THE STORY

This is the city. Any City, Anywhere. Once a year thousands of professionals from all fields of the Green Industry descend upon the Convention Center for the Anywhere Landscape Contractor Industry Trade show. In every state, every year, gardeners, landscape contractors, nurserymen, lawn care and grounds maintenance professionals will fill the Great Halls of Commerce.

My name is Joe Friday. This is my partner Pete Gannon. Our job? To survive the Landscape Industry Trade Show.

Wednesday, April 23rd

10:00am: The doors open. We walk in. We pass through a short hall pleasantly decorated with plants. Several landscaped displays with fountains, waterscapes, and ponds line the hall. We turn the corner and are face to face with the Show Information Booth. Here they are eagerly handing out maps of the showroom. We ignore them and pass into the showroom unprepared. Our first mistake.

10:05am: A whirling, twirling display of color and people confronts us. A beautiful girl places a Hawaiian lei around my shoulders. Another is confronting Pete. Someone is explaining the virtues of a large piece of lawn mowing equipment. I keep my eye on Pete. They’ve got a pen in his hand.

11:15am: We managed to break away from Hawaii, but it was expensive. Our new lawn care equipment trailer arrives next week. Unless they check Pete’s credit. My saving grace.

11:45am: I am spinning a large wheel with numbers on it. To either side of me Las Vegas type dealers are throwing cards out to players at a “21″ table. Is this legal here?

11:46am: Pete is shouting “Blackjack, Blackjack!!” Someone is stuffing a package of some kind in my arms. They have my card. I’m told they will call me next week. Pete is signing some papers. I grab his collar as the salesman informs him that the lawn mower and edger will be delivered on Monday. I sigh relief as I see the salesman putting away the credit agreement. I check for Pete’s wallet. It’s still there.

12:00pm: We get into line for lunch.

1:00pm: We pick up our lunch and head for a table. We sit down. The face across the table is familiar. A salesman! I eat fast. As I gobble my last bite I notice Pete smearing mustard on his shirt as he is franticly grabbing at his pen. I grab him by the ear and leave.

1:30pm: Wandering aimlessly, adrift in a crowd flowing down a sea of color, suit and ties, pretty girls, and hawking salesmen. Where’s Pete??!!

2:00pm: Found him. Some kind of Wheel of Fortune game. A pretty girl on either arm. Pens in both hands. We escape in the nick of time. I think someone is chasing us through the crowd, but I’m afraid to look back.

2:30pm: My arms feel like lead. I notice large bulging bags attached to both hands. Bags filled with sample products, PVC glue, sprinklers, miniature lawn mowers, brochures, pens, badges, lei’s, and business cards. Pete has bags in either hand also. Filled with contracts, promissory notes, credit applications, and delivery dates.

3:17pm: My putting is off. I take four strokes to sink a par three hole. Where am I? Oh, another contest.

4:25pm: I am nodding my head in agreement. An engine roars to life. I nod again. My hands are firmly stuffed in my pockets. Someone is tugging on my arm. My hands are slipping. A pen is wavering in front of my face. PETE! PETE!! Pete is pulling me away. What’s this? Pete is pulling ME away? A salesman in the background is raving and waving a credit report at Pete. Pete is hustling me toward the door.

4:45pm: We are nearing the exit. Behind me I hear many people shouting Pete’s name. Sounds like a stampede. I don’t look back. No pillar’s of salt for me.

4:55pm: We pass the Information booth on the way out. I notice the “Just Looking” buttons being offered. Why now? I think I missed the most important booth.

5:00pm: We reach the truck. With great effort we load our bags into the back. It’s now full. Pete mentions that this was the best landscaping trade show that we have ever attended. Landscaping? We’re plumbers!

THE OUTCOME

Joe Friday finishes the landscaping trade school he signed up for and receives his license. His new truck and equipment arrives. He sells his plumbing business. A year later he is rich.

Pete Gannon changes his name, social security number, and driver’s license. He gets a job at a bank as a loan representative.

NOTES:

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.