, I thought about having something worked up just in case I have to say anything. My first thought was to this routine by Steve Martin from his first album:
Ok, I don't like to gear my material to the audience but I'd like to make an exception because I was told that there is a convention of plumbers in San Francisco this week - I understand about 30 of them came down to the show tonight - so before I came out I worked-up a joke especially for the plumbers. Those of you who aren't plumbers probably won't get this and won't think it's funny, but I think those of you who are plumbers will really enjoy this...
This lawn supervisor was out on a sprinkler maintenance job and he started working on a Findlay sprinkler head with a Langstrom 7" gangly wrench. Just then, this little apprentice leaned over and said, "You can't work on a Findlay sprinkler head with a Langstrom 7" wrench." Well this infuriated the supervisor, so he went and got Volume 14 of the Kinsley manual, and he reads to him and says, "The Langstrom 7" wrench can be used with the Findlay sprocket." Just then, the little apprentice leaned over and said, "It says sprocket not socket!"
Where those plumbers supposed to be at this show???
4/22/09 - Last night, I arrived at the Memphis Hilton just after 6. The lobby of the hotel was unusually busy for that time of day. It appeared that large numbers of people were either checking in or checking out. I wasn't sure of the name of the organization or the event I was attending until I found a list of events taking place at the hotel. It listed a full day’s worth of events for a group called the Tennessee Building Officials Association (TBOA) including the President’s Reception at 6 and the banquet at 7. I made my way to the area for the reception but I didn't see an area to check in or anyone that I recognized. Finally, a guy from Tullahoma named “Boomer” that had been on the tour came up and took me to the reception room for the smaller group, the Tennessee Plumbing and Mechanical Inspectors Association (TPMIA). On the way to this room, Boomer tells me that the hotel had an electrical fire earlier in the day and they had shut down the tower of the hotel. This meant that no one from the group was able to go to their room and change for the banquet. It also meant that since my award was up in the room, I would not be receiving it tonight. In the reception room, I ran into Tom, the guy from Shelby County that had contacted me last week about the banquet. Tom is the secretary of the TPMIA and Boomer is the Treasurer. I hung out with them for the rest of the night. The reception room had no air conditioning but it did have a cooler of beer and a huge barrel shaped container of cheese balls.
The meal at the banquet was OK but it included sweet potatoes. This might have been alright if my wife hadn't had a few too many failed sweet potato experiments in the past couple of weeks. During the banquet, I found myself giving standing ovations to people I knew absolutely nothing about. The keynote speaker had played golf that afternoon so he was dressed in a golf shirt and was wearing a visor. I felt at least a little over dressed in my coat and tie. I learned more than I ever cared to know about a group called the International Codes Council (ICC). I learned about the intrigue of the Minneapolis meeting last year where there was a big uproar concerning changes to codes concerning one and two family residential sprinkler systems. The keynote speaker, also the secretary of the ICC said, “the people who were at the meeting know what the HELL happened and know that meeting didn't go until 2 in the morning!” I began to have flashbacks to a Michael Franks concert I went to years ago. I went to see the opening act, Stanley Jordan, and I had no idea who Michael Franks was. The place was packed but we managed to get great seats the day of the show. We were surrounded by people who knew this music and were shouting out requests and we didn't know anything about this music. We really felt out of place. The big difference between that show and this banquet was that the people at the banquet didn't seem to get as excited. But how excited can you really get about building codes. Unless of course, you are talking about one and two family sprinkler systems.
There were continuous updates about the status of the rooms and plans for the evening. Much of the business of the banquet was postponed or eliminated. This was done because they were going to allow people to go into the tower in groups of 40 with flashlights to get enough things for the evening. When they came back down, they would be taken by bus to a Marriott for the evening. Only two awards were given at the banquet. Both of those were from the TBOA. My award was Associate of the Year from the TPMIA. Shelby County Tom will be delivering it to me in the next couple of weeks when he going to the Jackson area for turkey hunting.
5/11/09 - I received the plaque today.
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