Wrap a muffin from breakfast in a napkin, tuck it into your blazer pocket, and carry it around your house for the rest of the day.

Spend the entirety of the opening speaker’s presentation researching restaurants you may have tried if the conference had been held in its originally scheduled location (usually Orlando for some reason?). On the evaluation form, write “this keynote was IMPOSSIBLE to follow” and give the speaker ridiculously low scores on the rating portion.

During the ten-minute break between sessions, line up your children's stuffed animals in a giant single-file line leading directly to the bathroom and mutter inane comments to the Bubble Guppy in front of you like, “Looks like we’re gonna be here a while.”

Ignore the next panel after your bathroom break. Instead, mentally rewrite the jokes you should have told to the stuffed animal in line ahead of you.

Between panel sessions, set up a quick FaceTime between you in your home office and your children in the living room. When they begin fighting and your spouse asks you for help, fake a poor connection and hang up.

Most evenings, watch Property Brothers in bed while eating crushed muffin crumbs out of your blazer pocket and trying to convince yourself that you’ll eventually go to the “Virtual Networking Lounge.”

One night, have your spouse role-play a witty marketing director from a hip competitor. Get blind drunk, engage in unsatisfying conference sex, and when it’s over, whisper, “What happens in Orlando stays in Orlando.”

Although you have no expenses to reimburse, prepare a bunch of nonsense paperwork for Rick from HR anyway—he loves that shit. Somehow you will still complete the made-up forms wrong, and Rick will ask you to redo them with the correct budget codes.

Wear compression socks underneath your pajama pants.

Position yourself approximately 12 city blocks from your house and wait until just before the next session is about to begin before frantically speed walking back to your home office to simulate the experience of having to haul ass from one end of a convention center to the other in seven minutes.

Leave wet towels on your bathroom floor to indicate to the service staff, i.e. your spouse, that you want the towels washed and replaced.

Skip a post-lunch session to do the “tour of Orlando” workout that came with the passive-aggressive exercise bike your mother-in-law gave you a month after you gave birth. Ten minutes into your tour, abandon both Orlando and your off-brand Peloton and instead grab a drink at the cool rooftop bar you discovered. Ignore your spouse’s concerned questions about why you’re on the roof in bike shorts drinking Rumple Minze at one in the afternoon.

Purposely ask Rick from HR to call you during the middle of a breakout Zoom networking event. Cut Rick off as soon as he starts asking about the “urgent matter” and bark, “Jesus Christ, Rick. Do I have to explain everything to you? Look, I don't care how you fix it, but you better damn well have it fixed by the time I'm done with this conference,” and hang up the phone. Look directly at the camera, apologize, and say, “Ugh. It’s soo hard to find a capable assistant these days.”

(Note: You can have your spouse call, but it’s much more satisfying/badass to scream at Rick in front of strangers. Plus, you can always blame the stress of these “uncertain times” for your outburst.)

Hijack the Q&A portion of a presentation to ask a rapid-fire series of questions that are nothing more than blatant attempts to brag about your own recent accomplishments (i.e. “Your presentation touched on a lot of the same ideas I wrote about in my recent white paper, ‘Leaders Lead on Fridays, Too!' the most downloaded white paper on the subject in 2019. Did my white paper influence your presentation in any way?”).

After all of your poorly concealed humblebrags are ignored, go to the Dark Web to get dirt on the speaker and send an anonymous email to their consulting firm that includes the career-ending info your search uncovered.

When the last conference panel is over, drive to your nearest airport to observe your post-conference travel tradition of shame-eating a fast-food burrito, some sugar-coated soft pretzels, and a jumbo Toblerone. Don’t forget to buy your spouse and kids the thoughtful souvenirs they’ve come to expect from every trip: a paperback bestseller, a bag of trail mix, and a neck pillow.


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