Being a veteran of trade shows, I am quite familiar with the setup and mechanics of the ones I attend. Except for one show I was asked to attend and fill in for a colleague of mine.
Usually, I know what hall the show is located in and the name of the company I will be assisting, the personnel in the booth, and the booth row and booth number. That wasn’t the case for this show.
All I knew is the that it was located in the Nashville convention center and I was to be there Friday and Saturday. I asked my colleague how was I going to find where I needed to go.
He said he knew the first name of the contact, (Mike) but not the company name he was exhibiting under because they went under several names. However, he said I wouldn’t have any problem finding the booth. He said to walk into the show and listen for a man that sounded like Shrek!
Shrek! WTF? I asked, “That’s it! That’s how I’m supposed to find the booth? By listening for a man that sounded like the Disney cartoon character Shrek?” He assured me that I would have no problem.
My flight to Nashville was uneventful and I checked into my hotel and went to find Shrek in the convention center. Thankfully, this trade show was a small one, only about 300 vendors and about 600 booths lined up in 10 rows. (Some shows have thousands of vendors and thousands of booths)
I decided to start at the first row and work my way around the show. I walked up the aisle slowly listening to the people talking hoping to hone in on the Shrek voice. No luck in row one. None in row two or three either. As I turned the corner of row four, I heard a man talking very loud. With an accent. A Scottish accent. I heard him say, “Hey donkey, that’s not where that goes.” A few seconds later I came face to face with Shrek. He was talking up a storm and he sounded exactly like Shrek. And looked a lot like him as well. A blockhead, big ogre type shoulders, tall, round stick out ears, just sans the green coloring. Give him a club and he could double as Shrek.
I started laughing out loud. Shrek, (Mike) turned around and stopped what he was doing for a moment and sized me up. He then said, “Oh, look at the funny man. Who are you supposed to be?” I told him I was Patrick and was here to help him. He said, “Oh, that’s just great!” I told him, “Just don’t call me donkey there Shrek!”
My colleague forgot to tell me that Mike (Shrek) didn’t like to be compared to the cartoon character. Mike clammed up for a moment, gave me one of those upset looks that Shrek did and folded his arms and just stared at me. I couldn’t help it. I said, “Hey look, it’s Cameron Diaz!” (Princess Fiona, Shrek’s love interest) All weekend long I called him Shrek. After a while, he got used to it.
LURKING ON THE GRASSY KNOLL