Illustration by Malika Favre
“Sleeping with your Partner: They Wanted Beds, Beds They Got, an Exclusive Eyewitness Account of the Steamiest Conference Session Ever” originally ran in 1992 in an issue of AIGA’s The Journal, dedicated to the then-recent AIGA “Love, Money & Power” conference (vol. 9, no. 4). It’s part of a series in which we seek out and republish the best yet-to-be-digitized articles from our vast print archives.

I work with the Chicago Hilton Inn Towers. For the last six years my job has been working with the convention department to make sure chairs and tables get delivered to the right meetings. A couple of years ago we had some scientists who shipped a bunch of rats. They brought these rat cages and a maze that our general manager was worried about. We built them a safety system using banquet tables and bed sheets. This is the kind of stuff we do in the convention department.

AIGA was different than the scientists. They asked for beds. I wanted to know what the heck a group of artistic people needed beds for in a meeting room but my partner Frank and I figured it was our place to get the job done not speculate about these creative types.

We got three beds from housekeeping and made our way to the freight elevator. On the way down Frank pointed out that there was a priest behind one of the beds. Frank was right. I guess we wheeled the beds in so quickly that this fella didn’t have time to get out of the way. I asked the father if he needed help finding a room or the guest elevator. He told us he was with the graphic design conference and we said we were going there too and that we’d let him off on the third floor. (Later Frank found a name tag that said Massimo on one of the beds and we turned the tag into lost and found thinking it was the name of his church or parish.)

In reading the work order we saw that the beds had to be made up with mints and the hotel’s goodnight cards. This was hard because we aren’t allowed in the housekeeping supplies area. Fortunately Frank had dated a girl named Miranda who still worked up there. He was gone for a long time but he finally came back with a whole box of mints, not to mention shampoo, shower caps, sewing kits, wooden hangers, and some pocket bottles of mouthwash.

I zipped the beds up and then got Barbara Phillips to sign off on our delivery. She seemed busy so we didn’t press her on why they wanted beds. Barbara’s worked here for 20 years and it’s my guess she’s seen nearly everything so things like this don’t bother her anymore. Not many people know there’s a storage area behind the entire wing of meeting rooms. We listened into the session with the beds and it turned out to be about people who are married and work together. They all sat on the beds because the session was called, “Sleeping with your Partner.” The audience sat in the regular red-colored chairs and asked questions. Frank wrote down the good parts.

  1. Several couples who now work together met while working together or through being clients or freelancers.
  2. Most of them feel it’s an asset to work together.
  3. One of the benefits is with money (Frank knows about taxes and showed me how this works but it would take too long to explain here).
  4. Couples who work together like to travel together.
  5. Several of them seem to divide the work between creative and noncreative jobs where the husband might do the easy creative work and the wife gets the hard complicated work.
  6. One of the guys who was supposed to talk didn’t show up and Frank kept muttering that he’d gladly fill in as the lady’s partner.
  7. Some employees of the couple showed up and were embarrassed when they were asked to talk about the difficulty of working with married partners. We guessed there was a real problem here because everyone avoided the subject.
  8. Some guy said he felt employees always “went to the one with the penis,” and this started a lot of trouble, which quickly turned into a discussion about sexism and jealousy.

All in all it was interesting and Frank and I decided they were all right despite the work to get the beds. Later we saw one of the conference directors. Frank showed him how to work his rented portable radio while I asked him about the beds. He said they were really necessary and I told them it was okay because we got some good advice. He works for a company called Pintogram and said he’d send us a newsletter so we could get some more information. This is good because Frank’s neighbor drives a Pinto and is always having trouble with it.

CJ Williams is a figment of Forest Richardson’s fertile mind. Richardson is married to his partner the lovely Valerie Richardson of Forrest Richardson & Associates Phoenix.
Illustration by Malika Favre