Friday, January 17, 2014

Schlepping for Dollars

            Have you ever seen someone demonstrating new products on a morning TV talk show?  People think this sounds like a glamorous, easy job, right?  Guess what?  I do this, folks, and those three minutes on camera are the only easy part of the entire job.  

The second the segment ends, the work begins.  You pack up your props, grab a cab, head to the airport, fly to a new city, get another cab, check into a hotel, eat, sleep, grab a cab to the TV station, and start all over again.  You visit 10 cities in 10 days (zig-zagging across the country, usually), often hauling giant crates of props that can’t be checked into standard luggage.  You are, basically, a mule with makeup.  And you usually have seven or eight sponsors to please in that short bit of time, so you must memorize all the talking points, yet be flexible enough to chat with the show hosts. 
Airlines lose luggage, sometimes you have to demo food that must be purchased at 4:00 in the morning, and you take taxis around town to find a supermarket open at that hour, so you can get to the TV studio by 5:30.  And you do all this with makeup and hairdo intact.
You are on Eastern time in the morning, and Pacific time that evening.  Then Eastern time again the next day.
You get searched at every airport because none of these flights are round trips—aha!  Just like a terrorist would book flights!  You see a sign in Phoenix that says, “Terminal Baggage Claim,” and you think, yes, that is exactly right. 
         You speak mostly with cab drivers for a week and a half.  Most of them are from countries that do not like America, so you get a history lesson about what is wrong with us as well.  You try to be friendly and ask one of them if he has always lived in New York and he tells you you’re in Orlando.  Oh.

You wait for a Southwest flight in Dallas or Chicago, who can remember, and realize they have sign that says, “Checkin.”  As a word person, this irritates you.   You decide that they can say check in, or check-in, but not just checkin.  It looks like chicken, misspelled.  It looks lazy and sloppy with total disregard for accuracy, and those are not qualities you want in an airline.
“Most people don’t think twice about it,” a fool behind the counter says.  Well of course not.  If someone can’t think once, how are they going to think twice?
You check into a hotel in Atlanta and you see a sign that says, “WELCOME PRO-HEALTH DOCTORS” and you think, “You mean there’s another kind?”  This is where you’ll probably have a fire drill and the halls will fill with boobs who are attending that convention and find nothing wrong with its title.
In Washington D.C. you are booked into a hotel called “Rouge,” where everything is red and I am not joking.  The walls, the beds, all of it: Red.  Okay, the carpet is leopard print.  But the ink in the pens is red.  The mini-bar in each room contains red wax lips.  Naked statues are out front.  And you’re supposed to climb into this bed where God only knows what’s gone on before you got there.
In Los Angeles you see a live dog in the X-ray as a bag is going through.  No one says a word.  Somehow an entire animal goes unnoticed, and these people are worried about manicure scissors.   

At baggage claim a man lifts a gigantic SNAKE from his bag and happily presents it to his delighted boys.  Again, a writhing, 3-foot skeletal system was not detected on the x-ray screen, and then people wonder how movies like “Snakes On a Plane” get made.
But I love this job.  I live for those glorious three minutes.
Portions of this post appear in Sisters in the Mix, a chic-lit comedy about a woman with two things:  OCD and a cooking show.  Available at Amazon and Createspace.

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