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A Trade Show Story, Part II

Oct 9, 2007
I've been told, by people who are supposed to know,that if you want to get ahead in business you must get up early, and be the first one on the job.

As a first-time industry trade show initiate, I had wanted to make the best impression I could. But, after a disastrous evening wearing Marinara Sauce on my blouse for the Welcome Reception dinner, I felt my chances were slim. So, I gracefully excused myself and began the mile-long walk down the hall to my room. I dutifully placed a wake-up call for 5 a.m., and crashed into bed.

The next day I was at the trade show by 8 a.m., ready to go. I was loaded up like a pack mule with business cards, brochures and other give-away literature -- all of it telling how wonderful I am. But, no one was there except some janitorial staff. Didn't these people work?

"So much for being the first one on the job," I groused to myself. "It doesn't look like I'll score any points, if no one is around to see how sharp I am."

My stomach began demanding attention again, so I decided to waste an hour or so in a coffee shop. There had to be food somewhere. After walking for what seemed like a half an hour, I found a cute little place that served coffee, Danish and breakfast. My budget was so battered from the taxi rides that I told my stomach a Danish and coffee would be enough. After looking me up and down, a very high-toned woman said I couldn't have a table, unless I was ordering a full meal.

So, I logically ask her, "Where am I supposed to have coffee and a Danish?" Did they expect me to stand out in the hall?

She gave me an odd look and begrudgingly said I could sit at the bar.

"Oh, great!" I thought to myself. "So much for first impressions! What if someone important sees me hunched over the bar at 8:30 in the morning?" Visions of loser drunks, having booze for breakfast, swim before my eyes. My stomach says, "Pam, shut up and sit at the bar!" I smiled sweetly at the snob and said, "Thank you. I'll do that."

After an hour, I wandered back to the trade show area. It was huge! The program said there were 1500 booths. Well, I felt so cool: I had planned ahead and mapped all the companies I wanted to meet. The lobby was filled with people, all milling about. They all looked like they knew what they were doing. I was just winging it, hoping I'd learn as I went along. At 10 a.m., they let us into the show. I was staggered by the enormity of it all. Somewhere in here was going to be a client who needed my services.

The day flew by. I met people, took notes, smiled a lot, wrote down names, picked up literature and hoped I'd remember everything when I got home. Oh, but my feet did hurt.

After perusing the place, I noticed there were some food stands that'd make the mall eateries look positively five-star. I choked down something awful for lunch and wondered if I were eating dried beetles from the Sahara desert.

At last, the day was over. I staggered to the taxi station for my classy $20 ride back to my hotel. I was worn to a frazzle. I unlocked my room and finally took off the horrible shoes. I was too tired to move.
But, my ever-demanding stomach was whining like a neglected puppy. OK. I picked up the phone and ordered room service. I ordered a steak and baked potato with everything; salad with blue cheese dressing. I felt like a terrible spendthrift, but didn't care. I took a shower and slipped into something more comfortable. I decided I might as well enjoy the Las Vegas experience and to hell with the budget.

The steak arrived, and I tipped the waiter. The steak was humongous! It was enough for three meals at home. Sure enough, I could only eat a fraction of the side of beef in front of me. I winced at the idea of wasting all that good food (not to mention the money!) My mother always said "Waste not want not." I could hear her voice as I considered this problem.

Hmmmm. I'll do it.

I found a plastic bag, slipped the meat and potato inside, secured it on top of the air conditioner, and covered it with a towel. "Why not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I'm going home tomorrow, the luggage compartment on the plane will be cold, only an hour in the car and I'll be back in my little house. Who's to know?"

I carefully set the empty tray outside the door so the maid wouldn't find my food on the air conditioner.

The next day was more of the same, and then it was time to go home to Oregon. Time to leave the glitzy lights, the incessant noise, the wild-eyed gamblers, and the taxi drivers with their hands out.

I carefully packed the food in my baggage, and finally, was sitting on the plane. My daughter picked me up, hoping for exciting stories of the fabled Las Vegas. All I said to her was, "We have to hurry, so I can get the steak in the frig."

I wonder why she looked at me that way. What did I say?

Yes, I suffered mightily in Las Vegas. I put my foot in my mouth. My feet hurt like heck, and I'd been embarrassed and humiliated. I was confused, scared, and my back hurt, and I spent sooo much money!

I just booked my reservations for the trade show in Las Vegas next year. Go figure.
About the Author
Pam Magnuson is a freelance copywriter with a wide spectrum of experience in Radio, TV and newspaper advertising. She specializes in the Dietary Supplement industry. http://www.pammagnusoncopywriting.com
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