From ACS New Orleans

Hey there, from New Orleans! ACS 2008 kicked off today with the early morning registration rush that is required for every ACS meeting. This one, however, was awesomely bad, as the organizers, displaying true ig-nobel prize worthy genius, nearly caused an uprising from the mob of chemists waiting for their ID-cards.

So here’s what happened. Around 8 in the morning, chemists of all sorts spilled into the registration hall at the convention center in the French quarter of New Orleans. To register for the conference, each person had to first enter their information into the onsite computers, pay a fee, and then go collect the printed out ID cards. The first part of this procedure went fine, and it took only minutes for myself, Mitch, and Noel to pay the registration fee and get in line for the ID card. However, the wait for picking up the admission badge is where everything went haywire.

Instead of intelligently placing the printers next to the ID card readers so that new registrees could grab their papers and assemble their own ID’s, the organizers decided to have 3 printing stations where the ACS hosts would carefully complete the complicated task of folding the papers in half, inserting them into a plastic holder, and lacing an ACS lanyard through the tag.

One particularly loud lady, the “supervisor” – we were told so by other employees who refused to accept responsibility of the brewing crisis- especially endeared herself to the crowd. After waiting 20 minutes or more to reach the front of said printing line, the self-proclaimed “lady in red” was…well, let me paint the picture for you.

Imagine yourself, after waiting for what has felt like hours of standing in a much too long line, checking your watch every few minutes because your chance to hear about element 108 and the plans to make 120 is literally ticking away. Finally you begin to reach the front of the line: you can hear names being called and briefly think about how nice it would be to get your tag. But wait…something is wrong. You hear people’s names called, followed by groans, moans and subdued protests. Thats not right…you think to yourself. Then you hear the words that make you hope…no pray, that this little “lady in red” does not call your name.

“John Blahblah!”

“Yeah, here!”

“Sir, Back of the line please!”


“Sir, Back Of The Line.”

And there it is. The bottle-neck in the registration process that eventually led to this:

Mitch Crowd Managing

was caused by the assumption that chemists can’t make their own nametags. Yes, the above picture is Mitch becoming an honorary ACS crowd manager as he hands out the plastic ID card holders to near-unruly chemists. Although, I probably didn’t help the situation by loudly telling people not to budge if told to move to the back of the line. What can I say…I am just a rebel.

So Kudos to the ACS event organizers. The first few hours of the first day of the conference was a complete hash, a prime example of how NOT to manage a huge national conference’s registration. For all those unfortunate chemists who missed the morning talks, or decided to forgo the idiotic ID to actually attend those talks, or were just generally upset by the morning’s administrative malfunctions, I hope you comment on this post. Or just comment if you find it funny. Or if you want to make fun of me. Whatever.



  1. That angry mob was about to rip open that confused supervisor. I was able to clear most of the angry mob within 15 minutes, the lines were still ridiculously long, but at least the probability of riot was diminished.


  2. Why did everybody not pre-register over the internet? I have had my badge for over a month now.

    I would have thought the guy with 50,000 Chemistry websites would have figured out how to register online…! heh

  3. They don’t always arrive in the mail. 😉

  4. I agree with Maz’s comment about the ineffectiveness of the registration process. However, he could have avoided all this by registering during the pre-registration process on the ACS Web site. Good planning and thinking ahead is the key: I received my badge in the mail many weeks before the ACS New Orleans 2008 National Meeting – unfortunately without the “lady in red” inserting it into a plastic holder, and lacing an ACS lanyard through the tag.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *