Thursday, February 08, 2007

vegas, part 1

So last week was the first of two trips to Vegas this month for John and I to shop for shoes for Fall/Winter 07. Although the current winter has really just gotten fully underway here in beautiful Kansas (let's be real - we're FREEZING OUR ARSES OFF here), it's already time to shop for shoes for next winter. The trip was challenging to say the least. It was our first time to have one of our children with us, which we knew would make things more difficult...and would make things take longer than usual...and would make us more tired than we usually are. All of that I was prepared for. What I wasn't prepared for was to be greeted by this on the 7th floor of the Venetian Hotel (the WSA trade show is in several locations, one of them being the Venetian):

"I'm sorry Ma'am. No kids allowed."

"We called before we came and got approval to bring him because he's a nursing infant under the age of one. They told us we just needed to sign a release of liability form."

"Can I see your form?"

"Well, I don't have one. When we checked in at registration no one said anything to us about needing a form."

"Then I'll need you to go to the 34th floor and get a signed form before I can admit you on this floor."

So Vance and I trekked up to the 34th floor while John went to an appointment with Camper. When I got there, I received some disturbing news from the woman in charge of this particular section of the show.

The long and short of it -- I was told that no children under 16 were allowed in the show and that the rule was printed on all the promotional material for the show. She didn't seem to care that I'd talked with someone at the 1-800 number who told me all I had to do was sign a release of liability form. She said there was no release of liability form, that whoever we talked with was mistaken and that she would lose her job if she allowed me to take my child into the show.

I asked her (nicely, of course) if she and the people in charge of the WSA show cared about small businesses. She responded, "Of course we do, small businesses are the backbone of this show." I proceeded to tell her that my husband and I owned a small shoe store, that we were the only buyers, and that we didn't travel all the way to Vegas with our 5-month-old son to be told that we weren't going to be able to attend the show. After about 10 minutes of going back-and-forth, I think she realized that I was not going to just quietly leave and that we were going to need to find a solution to our "problem." In the end, her staff found out that one of the exhibitors didn't show up, so they offered to give us a key to the room to use as a homebase: one of us could stay with our child while the other went to appointments with vendors and then we could switch off. It was far from ideal, but it appeared it was the only option they were going to give us. It pretty much defeated the entire purpose of our coming together -- to view the lines together, to get feedback from one another, to bounce ideas off one another and to be able to make decisions TOGETHER -- but we realized if we were going to get anything done on this trip we were going to have to make the best of it. The upside: Vance got to take naps on a bed instead of in a baby carrier on my back, which did make for a more peaceful trip under the circumstances.

Other things we learned from mishaps on this trip:
1. Waking up at 4:15am is not early enough for a 6:20am flight out of KCI. John and I have already flown twice recently with Vance and have thoroughly enjoyed the preboarding luxury given to parents of small children. Not this morning though as I think we were the last people on the plane. The upside: the flight was only half full, so even though we had to squeeze Vance and his car seat down the teeny-tiny aisle of the plane, we all got to sit together.

2. Going through airport security with young children -- specifically a baby -- is REALLY fun. I'm talking serious fun people. Not only do you get to perform all the typical exercises of airport security routine: making sure you remembered to remove the nail file from your purse, observing the 3-1-1 rule for liquids (for those of you who have not recently flown and are not up-to-speed on airline regulations all your liquids that are carried on board must now be 3 ounces or less in 1 bag that is 1 quart or less in size, and removing your shoes, but you also get the privilege of removing your adorable, sleeping (remember it's 6am) babe from it's car seat and sending both seat and stroller through the tiny X-ray machine while at the same time trying to perform the aforementioned rituals all in under 1 minute so as to KEEP THE LINE MOVING PLEASE. After getting Vance snuggled back in his car seat, I was feeling pretty good about how smoothly the airport screening had gone. While putting my shoes back on, I was jolted out of my smug reverie by a slight crash. I spun around to find that my son's car seat had fallen off the stroller WITH HIM IN IT. The upside: he wasn't hurt, only slightly disoriented. We hadn't even boarded the plane and this trip was already off to an exciting start.

3. Use caution when getting into an unfamiliar shower in a hotel or you could slip and fall on your arse. The upside: it made for some much-needed laughter after the day we'd had..."I'm sorry sir, you won't be able to bring that wheelchair into the show. No children under 16 are allowed and no adults under the age of 30 in a wheelchair."

4. When nursing your son, don't stand up too quickly to answer the door of the hotel room or you might pop a button off your dress that would make it difficult to walk around the rest of the day and people not to stare at parts of your body you don't want them staring at. The upside: suites in the Venetian Hotel come equipped with several amenities. My particular favorite this day: a sewing kit.

I'll share the trends for fall/winter 2007 in another post. Stay tuned for Vegas, Part 2 next week.