I am home again after a successful launch of Mine to Avenge in Adelaide yesterday. However, the launch almost didn’t happen, due to a monumental blunder by the council responsible for hiring out the venue. I made my booking back in September, and at the time, the council rep said that she would return a call to confirm that the hall was available.
A few days later, the council confirmed availability, charging me a very minimal AU$60 to hire the hall between 9am and 1pm (incorporating set up and pack up time) and also charging a refundable $500 deposit.
When I arrived at the hall a little before 9am yesterday morning, alarm bells rang immediately when I noticed another car in the car park, with a logo on the door, advertising a local fitness organisation, specialising in Zumba classes. This was not someone I had invited, and I immediately guessed that the hall had been double booked.
I got out of the car and the woman in the other car got out of hers, and we compared notes - and yes, we were both booked for the same time. She has a regular, permanent booking on Saturday mornings between 9.30am and 10.30am. She was furious when I explained that my booking overlapped hers as I had booked and paid (and had a receipt) for 9.00am - 1.00pm. Apparently she had also been double booked earlier in the week as well, so I could understand her anger.
This woman insisted she wasn’t moving and intended conducting her class as usual. However, my helpers and caterers were beginning to arrive, and some people were travelling from up to three hours away. I was also firmly standing my ground. I had flown a good distance for my book launch and I was determined that it was going to go ahead, but time was passing and I was losing essential set up time.
So a friend got on the phone immediately, to try to contact the council, but being a Saturday morning, that was impossible. She then began trying to contact other halls in the vicinity to see if we could find another venue for either one of us, but to no avail. I began to get desperate, and felt myself weakening, ready to give in to the other woman, thinking that I might have to set everything up outside on the grass. Fortunately the weather was fine.
Then a thought came to me - a perfect compromise I thought, if the other woman would agree to it. She had said that her class finished at 10.30, which was when my guests were expected to start arriving, but I needed to be in the hall setting up during the 9.30 - 10.30 timeframe of her class. I asked her how many people she had in her group. She said there were about 10 at the most. I then asked if her class used the entire hall or just part of it. She replied that there was plenty of space near the kitchen and around the perimeter. I asked her if she would be willing to let us set up our tables of books and food around her while her class was in progress in the middle, and whether she would be willing to finish 5 minutes earlier to give me time to put the tables in their proper position before my guests arrived.
She readily agreed and all I needed to do was to post a sentry to keep my early guests outside, while the Zumba class was in process.
So my helpers and caterers set everything up to the beat and rhythm of Zumba in the middle of the room. Everyone was smiling and bopping along in time to the music as we set up, and a good time was had by all. However, I wouldn’t want to be the person on the council reception desk tomorrow morning when weekday business resumes as there are going to be two phone calls from two very irate hall hirers!