Saturday, May 1, 2010

And then there's....

... Princeton. (I'll bet you thought I was going to say "Maude!")

The big, full-day Princeton tour for the garden club ladies is coming up in the next couple of weeks. And I'm not nearly as prepared as I would like to be.

What does this look like? Garden club people from around the country will be descending on New Brunswick, and Mimi and crew have been hired to help run bus tours of P'ton and local gardens on the last day of the conference. Total attendance will be around 600 people -- 12 buses in all. What a megillah. And what a nice opportunity to get more experience and perspective.

Sat down a few weeks ago with Mimi and my bus partner for the tour. The partner is a woman who's an officer of the local garden club and a major planner for the gathering the tour will be part of. She's a lovely person and also has the benefit of having been a docent at a few museums, so she knows her way around a tour and has realistic expectations. At the same time, she's going to be extremely busy during the weeks before the conference, with little time to prep for the tour, so she asked if I'd be willing to take the lead that day. No problem. Just let me know what route we're taking. Otherwise, these people are going to be hearing a ton about the Rutgers/Princeton rivalry, and not much else.

She sent me several pages of her thoughts about the front end of the tour, and Mimi provided some additional speaking points, but I'm still not entirely clear on the mid section. We're filling eight hours here -- probably about 90 minutes for lunch, and then some stops at private gardens -- but other than that, I don't have an agenda or anything. Logic tells me that we're really only filling the start and end parts with patter, and then the gardens will be the bulk of the day (and not my responsibility to narrate), but I've gotten no confirmation on that.

This is where the insecure kid part of me comes in. For a fair chunk of my life, my flash assumption when I don't understand something is that it's probably because I missed something. More often than not, it turns out that the other person didn't provide enough explanation or wasn't clear enough (and often others are as confused as I am), but still, the self-doubt makes me hesitate to ask too many questions. I guess I also don't like looking stupid. In this case, I don't want to have that supposed stupidness or lack of preparation reflect on Mimi, either.

I drove down on Wednesday to check out the areas I know will be on the tour, plus a bit of the campus I hadn't visited in a while. All's pretty much good there, though it seems a bit ambitious to cover as much of it as my partner seems to want to. Nonetheless, it's all workable. I just need to know what ELSE we need to cover. I've got to study! I figure if I don't have at least some answers by Monday, I've got to get really aggressive about finding out.

Somewhat relieved yesterday to get an e-mail from my tour partner, asking if I can join her, Mimi and another garden club person Wednesday to discuss. Phew! Just in time to get my questions answered, information gathered and part secured. Then all I have to do is memorize.

This is gonna be interesting.

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