Conventioneers

While putting some plans together for the next year my mind drifted back to the start of it all. There was a time when I was truly earning the right to call myself Everywhere Man. The technology boom had not busted and companies were flush with dollars to spend on Y2K protection. It was the year that I went to 52 tradeshows and conferences in one year. It was a stretch for certain. Because there is a seasonality to event calendars I had Christmas and a few weeks in June where I didn’t travel, but there would be a times with double shows, or three things over eight days.

At one point during that year I would awake not knowing where I was or find myself digging in the briefcase looking for something that wasn’t there, like another plane ticket.

It was also at this time when I would meet some of the most interesting people. It was during this time that my body built an immunity to every strain of anything one could imagine.

There is one ritual I never got over, but found very interesting. I always refer to it as “the annual relationship.” If you’ve had the pleasure to see “Same Time Next Year” by Neal Simon, it is the same concept. Each year there is a must attend event that the company always sends people to. During that first time you meet this great person who fits perfectly to your every desire and need. After a few drinks, some conversation that is so honest you surprise yourself by telling this stranger the full details. Next you find yourself together in a hotel room or running back to your room first thing in the morning to make it back to the exhibit.

The next year when you volunteer for booth duty on that event there is a strange hope that you will see them again. By some chance, or design, or destiny, you do. Each year you return to refill, recharge, or refresh your senses with the one person “who gets you.”

Sadly, the few people I’ve know to follow this pattern were married with children the first year and devoiced by the third.

Maybe it was a different time, or there comes a point in your life when you realize that you got married too early. Is there really a seductive force in Las Vegas that is irresistible? I’ve grown immune to that as well. It may well have been the very sexy nature of COMDEX or a dozen other shows each year where you can get lost in the masses and find yourself in an altered state.