Volunteering added a level of confidence to my experience at the conference that allowed me to meet people as a part of my duties. At the registration desk (C-D) I had the opportunity to have face time with many arriving members of all experience levels and met other volunteers that I chatted with wile most of the arriving attendees were one floor down in the nightmarish hotel check-in line or driving around Springfield, MA in search of a parking space. I also had the opportunity to people watch and was intrigued by a man who styled liked Brad Pitt in the movie SNATCHED, lets say he had flair and I love that in people and set my sights on speaking to this person before I left the conference.
Checking in portfolios (M-Z) I met my fellow delightful volunteers: The efficient Meg Lysaght Thacher, (A-L Check in person); the bubbly talent Marcela Staudenmaier; and the leader of the gang Ruth Sanderson. It was fun and I met Carol another local PB writer/illustrator in the next town who I hit it off with and hope to run in to on the beach. At the end of day one I had a group of people I knew and could greet and chat with, an awesome start.
Day two and three brought a full day of meeting new people every time I sat in a new room particularly the ball room. Typical me I arrive late-ish at each sitting but this forces me to sit between two people who I have never met and bravely talk to strangers. Sometimes the conversation was easy to start rolling, such as; sitting next to Lucky Karen, who I watched draw a collaboration teacup with the "Peter Hamilton Reynolds" at his fireside chat. She was very nice and her friends and critique group Pricilla and Ellen Gaffney welcomed me into their lunch time conversations so I felt part of the group.
At the end of day three exhausted and exhilarated, I disassembled my name badge ready to recycle the plastic tag holder when who walks by me but "Brad Pitt lookalike". Still brave, I stop him. "You look just like Brad Bitt in Snached, have you seen the movie? He plays a Gypsy."
"An Irish guy, right" he says
"That's the one"
"Do I see a volunteer badge there?
"Oh, Yeah" I say looking at the folded worn golden ticket in my hand, " I love to volunteer and this is my first conference, so it is a nice fit."
"Great! Nice conference here"
"Where are you from"
"By the way, I'm Heather"
"Nice to talk to a guy here, there are not many of you and I notice you men travel in packs."
"If I was looking for a single woman this would be the place."
OH GOODNESS ME he thinks I am trying to pick him up. Me and my unfiltered observations.
"Oh, No! That is just a funny little fact I noticed. Changing gears fast "What do you do Bruce?"
"I write and illustrate, I have over 30 published books, I gave three work shops......."
So now I have to find out who he is and with a little research I discover it is Bruce Hale, who has just gained a new fan.
What a way to end the conference!