Expo yourself

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Each year about this time, I get that special tingle, followed by an irresistible impulse. Soon I'm dancing madly around the house, racing from room to room, jumping and gyrating on pieces of furniture while shouting, “It's long-term care conference time! It's long-term care conference time!”

Please note that this is a healthy, joyful celebration performed with restraint and good taste. I am absolutely not professing my pretend passion for Katie Holmes or “twerking.”

Because, really, what's not to love about these annual gatherings? Thousands of industry leaders, staff and vendors envelop an unsuspecting city in a deluge of flapping name tags and commemorative tote bags. It's like Mardi Gras, but with different costumes and fewer beads (usually).

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) starts things off in Phoenix on Oct. 6-9, and Leading Age follows in Dallas, Oct. 27-30. My love for first-degree scalp-burn and melted shoes has won out over my affection for Walker: Texas Ranger, so I'll be only in Phoenix. It was a hard decision, especially since I'm told Larry Minnix and Chuck Norris could be trading round-house kicks at the opening general session.

I've attended a lot of these things, and pre-planning is key. So here are a few notes-to-self in preparation for my triumphant arrival at this year's AHCA convention and expo. Your own list may vary:

1. Practice walking briskly through a crowded space while carrying coffee, cell phone, tote bag, laptop, conference program and complimentary box lunch. Without tripping over your name-tag neck lanyard.

2. Practice balancing on a barstool.

3. Ask keynote speaker Dr. Benjamin Carson to sign my copies of “Gifted Hands,” in both book and DVD form. Avoid asking his thoughts about marriage.

4. Consider whether the long-term care funding problem could be offset with the reallocation of vendor money currently spent on trade show booth trinkets.

5. Decide how hard to slap the first person I hear saying, “tipping point,” “challenges and opportunities,”  “paradigm” or “Obamacare train wreck.”

6. Learn not to be intimidated by groups of men in dark suits and expensive eyewear conspiring in every seating area.

7. Rehearse dismissive eye-rolls for whenever perky 20-somethings say, “Who's Foreigner?” Don't respond by asking if they want to know what love is, as that would be creepy.

8. Remember to turn cell phone ring tone to maximum volume just before each General Session.

9. Fill pockets with enough throat lozenges and Xanax to last for two days of wandering the trade show floor plaintively asking, “Don't you know who I am?”

I sincerely hope this helps your own preparation for this important and exciting event, and I look forward to seeing each of you in Phoenix. And if you see me on exhibit hall floor, or anywhere else, I'll try to explain who I am and sign your tote bag.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.