About 20 years ago I was on the board of directors of a computer software users group. We were planning our annual convention to be held in Orlando, and took a trip down to meet with the hotel and negotiate our contract. We had flown in from all over the country the night before and had a brunch meeting with the convention and catering manager.
We all placed our beverage orders and he said “well let’s get down to business”. Our treasurer, a gal from NYC said “I’ll warn you, we play hardball.” He had squeezed the seven of us into a booth with him. He and I were facing each other up against the wall–each blocked in by three people. I pulled out my leather portfolio, intending to take notes. I placed the portfolio on the table in front of me, opened it and pulled out a 10 inch butcher knife. I then waved it in the air and started laughing hysterically.
I suppose what made it worse for him was that the other board members knew me, and knew there must be a great story behind this, so THEY all started laughing uproariously too. So this poor guy is trapped in a booth by a bunch of strangers laughing like maniacs, and the one directly across from him is brandishing a huge knife. He did his best to crawl under the seat cushions while turning a true whiter shade of pale.
We got a hell of a deal on the catering.
How I got there.
Months before, my husband and I had gone on a trip to Hawaii. We brought back a box of pineapples and I took them in to work, along with the butcher knife to slice them. I threw away the remains of the pineapples in the carrying box I used. That left me in a secure government facility with a big knife to carry out. I couldn’t put it in a bag, because it would slice right through. I didn’t think walking past the guards holding it in my hand was a good idea either. I searched around my office and found one of the many leather portfolios I had. Conferences used to give the portfolios out with notepads in them. I tucked the knife securely in the inside pocket and carried it home–where I promptly forgot about it.
As I was preparing to leave for the trip to Florida, I realized I would need something to take notes on. I scavenged through my home office and grabbed a leather portfolio, intending to make an outline for the meeting while on the plane. The bridge on the way to the airport was being repaved, so there was only one lane traffic, and a big waiting line. My little orange Porsche did not do well sitting idling. It overheated and died. I missed one whole cycle of people crossing while I tried to restart it. The traffic manager helped me roll it onto the median and told me before to turn on the heater–that it would draw the heat out of the engine and help cool it down.
I was at the front of the line for the next crossing and the traffic manager said he would hold the others back for a few minutes so I could roll down the approach–since my baby was a stick shift, he said that would start it. It was August and the 914 had no A/C. So there I sat in my black broomstick skirt, red and black checkerboard muscle shirt, black and red spiral earrings and red sandals, getting sweatier by the minute as the heater blasted full out. The coasting trick worked, but now I was REALLY late.
So I rushed into the parking lot, late for my flight, and running through the airport. At the last minute the portfolio would not fit in the side pocket of my carry-on, so I stuffed it in my checked luggage and then ran for the x-ray machine.
Can you imagine what would have happened if I had run up to the guards, dressed in rocker chic, all frantic and sweaty, and put that knife thru the baggage X-ray?
All of that was going through my head as I sat there in the booth and stared at the knife. It took a while for me to catch my breath and explain what had happened to the rest of the gang. The hotel manager had to excuse himself for a while. We were all still laughing when he came back (I think he had to change his pants). I wonder if he ever got over the shock–he was jumpy the whole time we were there (even when we came back months later for the actual convention).
It was not quite over. I had a side trip planned to see my brother, on a small plane that had no baggage check–you just stowed the bags under the plane yourself. It was one of my good knives and I didn’t want to lose it, so I had to mail it back to myself. The gang said that in the future I could do ALL their negotiating.