It always starts a few days before; trying to wrap up loose ends so I can get out of town for a few days. Coming in early, staying late, working through lunch, and doing everything I can to get caught up. Then, whether it’s an early flight, or an early start on a long drive, it’s time to hit the road. A few minutes later the ‘what did I forget’ sensation rears its ugly head. Then the ‘dang it, I just remembered what I forgot’ moment arrives. Yep, we’re heading to a jewelry show.
I plan on leaving the house at 7:10 am so we can arrive at the hotel by 1:25. Then, we’ll grab a quick lunch since we’ll have to wait until 3:00 to check into our rooms. But whether it’s a flight delay or road construction, something always throws my schedule right out of the window. The weekend is ruined. Not really ruined, but I’ve got a plan. I’ve got a schedule. I’ve got things to do, people to meet. Ain’t nobody got time for delays.
Well, as luck would have it, we end up at the hotel at 2:10 and the front desk says our rooms are ready. Woo hoo! Let’s get this party started. But, the party I’m traveling with has other plans. It usually comes in the form of, ‘I’m not wearing this out in public! These are my comfy, traveling sweatpants, not my new show clothes that I just bought. Plus, my hair is a wreck from sleeping in the car, and I didn’t do my make-up yet. Just give me 10 minutes.”
About 2 hours later, I’ve lost my Woo hoo! because I’m now 2 hours and 43 minutes behind schedule, but we get going anyway. We make our way to the show registration desk and I present my ID and business card. The person behind the counter looks up my name on the computer and there I am, right there on the screen. While she’s printing my badge, she asks the other people in my party for their ID’s. Uh oh. Then I hear; “I didn’t bring my purse because I didn’t want to carry it all day. I left my ID in my room. Will you go get it for me – pretty please?”
So, here I go, already behind schedule, hungry and grumpy by now, I head across the vast cavernous divide that separates the convention floor from our hotel rooms. And of course the key to their room doesn’t work. So it’s back to the elevator, and back to the front desk, where about 1,000 people are in front of me checking in because they are going to the same show I’m going to. Another 26 minutes pass before I’m standing at the counter with the bad room key. The person behind the desk apologizes, checks my ID and runs that key card through a machine to reprogram it and I’m finally on my way.
I get to the room and the key still doesn’t work, so I call my peeps only to discover they are in room 817, not 718. Back to the elevator I go. I get in their room and it looks like a tornado went through it already. Somewhere in this mess is a purse. I find the purse, but not the ID I’m looking for. So I call again, and spend the next 6 minutes digging through someone else’s luggage, and BINGO, I find it. Now I cross that great divide back to the show registration desk, only to find the 1,000 people that were in front of me at the hotel check-in desk, are now in front of me at the show registration desk. And by the way, where are my people?
Maybe they went to the bathroom and they’ll be right back, so I get in line. It’s moving slow, but it’s moving, and my peeps are nowhere to be seen, so I call them. Oh, they got hungry waiting on me to get their IDs so they decided to grab some lunch. And, they need me to come down and pay for it because they didn’t bring their purses. So, I lose my place in line, again, and walk about a ½ mile to the restaurant just in time to see the waiter clear the table and drop the check. Hey, what about me?
I pay the check, and think, “Something smells good. Man, I’m hungry! But, I’m also very late and I’ve got things to do, let’s get a move on.” So back to the registration desk we go. 18 minutes and 12 seconds later, everyone has their badges and it’s time to hit the showroom floor, albeit it’s so late in the day that the show is starting to wrap up for the day and the bar in the corner is already open. What the heck, I’m not only hungry, I’m thirsty as well.
As I’m paying for a beer, I hear over the loud speaker, “The show will close in 15 minutes.” Oh well, we’re here for another day and a half. Plenty of time to get done what I came here to do.
So now it’s back to the hotel to get ready for the night. Another 2 hours and 15 minutes later, everyone is ready and this time I make sure that everyone has their ID on them. By now I’m dizzy and light headed from no food and 6 beers, but we’re only going downstairs to the cocktail reception in the lobby and then on to dinner somewhere in the hotel complex.
The next morning, I wake up with a massive headache. Did I ever eat? How much did I have to drink? Who was that vendor that kept buying me those shots? What was in those shots? And why do I have all of these business cards scattered across the desk? What time is it? What time zone am I in? Did I reset my watch yet, or is it still on my normal time zone? And, who’s that girl coming out of the bathroom?
Okay, just kidding about that one. But, I struggle out of bed, get in the shower while the coffee’s brewing and pretty soon I’m almost feeling human again. About 10:30, I make it to the showroom floor and can’t decide if I want to work the show left to right or right to left. A flip of the coin and; oh look, there’s my shot-buying buddy from last night. I’ve got to be cool and pretend I remember his name without obviously glaring at his badge. A quick hi, yeah that was fun, we should do it again, and I get to work. A little bit later I realize its 11:30 and an early lunch would probably hit the spot. I’ll be dining alone because everyone else is still at the hotel getting ready. But I walk in the restaurant and see some old friends who invite me to join them. They’re having a beer with lunch so I guess I will too. An hour and a half and 3 beers later I’m ready to get to work. But a nap sounds really good right now. Nope. No nap. Get to work.
The rest of the day is uneventful. That night is a blur of vendors buying me too many drinks, just like the night before. Catching up with people I’ve known for decades that I only see once or twice a year at a show. Finally making it to my room, only to do it all again tomorrow.
And that my friends, is every.single.jewelry.show that I’ve ever attended. My liver hurts just writing this. Ha ha. Everyone out in Vegas enjoy yourselves and remember you’re there to work, not party.
Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.