“Hey Robyn, we need people to work at the show next weekend. You’ll get a day off in lieu. Are you interested?”
“OK, sure. Sounds like fun!”
Yeah, it sounded like a fun thing to do. There was an trade show exhibiting things that men are supposed to be into. Cars, stereos and other things that do things. The company I work for had a stand with its new thing that does stuff and needed people to make it seem REALLY EXCITING. So I volunteered.
The first sign that things were about to go horribly wrong was the t-shirts. Some had been printed up for the show, unfortunately they were fitted mens t-shirts and were very very snug-fitting. I tried on an XL-sized one and was shocked and terrified by what I saw. It fit, it just fit too well. The phrase “ample-bosomed” came to mind.
The alternative was a black XXL-sized Beefy-T, which I was instructed to wear with black jeans. It looked like a metaller maternity wear. All that was needed was “Metallica… and justice for all” to be printed on the back of the t-shirt. I would have probably looked more glamourous in a pink muu-muu.
I arrived at the show and discovered the following. Because I was female, it was deemed that I knew nothing about anything even vaguely technical and therefore would be spending the day handing out bags with a trial CD in them.
So I stood there with a bundle of bags, looking like a metaller chick saying “Would you like a bag?” to anyone who walked past. Unfortunately the girls in mini skirts on another stand were getting more attention and the predominantly male attendees were ignoring me.
The guy who was in charge of the stand decided that I wasn’t working hard enough and came over to show me “how it’s done.” He thrust a bag towards a startled man and said “Here! It’s free!” the man continued to be startled and walked on. He would have had more luck if he was in hot pants. After a few more attempts he finally got someone to take one and told me to do the same. Right-o.
Then disaster struck. We were running out of bags! I seized this opportunity to grab some CDs, bags and free trial stickers and ran up to the exhibitors lounge to make them up.
The exhibitors lounge was an enclosed area on a sort of mezzanine level that overlooked the exhibition hall. From there a most disturbing thing could be heard. There was a stand somewhere that was playing a Fleetwood Mac greatest hits CD over and over again. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow when I’d be at home!
I sat at a table stickering CDs then putting the CDs into bags. Behind me were two models dressed in hot pants and tank tops who were working for a tyre shop’s stand.
They appeared to have only met the day before, and I sat listening to one of them say stuff like, “When I was 17 I got pregnant and I really wanted to keep the baby, and my boyfriend did too, but we decided to adopt it so we did. I’ve been trying now to have a baby with my partner, but we haven’t had much luck. I think I might stick with modelling for a few more years…”
I brought a couple of boxes of filled bags down and was afforded half an hour for a lunch break. I wandered around looking at the other stands. Cars. Stereos. Boats. Televisions. Motorbikes. Disposable razors. Oh, it was all there.
Then it was back to the bags. This time a man and a woman who hadn’t seen each other for a few years were catching up.
“I’m operating a franchise for motorcycle parts and maintenance. It’ll take a few years to break even, but as we are operating a quality operation, we’ll be there in no time.”
“I’m a rep for a company that sells high-quality audio and video cabling. You know, people don’t realise that the quality of the cables can really make the difference.”
“I know what you man. I was at another stand here and the bloke there offered me a 10% exhibitors discount, but I said, “Mate, I don’t expect a discount.” I wouldn’t give him one, and I don’t expect him to give me one. Guys come in and say “Can I get 10% off for cash?” No, you bloody well can not. What they don’t realise is that they are paying for quality and if I give them a discount, the quality suffers.”
“I know what you mean. People think we are wholesale, but we’re not. We’re retail and because of that we can’t give discounts.”
“That’s bloody right!”
Then a guy from the stand that was playing the Fleetwood Mac album continuously came in. Someone asked him about it and he explained that they had brought a large selection of CDs to the show, but whenever they played the Fleetwood Mac CD, it attracted lots of people.
I stickered more. I bagged more.
The husband and wife owners of the tyre shop were taking a break and talking with the models. “We were originally going to have you girls in mini-skirts, but we thought, if you’re going to actually be doing things with tyres, you’d be better off in hot pants.” The models agreed.
Finally, finally, it all came to an end, and I got to go home.
I had learned a number of valuable lessons:
1. Do not participate in anything that requires you to dress like a pregnant metaller.
2. If you are unable to muster up enthusiasm towards complete strangers about things you feel ambivalent about, go upstairs.
3. Avoid companies that employ people dressed in hot pants.
4. Playing Fleetwood Mac continuously is not a sign of a healthy mind.
5. If you’re feeling really dorky dressed like a metaller, and people are ignoring you in favour of girls in hot pants, being yelled at by the man in charge is does not do wonders for self-confidence.
6. But going around getting free stuff is cool.
I shall chalk it up to experience.