Despite what some people might think, I know I lead kind of a charmed life getting paid to go cover a trade show with little to no journalistic integrity to uphold. After all, not everyone gets to go to CES, and a lot of the people that do actually have to work hard, like the folks from the business arm of Woot who spend all day wheeling and dealing with various contacts to secure all kinds of exciting new
crap products for you to buy from us. Despite all the glitz, glamour, and groaning CES is, at its core, a chance to network. Sales are made, deals are closed, and contracts are signed because people are out pitching to anyone who'll listen.
Even a guy who makes no business decisions whatsoever and has a hard time explaining what his business even does...
The three of us writers are always on the prowl at CES for the latest gizmo that might be interesting, but we also spend a lot of time taking pictures of stuff that we're just going to make fun of. The people selling it don't have to know that, and I try not to rub it in their face, but it's also common courtesy to talk to somebody who approaches you, especially when they're getting paid to try their spiel on as many people as possible. Usually my failure to explain what Woot does beyond "I was in a video wearing a dog suit" makes it pretty clear I'm not the decision maker, but sometimes a determined floor rep just won't give up.
Like the aggressive woman with the Eastern European name who tried luring the three Woot Writers to a huge booth advertising some sort of corporate solution involving American Express. "Gentlemen," she beamed, "do you own your own business?" Uh, what?
"No," we all responded in unison. She was undeterred.
"Well, do you make the spending decisions for your business?"
Again, "No." "I can't be trusted with a company credit card without recording receipts every month," I added.
"Ah, so you get reimbursed, so you ARE trusted with the decisions." Tricky She-Devil!
"Uh, well, sure. I guess." Her smile was as stiff and prolonged as her eye contact. I could already feel myself on the slow, inexorable slide toward her trying to sell me something. I wondered if Matt Rutledge would be very mad if I came back from CES and announced I'd signed the company up for a new AmEx account.
"What's your monthly expense?" I decided to roll with it.
"No," Jason Toon intervened before I could waste any more of her time, "he means more like $15."
"Oh." Her smile immediately dropped. "So you guys don't spend anything?"
"Not really. Thanks for your time, though."
"Yeah. Thanks for yours." She was already off to find her next pitch victim. I felt a strange mixture of relief at being out from under her hard sell and shame at how quickly she'd moved on.
Luckily for me, I would get plenty of more practice at awkward conversations on the convention floor.