I spent all week at the Wire and Tube trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. My company had a booth and I, being female, was asked to work as a kind of hostess for the booth. In other words, I got people coffee, topped up the bowls of peanuts, sliced Leberkäs for guests, and washed many many dishes.
I’ve never worked a trade fair before. It was really tough the first three days, and really great the last two days. The toughest part, besides standing all day, was being around my colleagues virtually 24/7. Not that I don’t like them, but I had no time to myself at all. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever consumed that much alcohol in a 6 day period, ever.
Every day, after the fair closed, we cleaned up, packed up, drove to the hotel, got changed and went out for dinner. Dinner is always washed down and followed by many drinks. And you can’t make excuses: everyone goes and is expected to have fun. Naturally, people talk about work, which is extremely boring since I’m not in sales like all the other guys I was with.
The fair ended on Friday. Four of us were supposed to fly home that evening, while three would have stayed until Saturday and driven home (they drove a station wagon and a van up there with all the stuff for the booth). Well, of course by Thursday evening, the volcano in Iceland was spewing ash and flights were being canceled. Ever optimistic, we held out hope all day Friday that our flights wouldn’t be canceled, but it was not to be.
The crew at the booth of a Spanish company next to ours took a taxi home. To Barcelona. All train tickets were sold out, rental cars were gone by 9 am Friday morning. They left behind a lot of wonderful Rioja and olive oil, which they had been giving away to important general managers. The hostess came over to our booth and gave us a few bottles.
By 6 on Friday evening, we had packed everything into the van. Three colleagues drove home immediately, four of us stayed overnight and drove in the morning. We had dinner and many drinks at a hole in the wall near our hotel. Afterwards, one colleague and I managed to empty a bottle of that Rioja with nothing but water glasses and sheer determination.
Needless to say, getting up the next morning was tough. It took us about 7 and a half hours to get back to Linz. My partner in Rioja-based crime spent most of the drive imitating a yo-yo: drifting off to sleep, head falling to the side, jerking back awake. Lather, rinse, repeat. But I can’t sleep in cars, I had a book along. Thank god Stefan suggested I pack a second one!
I had to skip the ladies night out I had planned to go to on Saturday night. Also, the weekend has been very short. Just today, really. But in general, it was a good week and I’ll probably be doing it again come November, at the Aluminum trade fair in Essen.