I’m staring at a map of North Hall, but I might as well be looking at nothing, or ancient hieroglyphics. The You Are Here indicator is big and red, but I can’t quite make out where I am—my sense of direction is nonexistent. I push through a group of snarling industry heads and pass a rainbow wall of iPhone cases. It’s the fourth time I’ve walked past the same booth in the last hour.

I can’t call the rest of my crew and say I’m lost, because this is my first big event and I would just look dumb and hopeless. I contemplate it for a minute before I relock my phone and put it in my pocket, look around, and make a beeline for something that maybe looks familiar in the distance.

Crowds skid past and people wallop and hoot and greet enthusiastically. There are lights, thick air and carpet that’s surprisingly easy to trip over if you’re not careful. It all looks planned and beautiful, but it’s not.

An exhibitor jumps in my face and tries to hook me in. I resist, smile, and move into the flow of traffic. This more or less happens constantly. Someone for the hundredth time bumps me—hard—and doesn’t say a word. I hear a man laugh maniacally somewhere behind me (at me?).

My bag is cutting into my shoulders, and my back is sooooore—really sore. I make a left, another left, and all I see is color and signage and pieces of plastic and rubber. Somewhere a DJ is blasting music I don’t know—off in the distance I hear more music upon music, upon music. It’s a relentless bombardment, both aurally and visually—I feel battered, exhausted. I’ve been up since 5 a.m. for the second day in a row.

The man inspects my press badge, and I look into his sad, lonely eyes. I feign an apology, and snap a picture anyway before ducking out into a raging rapid of credentials and hissing conversation.Behind a glass display a bedazzled iPhone case swirls, and it’s like I’m peering into an endless loop of late-night QVC. It’s tortuous. I try and snap a picture of accessories laid out on a table, but I’m told—with a simple, but stern hand gesture—that photography of a certain Hello Kitty iPhone case is not permitted.

CES is a mind-numbing moshpit of people and things and noise—or at least the spots I looked. I ventured out into the North Hall in the hopes of finding something unique and cool, but everything was just flashy and hollow—one big, glorified swap meet.

I’ll never hear of or see most of these companies again. There were certainly some worth walking past and nodding to, as if to say, “I like your stuff.” But otherwise there were hundreds of cases and accessories that, when looked at closely, make you want to ditch your phone forever. And ever.

Until finally you pick it up to call someone from the Herd for directions back to TechnoBuffalo’s workroom. And do it all again the next day.