By Dom Serafini
The day started promisingly, i.e. without complaints. The schedule was relatively light: The routine morning editorial meeting, one seminar worth attending, a visit with a potential news source, lunch on the beach with a friend, writing a short article for one of our dailies. And basically that was it, with the end of the day being topped off by one of the usual cocktail receptions.
That was the plan anyway. But as soon as I started walking down the Croisette heading to the editorial meeting, one of VideoAge’s distribution coordinators calmly reported that copies of that day’s Mipcom Jr. daily were nowhere to be found at her designated hotel. Even though it was one of the smaller inns, it was, nevertheless, important for us, considering that we pride ourselves on blanket distribution.
Together we headed to the hotel. Just before arriving at the place, however, the printer called my cell phone about a page to be readied for the next day’s daily, which needed immediate attention. Too early to call the staff in the New York office and too late to call back some of the operational staff in Cannes –– who were by then going about their duties –– I decided to head back to the hotel in order to get the info requested by the printer.
On my way there I met the person with whom I had the appointment, but I wasn’t able to reschedule it due to his fully booked agenda. Just after entering the hotel, while we were trying to find a place to sit, a top-level executive who I had been trying to meet for many months came toward me offering an opportunity that surely couldn’t be missed. Juggling two hot potatoes at once, I cut the first meeting short, but unfortunately not early enough to spend some quality time with the second.
After that awkward experience, I reached my hotel room and started looking for the printers’ information; I felt that the room was extremely hot. Earlier, after checking in at the Martinez, since I knew that the central air conditioning system was shut down due to the end of the summer season, I had asked for one of the few keys to open the sliding window. Because the window overlooked a roof, representing a safety risk, the hotel maid had closed it and taken the key with her.
Now, this was a situation that needed to be solved immediately to avoid the risk of not being able to sleep at night due to the heat. The maid had given the window key to the service man and now she was trying to locate him. While waiting for the key to be returned, it occurred to me that I was already late for the lunch meeting. When I reached the restaurant on the beach, the outside area had to be unexpectedly closed and they could not accommodate us inside due to construction.
Patiently, my guest and I wandered around trying to find a place to sit. We ended up on some uncomfortable bar stools at a sandwich shop on Rue d’Antibes. Naturally, not much could be discussed, and we soon departed with the promise to give it a try on another day.
Meanwhile, the seminar deemed worth attending had ended, so rather than spend time listening to one of the many self-promotional sessions, I decided to register for the main market, so I made a dash for the press registration tent, which unfortunately, wasn’t yet open.
Determined to stick to my original schedule — or what was left of it — I schlepped to VideoAge’s editorial offices to write a story from the notes of my earlier, truncated interview. Nothing doing! The room had just been restructured and equipped with electrical sockets, which did not match my U.S. electrical adaptors (there are two types of electrical sockets in France) and my laptop was completely out of battery power. Because all other computers were being used, I headed to the computer rental store at the corner of Rue d’Antibes and Rue Françoise Libre, only to find that it was closed for the day.
A bit discouraged and in need of a drink or, better yet, champagne, I started to direct myself to the location of the reception I was expected to attend. When I arrived, the security guards at the entrance asked for the invitation, which I did not have since it was sent via e-mail in the form of a notice which said that the actual invitation would be found in my press pigeon hole, which was not yet ready to access.
Without a badge and with no company representative or PR agent at the door to recognize me, the only thing to do was to leave and go back to the hotel.
Tired and depressed I arrived at the hotel, where my wife reached me on the phone, curious to find out about my day: “So what have you accomplished today? Did you have a good day?” she asked. Since, in my view, men should always have the last word, I answered, with a man’s typical last word: “Yes, dear!”
But, thinking about the answer, it occurred to me that the day had been extremely hectic and had gone by very fast. Even though nothing had been accomplished, I was, nonetheless, thoroughly exhausted. So in all honesty I answered, “I had a very busy day, but don’t ask me what I did.”