Every Tech Conference Ever

This is the true story of my adventures at basically every tech conference I’ve been to.

The Day Before

2:34 pm: Toddler screaming on the airplane. Still 2 hours to landing.

5:15 pm: Crowds of people block the sidewalk in the ride share garage. The Lyft app says 4 minutes to arrival — my driver doesn’t arrive for 25.

5:57 pm: I get to a really nice hotel that’s way more luxurious than necessary. I draw a bath and soak in a massive tub with a glass of wine, wondering why I don’t do this more often at home.

8:25 pm: I wake up from an evening nap, hungry. Normally I eat low budget, but since my company is paying, I’m searching for $$$ or $$$$ restaurants on Yelp. My coworker hasn’t replied to my text, so I’m probably eating alone tonight.

9:04 pm: My filet mignon steak arrives. It’s bland. But the 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is delicious, so I’m happy.

10:32 pm: I finish checking emails and Slack messages and close my MacBook Pro inundated with tech stickers. I roll around in bed miserably for half an hour before I finally doze off.

Lots and lots of stickers. Source: genesis_3g (Pixabay)

12:25 pm: I stumble into the restroom and take a Melatonin pill because my evening nap f-cked up my sleep schedule.

The First Day

6:15 am: The alarm shocks me awake. I’m drowsy from a night of little sleep and hit snooze.

6:35 am: I finally dismiss the alarm on my iPhone and quickly check my Slack messages before getting ready. I go to a nearby cafe for breakfast.

7:26 am: My waitress picks up my empty plate, and I think about how I would never have paid so much money for such a mediocre breakfast. But then I upload the receipt to Expensify, and all is well again. I call another Lyft to the conference venue.

7:42 am: Other sponsors are already bustling about as I begin unpacking boxes of swag at our booth. We’re raffling off a Nintendo Switch and Bose headphones — the same has 20 other companies.

7:58 am: I have a conversation with that one engineer I see at every conference.

Me: Oh, hey! What’s up? Didn’t I see you at, uh… at…

Them: KubeCon? DockerCon? Google Next? AWS re:Invent?

Me: Actually, all of them?

8:25 am: Coworker comes back with catered breakfast. I go to get some coffee, and after taking a sip, I start to wish I had stopped at Philz beforehand.

9:00 am: Company hosting the conference kicks off the event with an announcement about some new, exciting projects that will revolutionize the industry. Everyone in the audience cheers and whoops even though fewer than half of them will even try said products.

10:00 am: The first breakout session / workshop begins. It’s titled, “Life, Death, and How DevOps Improved My Love Life”. The speaker spends the majority of the hour and a half reminiscing about their personal life and making obscure tech innuendos.

11:32 am: An engineer stops by to say hi and let us know how much they love our product.

Them: I love you guys! Can I have a t-shirt?

Me: Sure! Are you a current customer?

Them: No, but my mom is.

12:03 pm: I get in line for food. Since I’m only booth staff and not full-pass attendee, I get the sh*tty boxed lunch. I look over at the other table longingly as I smell the delicious aromas of garlic and cheese.

1:51 pm: An engineering manager stops by to criticize our product.

Them: Yeah so, why should we pay for your product when we can use [open-source alternative] for free and implement all the features we want?

Me: ಠ_ಠ *sigh* But is that what you want your engineers to spend time on?

2:43 pm: Someone stops by the booth and listens to me patiently as I pitch our product. When I ask what tools their company is using, they inform me they’re a student.

Source: Tenor.com

3:17 pm: Nobody’s at our booth, so I pull out my laptop and check emails. A prospect is completely blocked, we’re having an outage, and I have a backlog of another 30 urgent emails. My coworker is checking Tinder.

4:39 pm: Another engineering manager stops by to talk about a very specific feature we don’t have.

Them: [2-minute wind-up]… and that’s why my dog’s name is Unicorn. Anyways, I love your product, but not having [very specific feature] is a blocker for us. Do you have a timeline or ETA for this?

Me: I don’t know, but I can check with our product team. Can I set up a call after this conf—

Them: I’ll stop by again tomorrow.

5:59 pm: Straggler drops by and asks us for swag. They grab one of everything, stuff them into their tote bags, and walk away like they’ve just finished a shopping spree. How do these people fit swag in their suitcases going home?

Source: freestocks.org (Pexels)

The Second Day

7:00 am: I wake up with a headache from drinking with coworkers the night before.

8:03 am: Hardly anyone (other than sponsors) is at the conference yet, so I awkwardly play with our stickers.

9:37 am: I have the same conversation for the 50th time this conference:

Them: So, what does [your company] do?

Me: We do [generic statement about product]. What are you using today?

Them: Oh, we’re using [1 of 15 alternatives].

Me: Oh, uh huh. Yep, I’m *very* familiar with them.

10:01 am: I awkwardly rub the scanner against an attendee’s badge that won’t scan. I try for 10 seconds and then give up because it’s getting awkward.

10:47 am: Everyone’s in a workshop or keynote, so I haven’t talked to anybody in a while. My coworkers are talking about sports and who killed Tupac.

11:47 am: Crowd is exiting from keynote. Manager from yesterday stops back by to ask about updates on that one feature.

Them: So, do you have any updates on [very specific feature product doesn’t have]?

Me: Uh, nope. It’s only been 19 hours since you last asked. Can I set up a call for after the conference? I’d love to better understand why you need this feature.

Them: No it’s okay thanks. *leaves*.

Me: …

2:26 pm: A pair of other sponsors drop by and briefly chat about how our companies should partner together. I hand them our BizDev team’s cards and never see or hear from them again.

2:35 pm: Engineer stops by and says nothing.

Me: Hey, have you ever heard of [our company] before?

Them: *Ignores me, stares, then walks away*

Me: (°—°)

Coworker: (°—°)

Source: Tenor.com

3:54 pm: A person that was definitely at our booth yesterday comes back by again.

Them: Can I have a t-shirt?

Me: You got one yesterday.

Them: Somebody stole it.

Me: Nobody steals $5 tech t-shirts.

4:23 pm: My conversation is interrupted for the 3rd time when the crowd at another sponsor’s booth starts cheering and screaming after a “magic” trick.

The Third Day

10:01 am: The convention hall is markedly emptier than it has been the last two days. I’m reading yet another Medium article about burnout in the tech industry.

1:04 pm: One of my coworkers is getting ready to leave and catch their flight. I go to shake their hand, and we engage in awkward hand acrobatics because neither of us knows what the other is trying to do.

Source: Tenor.com

12:34 pm: I’m sad because the quality of the boxed lunches has been getting worse each day. Today, the menu is a chicken salad sandwich that tastes like cardboard.

2:16 pm: I walk by a large booth when one of their representatives, the most bro-ist bro I have ever seen, invites me to “check them out.”

Them: Hey man, come check out our demo! We’re raffling out a quadcopter!

Me: We’re already a customer.

Them: Oh… *turns to someone else*
Hey dude! Want a quadcopter?!

3:04 pm: Some other sponsors stop by our booth to exchange swag.

Them: Hey, you want some swag in exchange for a scan?

Me: Sure, if you’ll do the same for us. Gotta hit those numbers somehow…

3:30 pm: The day / conference isn’t technically over yet, but there are few people, and everyone’s tired. We pack up early and go home.

List of Mentioned Apps and Brands

  • Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones II - The second version of Bose’s Bluetooth, wireless, and noise-canceling headphones.
  • Expensify - An app for managing expenses and budget reports.
  • iPhone 11 - Apple’s latest iPhone.
  • Lyft - A rideshare service.
  • Macbook Pro 16 - Apple’s latest version of their Macbook Pro.
  • Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon (2015) - Delicious red wine that pairs well with red meats.
  • Nintendo Switch - The latest game console created by Nintendo.
  • Philz - A popular coffee chain headquartered and based in the Bay Area.
  • Slack - A popular chat app used predominantly by businesses.
  • Tinder - A popular dating app that popularized the idea of “swiping” profiles and dates.
  • Yelp - An online app for finding and reviewing restaurants and other stores.