How Many People Does It Take…

Last Thursday we stuffed tote bags for the upcoming Bay to Ocean Writers Conference scheduled for Saturday, February 28, 2015. It’s the 18th conference and we’ve never had to cancel because of weather. All the volunteers involved are hoping the weather gods smile on us writers once again.

We were supposed to stuff the bags at Laura’s office in her conference room on Wednesday night this week. Because of the snow and ice we moved stuffing to Thursday night. Laura emailed that her parking lot was icy and not much room to maneuver, so we decided to stuff the totes Thursday afternoon. My husband said he would help so even if it was just the three of us we could have gotten most of it done.

We arrived at 12:15. The first thing we had to do was use the hand truck to move boxes of tote bags and the stuff that was to go inside them from an office at the front of Laura’s office building to the conference in the rear. Then we opened boxes and put piles of items on the conference table in the order we wanted them picked up. By 1:00 we were starting to stuff bags.

My husband, Roger, is a number cruncher guy. I totally don’t get it, but he sometimes does it to amuse himself (so he tells me) and to keep his brain occupied. Before he saw what went into the totes, he told me that if the three of us took one minute per bag, we would finish in four hours and twenty minutes. (We had to stuff 260 bags.)

Once we got everything laid out, and a fourth person arrived to help, he revised his estimate. He said the four of us were assembling five totes per minute. That meant we would be finished in 52 minutes. Then three more people showed up to help.

At that point he recognized that we had already assembled six boxes with ten packets in each box. We had 200 left to go. At ten per minute he estimated we would be finished in 20 minutes and had to restrain himself from calling that out to the workers. We were like donkeys circling a grist mill, walking around the oval conference table picking up assorted magazines, Delmarva Reviews, Digital Treasure Hunt handouts, the conference evaluation form and the Conference Program and sliding them into a waiting tote held open by another donkey.

The boxes of filled totes were then transported back (using two hand trucks) to the front office where people will stop by and pick them up to deliver to the conference. We were finished in less than two hours. If we’d had more people, they would have gotten in the way.

[I often wonder what it is like to live in my husband’s brain. Occasionally he can’t help himself like the time we were in an airplane and calculated if the passengers were an average weight, how many pounds of passengers were on the plane. To give that sort of information to an anxious person like me who really doesn’t understand how airplanes even get off the ground, is just cruel. He learned his lesson and while he’s probably still doing those calculations when we fly, he no longer shares.]

The BTO tote bags are stuffed and ready to go. All we have to stress about now is the possibility of a “weather event” and presenters getting sick. All of us who volunteer love the conference, but we’re always glad when its over. We take a six week hiatus and then begin planning for the next one.

Note: I’ve been trying to add photos to this post for three days, but WordPress is not cooperating, so I am publishing without the photos.

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