Second story from an article originally published in The Crafts Report (now known as Handmade Business) in July 2010. Backstory now included!
(Operator): Craft 911, what is the nature of your craft emergency?”
(Caller #2): “#*@!?(@*!!%!”
(Operator): “Sir, that kind of language is not helpful. Please state the nature of your craft emergency.”
(Caller #2): “Oh, sorry. I’m just SO MAD!! I set up my booth at this high-end indoor fine craft show, and there’s half an empty space on each side, and somebody says I’m in their space! The show floor is laid out wrong! These show organizers are brainless, stupid, #*?@*!!$#!!”
(Operator): “Seriously, buster, knock off the foul language. Okay, I think I know what your problem is. I want you to lift the corner of your booth carpeting and see if you see some lines of tape on the floor underneath. Go ahead, I’ll wait.”
(Caller #2): Yes, there are tape marks under my booth.”
(Operater): “Sir, by any chance are those marks running down the middle of your booth, from front to back? Right down the center?”
(Caller #2): “Why….yes! How did you know??”
(Operater): “Just an educated guess. Sir, you need to enlist the help of some sturdy people. I’m sure the show organizers would be happy to shut you…er…help you out. Have them grab your entire booth frame and carpet, and shift it halfway to either the left or right. Heck, there might even be a little marker on the floor with your real booth number to guide you.”
(Caller #2): “You’re right! I found my booth number! Thank you!!”
(Operator): “It’s what we do sir. Have a great show.”
Backstory: This is a true story!
Back in the day, I did several major fine craft shows, retail and wholesale. At one I did every year (sometimes twice a year!) for awhile, I got to meet many other creatives, and some became good friends. (Thanks to social media, it’s easier to stay in touch, too.)
I also got to know many of the show organizers/employees, and grew to appreciate their wisdom, their integrity, their skills, and their support.
And one year, an exhibitor did this exact thing. Set up their booth halfway in their space, halfway into their neighbor’s space. And then they complained loudly and often to everyone within site and range, especially the show managment. (They had been a pretty cool person before this incident, so we were all kind shocked at the awful things this exhibitor said about the show personnel.)
Especially when, later that day, from the staff that it was NOT the show peeps’ fault. The exhibitor had set up their booth in the middle of TWO booth spaces, despite the very-easy-to-see tape markings outlining their booth space.
The show staff handled it with kindness and efficiancy. They didn’t even tell the exhibitor that the EXHIBITOR had messed up their set-up, not the booth layout team. They just got the booth moved to one side, and reassured the exhibitor that they were always there to help.
Later, I learned more about the exhibitor’s personal backstory, and complicated family matters, and had empathy for them. But it still changed everything about how I viewed them as a professional creative, and as a grown-up.
Yes, there are jerks in every organization, every group, etc. But most show organizers DO want you to have a GREAT show! Most professional service providers are pretty good at their job. And obviously, in this case, they set aside the unfair attack against them, and simply fixed this person’s problem without adding to that person’s stress.
I thought that was pretty amazing! Still do.
What I learned:
It’s okay to be (understandably) frustrated when things go wrong. We all mess up, other people sometimes mess up, etc.
But making assumptions without exploring the “why” behind what happened, asserting blame without knowing the whole story, and telling complaining loud and long to everyone and everybody, is not okay.
And that person never owned their own goof. I asked the staff later, and no, that person never apologized, or even admitted to others that it actually wasn’t the staff’s fault.Either the person never realized that THEY had goofed up, or it wasn’t part of their nature to accept responsibility for their errors.
The temper tantrum was really, really hard to forget, too.
That totally changed my opinion about them and all the “professionalism” they claimed to bring to their career.
Short story: We all make mistakes.
But it’s never okay to blame others for ours. And being the only booth out of hundreds of booths, to be out of alignment? Shoulda been a clue….
Coming soon! Part 3!