First, we set the way-back machine five years in Atlanta. I am usually one of the first people to set up the tradeshow booth on the floor. In case there are any surprises, I’ll have time to take care of them before the show starts.
The usual suspects start to set up as I am finishing. A handful of direct competitors and smaller companies in our space begin the process. I know most of them and get along with them all. Many have taken my original and unique ideas adopting them for themselves (bastards!) But for the most part, good people we compete with.
There is this chatty sales lady at this one booth that is not helping to set up, but standing as the rest do all the work. She is useless. When she sees my booth, she says a few smart ass things to me and tries to get her team to join in. I smile and walk away.
I wouldn’t have thought much of it, but every time I see this lady during the event, she has some nasty thing to say about my company to me. It’s is starting to loose its humor – fast.
So at the end of day three, after being on my feet for about nine hours straight, I begin to take the booth down. It’s a forty-five minute job on my own. Most people hire this job out, but I take a certain pride in know every bit of the property. The problem, while the booth is all taken apart, the union guys have not delivered any of my shipping cases from storage. If you set up first, your cases go in the storage truck first, and are the last cases to be returned.
So finally, I get the cases, pack it up, and send it out. This whole time, the annoying lady has been sitting at her booth watching everyone else. I figure she has a professional on the way. But as I am walking out the door, she stops me with puppy dog eyes and says “P2 – they left me here with the booth, but I don’t know what to do. Will you help me?” I pause a moment, and say “Sure. No Problem.”
We get to her booth, and while different then mine, I am very familiar with the brand and how to dismantle it. And since I am such a pro, I do the opposite of what you are supposed to do. Graphics, “roll this way so you don’t bend them,” so I roll them the wrong way. Those permanently fixed plastic pieces that you need to be super careful with, I just snap them off. Finally – to top it all off, I fill out the shipping forms. Rather then send them to New Jersey like they are supposed to be, I re-route them to New Mexico under the wrong name.
She is so grateful for my help, so happy to have her knight in shining armor come and take down the booth while she has watched me, that she hugs me and sings my praises. In fact she says “My daughter and her friend are going to be at that event in Toronto in two weeks. While my daughter isn’t single, her friend is, and she is a real looker. I’ll put in a good word for you.” Joyfully she skips away to her room not having had to do a thing for the whole event. I, however, inflicted at least $3000 worth of damage on a competitor’s booth and sent it to a place they won’t find in time for that Toronto event.
Two weeks later I am in Toronto standing at my booth before the start of a very long show going over the game plan with the team. Two very attractive booth babes come up to the booth and ask for me by name. Oh – the sales guys think I am the king of the road with a girl in every port. With a big smile the one girl says “Um Hi, I am” the woman’s “daughter. She knows what you did – and you’re a fucking asshole.” I smile and nod my head looking at her friend and say “Hi, I’m P2, you must have heard some good things about me.”
The booth babes were not all that mad at me after I made light of the situation. I explained, as best I could, what had happened and the daughter said “actually, that sounds just like my mom.” Whenever the daughter and I see each other on the circuit to this day I make a point to say hi. Her mom no longer works there, which is for the best, she never worked that hard.
Next story… “Wow! You have a mean streak P2!”