Last week, I had the privilege of attending USAC’s annual service provider training session in Tampa with a couple of my colleagues.  Florida was beautiful, as one would expect, although I found Lori’s insistence that we experienced “low humidity” during our visit deeply troubling.  Let’s hope that USAC does not schedule a Florida training during a “high humidity” season!  At any rate, here are a few highlights from the trip:

  • First things first, I didn’t see a single alligator during my entire stay.  I wasn’t greeted by one at the airport, no gators crawled up through the toilet in my hotel room, and I didn’t even see any of Florida’s famed free-range gator gangs roaming the streets at night.  It was all rather disappointing, really.  Perhaps they were waiting for the humidity to return.
  • A certain member of our party (who shall remain nameless) committed an egregious breach of conference etiquette by filling a plate with breakfast food intended for visitors to a different conference that was being held in an adjacent ballroom.  A word to the wise:  those velvet ropes are there to KEEP YOU IN YOUR PLACE.  Go crossing over, and you’re likely to receive a remarkably stern rebuke from the HMP*.
  • The packet of materials we received for the training included a number of fictitious scenarios used to set up small group discussions about various aspects of program rules and regulations.  One of the scenarios for the invoicing portion of the presentation included a delightfully subtle reference to the early ‘90s sitcom Wings.  Remember Wings?  I’ll admit it – until last week, I had completely and totally removed Wings from my pop culture lexicon.  I wonder if it’s on Netflix…

On the serious, the USAC staff did a great job keeping the training sessions professional and engaging.  The scenarios introduced some lively discussion, and there were some very good questions and answers posed to USAC staff.  Outreach to service providers is an important aspect of overall E-rate program compliance, and I am thankful that USAC continues to conduct in-person training sessions in addition to the monthly service provider conference calls.  As for Florida… stay “not” humid, Florida.  Perhaps you and me and the gators can kick back and watch Wings on our next trip.

*Hyatt Muffin Patrol