AS I READ THROUGH THIS ISSUE of Insurance Conference Planner — which still needs a good puzzle page, by the way — I was struck by the article on family-friendly incentives. What a great deal this is for kids! It made me jealous because there was nothing like this available when I was a kid. First of all, my father was not in the insurance industry, he was a milkman, and milkmen didn't get to go on a lot of incentive programs. In fact, the only company outing we ever attended was the annual milkman's picnic to which the whole family was invited.

The milkman's picnic was always held on the hottest and most humid day of August at a park that featured mosquitoes the size of your head. Upon arriving at the park, the families immediately split up into their pre-assigned groups. The men all played softball and drank beer, the women gathered in the shade and exchanged Jell-O recipes, and the kids went down to the pond for chigger bites or off to the woods for their annual encounter with poison ivy. Around suppertime, everyone would gather together for a nutritious repast of hot dogs, potato salad that had been sitting in the sun, and milk.

Our family vacation trip came earlier in the summer, and it had its own incentive for us kids: not getting whacked in the back seat of the car as Dad drove to our destination. All vacation trips were taken by car when I was a kid, and the seating arrangement was always the same: Dad drove, mom rode shotgun, and the kids always crammed into the backseat, and that's where the trouble began. First of all, nobody wanted to sit on the hump caused by the drive shaft — and everybody wanted a window seat. I was lucky because I always got carsick so I had my window seat pre-reserved.

We would leave for our vacation at 4 a.m. so that we could “get on the road and make some time.” I never understood this logic because I figured the roads would still be there at noon, as would the concept of time. If I brought up this reasoning to my dad, I would be greeted by his right hand, which would leave the steering wheel long enough to make a sweeping sortie into the backseat.

Mom's job on the trip was to try and keep us busy with games like “Count The Cows” and “Name That Road Kill” but we spent most of the time asking questions like “Are we there yet?” or “Why couldn't you get a job in the insurance business so we could go on an incentive trip?”

Eventually we would reach our destination, which was either a national park or a distant relative's house. The parks offered more to see but Aunt Gladys' house had cleaner washrooms. After a week or so, we would all pile back into the car and head for home under the cover of darkness when really good time could be made.

With today's incentive travel destinations, kids get pumped up about their parent's success and want to follow their career path. I used to get pumped up with Dramamine and the desire to not be a milkman.

Dale Irvin brings the last laugh to meetings with his unique recap of each day's events. for such organizations as the Million Dollar Round Table, Thrivent Financial, Penn Mutual, and Allstate. For a good time, visit For booking, call Ruth Levine at Speak Inc., (858) 457-9880.