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illustration: Regan Dunnick
Oh Sh!t
One of the rogue pigeons airdropped its payload onto the hair of one of our saleswomen. It was time to cut the crap and get this situation cleaned up.
Plan A
When you've been in the trade show industry as long as I have – 25 years – you'll have dealt with your fair share of crap. At one show a few years back, that crap was more literal than I could have imagined.

This all went down when I worked for a previous employer. I was at the International Consumer Electronics Show, where I managed a large booth with more than a dozen rooms for client and prospect meetings. Our exhibit was located near the freight doors, and I remember turning my eyes skyward during setup and noting a few pigeons swooping around the ceiling trusses above our booth. I didn't think too much of it at the time because I assumed that once the show started and the doors closed, the birds would simply vanish.

Alas, it was not to be. During the first few hours of the show, those pesky pigeons deposited their droppings onto the tables and product samples in our open-air meeting rooms. And they were just getting warmed up. During a particularly memorable client meeting, one of the rogue pigeons airdropped its payload onto the hair of one of our saleswomen, who was none too happy about having to wash out the complimentary glob of "shampoop" in the public restroom. It was time to cut the crap and get this situation cleaned up.


Plan B
I flew to the show decorator's service desk and informed the supervisor of the avian assault. He told me that our booth was located beneath the current roosting residence of a small but active coterie of pigeons and nothing could be done.

This information was delivered in a condescending tone that suggested I was interloping on the pigeons' turf instead of the other way around.

Unhappy with the lack of actionable advice, I decided to bring the problem to show management. I located a pair of reps on the show floor and escorted them to the booth. After observing my crew smearing bacteria-laden bird poop around in their best attempt to clean, the reps promised to intervene with the decorator on my behalf. Sure enough, after about an hour, the dismissive supervisor showed up and this time assured me he had an after-hours solution. We just had to survive the day, which we somehow did.

I returned to the exhibit early the next morning keenly interested in knowing what had transpired and was surprised to find the supervisor and a small army of venue staff already waiting. He asked to be let into one of the meeting rooms to "clean up," so I opened the doors and followed him in. There we found a pile of feathers and three expired pigeons. With the efficiency of Dexter, the staff promptly removed the birds and all evidence of the late-night remedy, which may or may not have involved a BB gun.

Sometimes it's best not to ask too many questions, so I stood quietly to the side while they worked. The problem was solved, and I was certainly glad to reassure my sales staff that they shouldn't expect any more air raids. I do, however, have one pro tip: Don't clean it while it's fresh. Wait until it's dry, and then it flakes right off.


— Bob McGrath, marketing manager, Dish Network LLC, Englewood, CO


TELL US A STORY
Send your Plan B exhibiting experiences to Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitormagazine.com.

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