Canadian Rental Service

The Funny Page: Pickles & Onions

By Steve Milcik   

Features Business Intelligence

The stunningly handsome man meandered slowly down the tree-lined street, breathing deeply as a small smile spread across his movie-star good looks.

The stunningly handsome man meandered slowly down the tree-lined street, breathing deeply as a small smile spread across his movie-star good looks. He was home again, finally, the long road behind him fading off into his memories. Spring was not far off, and proof of that was evident by the sound of birds chirping in the air, the first patches of grass sprouting through the rapidly melting snow and the pile of defrosting doggie-do he had just stepped in.

Trade-show season was over, and Milcik was at peace.

It’s been a whirlwind of travel and activity this year, and despite the doom-and-gloom of the current economy, the trade-show circuit has proved that the rental industry is still thriving and, in many cases, growing dramatically. My first show of the season was the CRA show in sunny Surrey, B.C. I knew it was going to be a good one when my GPS unit, still angry from the time I had ignored its advice to “take the next left,” decided to get even by guiding me in the wrong direction. Because of the fog, I didn’t realize I was in trouble until a border guard asked me why I wanted to travel to Seattle.

Shortly after that I attended the Special Event in beautiful San Diego, Calif. Party people from around the continent came to see and be seen, and many of them were in a buying mood. I arrived on a Saturday morning, and my luggage joined me the following Tuesday. I had to burn my underwear, unfortunately, which led to a loss of revenue as I wasn’t able to put them up for sale on eBay.


From San Diego, I flew directly to Las Vegas for the World of Concrete show, a massive affair filled with some of the biggest toys for boys available on the market. Initial estimates revealed that attendance was down about 25 per cent from the previous WoC, but the quality of those attendees was high. From Vegas, I flew home for a quick stopover before jetting off to the exotic locale of Moncton for the second CRA show of the year. Now the fun was about to begin.

Trade shows, byy definition, are usually an intrusive and painful experience for most of us suppliers. We spend a long time preparing, more hours travelling, sleep in strange beds and pass many days on our feet with a smile plastered on our face. This is work, and hard work at that. But Moncton…well, this is a show I would never miss. Olivia and JR D’Eon greeted me with warmth and down-home kindness, then quickly told me that they weren’t going to be buying from me. Again. With that bit of business out of the way, I began preparing myself for the upcoming evening’s festivities. They began at the official dinner, beautifully catered (as usual) while a local musician serenaded us with songs from yesteryear. The night ended at a local watering hole, the Rockin’ Rodeo, where “Jiggy” Jay Williams and “Busta-Move” Max Desmeules proved to us that white men really can’t dance. When I grow up, I want to be a cowboy. Yee-haa.

The ARA Show was next on the hit parade, and this time the destination was the peach of the south, Atlanta, Ga. I believe their motto is “Where Good Times Go To Die.” While the city itself is nothing to write home about, the show usually is. Sadly, with attendance down by around 50 per cent, this was not the event it usually is. Still, the attendees were there to buy, and many suppliers felt they had had a successful show. The highlight though, as usual, was the CRA reception held on Tuesday night at the Hilton. Hosted by our Queen, Her Royal Majesty Mandy “Off With His Head” Maeren, this annual party is a truly Canadian one, featuring a bathtub full of beer and Bloody Caesars. Once again, yours truly was recruited to be the guest bartender, and I was kept very busy for three hours. While the bar was well stocked in the beginning, by
mid-evening everyone was getting white rum and Coke, no matter what they ordered. The large suite was packed wall-to-wall with giddy Canucks, and a fabulous time was had by all until the first complaints about noise started coming in.

For me, that’s what these shows are really all about: the people. Prospects, customers, fellow suppliers, competitors, association members…friends. Priceless memories of giant men pretending to be jealous boyfriends thereby making my partner JP tinkle in his undergarments, snippets of scintillating conversations such as the one that HED rep Jeff Wallace had with a local female:

Her: “I hate wrestling, it’s just so fake.”

Jeff: “Um, I’m a wrestler.”

Her: “Oh, I am SO sorry.”

Jeff: “You don’t need to apologize…”

Her: “No, no, I’m sorry you’re a wrestler.”

So many memories, not many printable but all of them very fond. This is what I will miss when the trade-show season once again comes to an end. I won’t miss spending 22 hours on a three-hour flight, and I won’t miss hotel ventilation units that sound as if a train is driving through them every 20 minutes…but I will miss all of you. Until next year.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what the title of this article actually means…well, what happens in Moncton, stays in Moncton. ■

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