Thursday, June 18, 2009

That's Easy For You To Say

When I was in my early twenties, I was fortunate enough to have a job that kept me out of the office, traveling the country and meeting a lot of interesting people. (If by traveling the country, you mean to towns with populations of fewer than 26 people, and if by interesting, you mean terrifying...)

(Aside: Once, I called my dad from a trade show I was doing in Mississippi. He asked, "what's the time difference?" and I said, "two hours and about 40 years.")

One of the trips I took was to the Soldier of Fortune convention in Las Vegas. (You may remember Soldier of Fortune from their earlier work in "Oopsie -- we let a hit man advertise in our classifieds."). As you may imagine, the attendees at this convention fit a very specific demographic (see "terrifying" above).

On the first day of the convention, I had just finished setting up my booth with the ORGANIZATION THAT DOES NOT HATE FREEDOM materials, when I heard a weird noise at the end of the aisle. I couldn't see anything, but kept hearing an odd sort of hooting sound. As the noise got closer, I realized that the source was a massive human being -- he was about six feet of solid muscle. Also, he had a long ponytail, was albino, and had Tourette's Syndrome (I could not make this up on my best day, but thank you for thinking that I could).

As he made his way down the aisle closer to me, I silently willed him to keep walking and not stop at my booth. But of course he did. And of course he was a member. And of course he had a question about his membership that he needed to ask me. After a bit of a struggle, he managed to get the question out. I took a piece of paper, wrote a phone number on it and said, "You'll need to call this number and ask for Lance (our member specialist back at HQ) and he'll be able to help you." To which he replied, "Okay, thanks. I'll be sure to call llllAAAAAAAAnnnnncCCCEEEEEEE."

I could never refer to Lance as just "Lance" again after that. From that day forward, he was llllAAAAAAAAnnnnncCCCEEEEEEE. (I'm pretty sure that's also the day I began applying to graduate schools.)

These colors don't bleed,


Dilettard07 said...

Soldier of Fortune convention. Wow. I have so many questions, and none even involve the fellow in question (although, again, wow; I just don't know what to ask about that). Wait, here's one: so did he call Lance?

1) Do you recall the other exhibitors? Did any of the warring factions in the former Yugoslavia have a booth? Perhaps Angolans representing UNITA? I can just imagine a Who's Who of International Thuggery and Mischief.

2) What was the convention centerpiece? Were there any floor shows? 40 mm rifle grenade rounds instead of ping pong balls?

3) When is the next one scheduled to occur?

OneZenMom said...

I never knew there were Soldier of Fortune conventions. I probably could have gone on in blissful ignorance of that for just a bit longer, thanks. :)

But, regardless, it is obvious to me now that I wasted my youth. Totally wasted it.

Because stories like this? THIS is what your early 20s are FOR. For collecting those moments that make you laugh well into your 80s. :)

dilettante07 said...

I'm pretty sure I would've either freaked out and run away, or laughed in his face. Two good reasons never to have me staff a trade show booth.

How many shock therapy sessions did it take for the nightmares to stop?

Brutalism said...

Tante -- They haven't. There were many times at trade shows when I wished I'd had some sort of escape hatch in the floor. Maybe the dilettantes should work a trade show? (Excuse me, I'm wiping tears away I'm laughing so hard...)

Brutalism said...

Tard - I don't think he ever called llllaaaAAAAannnCCEEEE, because I'm sure I would have heard about it. lllaaaAAAAAnnnnCCCEEE is now a friend of mine on FB, I should ask him. Other exhibitors had a lot of weaponry and bumper stickers that said, "I love animals. They are delicious." Didn't stay on the SoF mailing list. Shocker.

ZenMom - That was one of many insane experiences I had while working for that organization. It was truly the most fun job I ever had (looking the time some of it wasn't so much fun).

JenBC said...

After surviving that encounter you should have walked directly to the nearest slots and pulled the handle, because it was definitely your lucky day.

A lover of perilously high heels like yourself must have had a really hard time at tradeshows. Did your feet just kill you by the end of the day (as opposed to the show attendees?), or did you force yourself to wear "comfortable" shoes? (Now I'm giggling just imagining you wearing Naturalizers)