I’m no stranger to conferences. And do you know what else is no stranger to conferences? Alcohol. As a young woman in tech (and an introvert), I like to have that social aspect that alcohol helps to facilitate. Ask anyone and they will tell you the real value of conferences comes outside of the sessions during the networking times. You can have real conversations and alcohol does help to lighten the mood and loosen the tongue – liquid courage for introverted me trying to seem smart and meet new people.
It also loosens the tongue in other ways, unfortunately. In this particular instance I was walking (skipping actually) back from a conference party to the hotel bar at the top of the hotel penthouse. An acquaintance of a few years who I had been hanging out with at the party grabbed my hand and off we skipped together across the road. I thought it was all in slightly tipsy fun. Then we got into the elevator to go to the hotel bar to meet everyone else from the conference who departed a few minutes before or after us.
In the elevator, he cornered me and tried to start kissing me. The thoughts in my head were racing – yes, he was cute, but he is married, I think? Had I been too flirty by holding hands and skipping? Maybe we should have waited until others were in the elevator. I don’t want this. STOP!
I turned my head and said “Stop!” He didn’t. He just came at me again pinning me against the elevator wall. I physically shoved him away, twice until at last we were at the top. As I exited the elevator he followed me and I told him to get away from me. I found some other friends and acted like nothing had happened. I see him at most of the conferences I still attend and feel like I did something wrong. Like I need to clear the air, but why should I have to? And unfortunately, that story is not an isolated event. In fact, something else happened with someone else at the same bar the next evening where I got cornered near a bathroom.
Simple solution you say – stop going to the bar or conferences? Why should I have to do that? I’m wearing my cape next time.