I hate to start a review with a negative, but when you read “lunch will feature delicious BBQ goodness,” how many of you interpret that to mean “crumbly vegan ‘sausages’ that were cooked on a barbecue grill?” Anyone? Anyone? I don’t know about you, but when someone advertises “BBQ goodness” in an event description, I’m expecting meat.
First, the good. It was free, there was power at every table, and there was a good selection of tutorials for various experience levels, with people on hand to help debug software and hardware issues. And it wasn’t just everyone looking to the event mentors. There was a good community feel where we helped each other. They also used a number of publicly available materials, like Google’s Android beginner tutorials, helping put participants on a path they could continue along after the event.
Then, the bad. They were disorganized… check-in started late (though they let us in on arrival and let us check in later), and lunch started nearly two hours late. They set expectations like “delicious BBQ goodness” that weren’t met. And because the cooking of vegan “sausages” on the grill on the patio created an unpleasant smell, they had to close the doors to the patio, restricting air flow in the 415 Westlake event room with no air conditioning on a day that was in the 80s. Although it started off fun and I finished my first exercise with a sense of accomplishment, I was gradually feeling tired, hungry, back-achey (from the cheap folding chairs), and hot.
I am on a restrictive diet that’s a variant of the Whole 30. It’s great for managing my blood sugar through diet and a few pills instead of sticking injection needles in my stomach.
Realizing that the “BBQ goodness” might not meet my dietary restrictions, I emailed the Seattle Code Rush organizers through the contact form on the web site the evening before. I said I’d be happy to order a lettuce wrap from the Jimmy John’s a block away if they couldn’t accommodate me. Just let me know. No one responded.
The “sausages” looked a little iffy, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and took one. The sides included some grilled onions and peppers, a potato salad I assume was vegan, and some spring mix with chopped carrots. I took a “sausage,” some grilled onions, and some of the spring mix. I then sat down, took a bite of the “sausage,” and then had to spit it out. I went and asked them if the sausages were vegetarian. They said they were all vegan. I said they should warn people (a bit angrily), because some people can’t eat the ingredients in vegan meat substitutes.
I ate some more of the spring mix with carrots, and my grilled onions, then packed up and left to get myself some lunch, not returning. I don’t care how good their intentions were. I wasn’t hanging out for another 4 hours with three sources of physical discomfort (hunger, heat, and seating) to do exercises I could do at home in comfort.
So, bad seats, bad climate control, and setting WRONG expectations about the food took what was an otherwise great event and turned it into something I felt I needed to leave early because I was getting physical discomfort from three different sources.
I appreciate the effort from the IDEAA folks behind this event, I hope they’ll do this again, and I hope they can learn a few lessons from this one.