Doris fumbled with the room key. Looped around her left forearm was a large tote bag that contained her purse, a bulky digital
camera and other numerous "necessities" she had lugged onto the plane earlier that afternoon. Around her right forearm sat
the pull handle from her luggage and another strap from a large clothing bag. In her teeth, she clenched the hotel receipt
and a brochure for a local museum.
She kicked the door open and careened into the darkened room. "Looks all right," she muttered. "Got to get to Registration."
She dug into the tote bag, pulled out her cell phone and dialed a familiar number.
"Jamie, hey, what room are you in? I just got here ... Don't ask; I barely made the flight. And then I had no idea where the
hotel was. I didn't even remember the name of the hotel at first. I told the cabbie it started with an 'M,' and he laughed
and said there are 10 hotels that start with 'M' in the city. I said there was a convention center next door, and he drove
me here. I had to open my luggage in the lobby to find my reservation. Thankfully, I was in the right place."
Jamie smiled on the other end. "You never could get organized," she scolded her old friend. "I realized that a long time ago
in vet school."
Doris winced, and then asked, "Have you found Registration yet?"
"Sure have. I registered online and then picked up my badge and stuff earlier today. It was easy."
"Would you help me find it? Maybe we can grab a bite to eat afterward."
"No problem," Jamie said. "I'm hungry, and we can attend that speaker forum on laser surgery up in Ballroom B. There's a free
catered meal with it."
"Free meal and forum?" Doris mumbled. "I didn't know about that."
Thirty minutes later Jamie was leading the way to Registration, where they found a long line. They used the time to talk shop.
Since graduation several years ago, the two had met at industry conventions from time to time. Both were now seasoned small-animal
clinicians and needed CE to maintain their licensure. Big meetings fit the bill.
As the wait dragged on, they ran out of ready conversation. Both fell silent until Doris finally plopped her purse on the
Moments later, Doris sported a backpack filled with meeting information, a massive convention program and an array of promotions
and dog treats.
"What time is it, Jamie?"
"It's 7:15. The dinner meeting's already half over. If we hurry we can get some food and hear the experts."
As they approached the session, they could hear laughter and applause from within. They peered through the massive double
doorway and saw the hotel staff carrying away the last vestiges of the free meal.
"Drat!" exclaimed Jamie. "Missed a free meal! Let's sit in on the session anyway."
By the time they found seats, the speakers were wrapping up. They had missed all but a few moments of jovial banter.
After eating a hot dog from an outside vendor, they made plans to meet for lunch the next day and headed off to their rooms.
The next morning Doris dumped the contents of her backpack on the unmade bed. She pored over the program, looking for promising
sessions. She loved feline medicine and intended to check the offerings. She stuffed it all back into the backpack and headed
down to the lobby.
A couple hours later, Jamie looked at her watch. Doris was late. She sipped from her second glass of water.