Friday, February 15, 2008

Tucson Day 5

This became a routine: I woke up around 6:50; my boss picked me up at 7:30; we got our breakfast which was a bagel and a hazelnut regular coffee for me; we set up the booth and were ready for the show to start at 10:00. Sounds fascinating, wasn't it?

Today was Friday. The weather was nice, cold breeze; people would rather spend time outside. I, too, was sitting under the sun having a quick lunch. Nothing was exciting for me. I had a chance to walk around. However, I didn't buy or purchase anything because of my lack of knowledge. If my co-worker had come with me, I would definitely have bought something nice and inexpensive.

There was another routine at 6 o'clock: putting everything backs to the safe. We did this pretty quickly since everyone wanted to leave. Around 6:30 we were done. Tonight dinner was Mexican. The restaurant was near our hotel so we walked there. Food was okay, nothing spectacular. However the company was great. I could tell that everyone was having fun after a couple of drinks were consumed. If I was right, I had around 5 Margaritas. We moved the dining area to the bar because they were closing up. More people, who just finished dinner from another restaurant, joined us. I finally made a new friend.

I will definitely have a terrible headache tomorrow. Fortunately, we have no work because of Jewish holidays.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tucson Day 4

I had 15 minutes more this morning. Actually, not really. We left the hotel around 7:30 to get a bagel and coffee at the same shop. We set up the booth pretty quickly. We slightly rearranged the display. One of the special lights we used was not working .so I had to go to another exhibition to get a new one. There was another Gem show across the street. The display and atmosphere was very different; much more laid-back and less expensive stuff were to be sold. I saw a couple of exhibitor from Bangkok, Thailand but they were not Thai people; they were Indian I believe.

The light bulb that my boss thought broken was working just fine. So I had to come back empty handed. On the way back to the booth, I took photos of Arizona police officers who were wearing shorts. After seeing two bicycles parked on the sidewalk, I was asking, “Are you really a police? Or are you just a bicyclist who’s wearing a police uniform? They were laughing and said that they were asked the same question all day long.

Tonight, after everything locked up, we went directly to a party organized by ICA-International Colored Stones Association—at Arizona Inn. Surrounded by people from this business, I felt completely like a stranger. It raises the serious question: what am I doing here? Is it really what I want to do? David and I sneaked out in the middle of the party because we were starving. My other boss was already at the steakhouse with a good friend of his whose booth is next to us. A piece of medium-rare filet mignon and two glasses of Cabinet was a perfect combination. I had a piece of Tucson toilet art showing here too.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tucson Day 3

David called me when I was getting dress. He asked if I would want to have breakfast at the hotel or a bagel and a coffee from the same place. You know what my answer was! He picked me up at 7:30 am. I had breakfast in the car. One of the guys still got sick and had not been able to work. Oh great! We were short-staffed. They wouldn’t consider me useful because I know nothing about colored stones. However I would be a good labor helping them setting up the booth.

The show officially started at 10:00. Dealers, buyers kept coming in. Some stopped by asking for the price, looking at stones and buying them. I was introduced to more people. Great! More faces to match names. Some customers came with light on their head, looked very seriously. Some customers could be mobile booths themselves, considering how many pieces of jewelry they wore. This was interesting: an Aussie girl kept saying, “This stone doesn’t call out my name.” wondering if I had jeweler’s eyes, would a piece of stone be calling my name?

It was not easy finding food here. It’s either junk or is expensive. I walked out of the hall and found a medium-sized van in which Thai food was sold. But the line was incredibly long. So I walked back inside and got tuna sandwich instead. It was cost $7. I ate half of it because I knew I’d have a second hit later.

My boss who got sick came almost at the end of the day helping us putting everything back to the safe. Tonight’s dinner was at Thai restaurant. I was introduced to an old friend of my boss’s. Food was okay, I wouldn’t say it was that good. It was more like Americanized, or perhaps it was not Thai at all. I hadn’t had Thai food in two days so I couldn’t compliant much. The company, on the other hand, was extraordinary. Really loved it.

Second day of the show should be much easier. We’ll see.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tucson Day 2

Day started around 8:30 when I woke up. Breakfast at the hotel was not as good as I expected. Drinking coffee was like drinking tea. Oh well this is not a five-star hotel. Moreover, I was still stuffed from last night’s dinner. David stopped by to get a freshly brew coffee and bagel. Therefore, my stomach was happy.

We went to the storage to get material used in the exhibition. I have never been an exhibitor before. This is the whole new experience. Basically setting up the booth was what we did today, all day long. One of my bosses got sick of stomach viruses, so it was only three of us working today. Hard work indeed, I was standing up most of the time. By the end of the day my feet were tired I could barely walk. I also tried to work actively since there was no chance to go exercising. At the convention I saw many familiar faces from New York and new faces who are dealers from other states. It is also nice to be able to match faces with voices.

Dinner took place at Cucina Italiana, owned by my boss’s friend, with a couple of people from Nairobi and the Director of AGTA who can amazingly speak Thai. It went well; food was great, definitely better than last night. I ate too much I could hardly walk. Funny, isn’t it? It’s either I work too much or eat too much I couldn’t walk.

Bad news is I have to be ready at 7:30 tomorrow morning. Oh boy!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tucson Day 1

I woke up pretty early this morning to get ready for my flight. Car service was ready when I walked out of my house. It was 8 o’clock in the morning. The traffic wasn’t that bad. It took me around 20 minutes to go to LaGuardia Airport and to find out that my flight had been delayed for one hour and a half. New York hasn’t been able to find the way to handle this snow situation yet.

Surely, all passengers were upset. I sat next to an Indian guy who happened to travel to the same destination. While we waited for the plane to take off, I was reading Sky Mall magazine and found some fascinating items; the biggest crossword which would take a whole year to resolve, the travel mug which has an USB port to connect to your laptop to keep your drink warm. Who would have thought of this stuff?

I was reading Ancient Futures, the book I got as my birthday present, to bide my time instead of talking to the Indian guy sitting next to me. Some Ladakhi girls married to two guys inevitably because it is one of their customs. I imagined if I would be able to do the same thing. Nowadays, snack is sold for $3 in the airplane. A flight attendant was serving me a cold coffee. It was a delayed flight; I understood and didn’t say anything. I just returned the coffee politely. However, she replaced a new cup of coffee.

We were literally running out of the plane when it arrived Dallas. Our connecting flight was only 15 minutes apart. When we got to the gate, the crewmember in front of the gate pronounced that the plane to Tucson was delayed. So we had time to grab something to eat. I was starving and ordering this big chicken sandwiched from Chili’s. According to the change, we had to move to a different gate. This long walk made me even more hungry and frustrated. One delayed flight wasn’t enough, was it?

Finally, the plane to Tucson was on board. I was in line to get into the plane. In front of me was the lovely family; young couple with blonde daughter, Eliza. This little kid just made my day. She was smiling and mumbling innocently. Gradually I calmed down and lost my anxiety. It was nothing you could do. Really! Plus I should be happy that my Indian neighbor had been upgraded to first class.

Unbelievably, I was seated next to Eliza’s father. As a good citizen would do, I gave up my seat to this family so they could sit together. Today wasn’t the good to fly; another long wait before we take off. It was just because some inconsiderate passenger threw away a diaper in the toilet, which caused clogging and leaking. I slept most of the time, tired of this trip already.

After my boss picked me up at the airport, he checked me in to Randolph Park Hotel & Suites. The size of the bed would fit three people. I got to stay in this room by myself. God protects me. BJ introduced me to one of his best friend/supplier from Nairobi. We went to have dinner at this Asian fusion restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant has changed. Now it’s French, which wasn’t as good as it used to be. Even though it was an opening night, we were a bit disappointed. However. The night went well with good jokes, great wine and sweet waitress. I was laughing so hard I could almost choke when BJ’s friend had a doubt that the chef was really French. Everything on the table wasn’t considered as French at all, according to his experiences on food.

Time difference is two hours. Three glasses of red wine just took in. It’s time to bed. Hard work awaits tomorrow.