Sometimes people's attempts to be funny fall flat. We've all been there. Just ask Steve Martin about his Toyota joke at the Oscars the other night - nary a giggle. Sometimes a joke is just not funny, even when it is meant to be.
And sometimes a joke is just downright creepy and frightening.
I was at a show a couple of months ago and having a lovely conversation with a visitor who was asking relevant questions about one of the vehicles on display. His cell phone rang and he excused himself to answer it, but did not step away.
His end of the conversation:
"I'm talking to the girl at the auto show. No, I haven't taken her out to the parking lot. Yet."
Yup, color me totally freaked out. I'm sure it was a joke (I hope it was a joke), but in my line of work, that kind of "joke" is scary.
Here's what we need you guys to understand. We're women traveling alone. Yes, sometimes there are men with us, but there are generally more women than men and I've worked plenty of shows with no male counterparts in attendance on my team. We're staying in strange hotels in strange cities with which we're not very familiar. The closest thing we have to bodyguards are the dealer staff who sometimes work the show and can be more odd than the visitors. The crack security teams in these places are a joke -- half are gray-haired grandpas and the other half aren't paying any attention to us because they are stoned. Now, I took a self-defense class and I know how to stay aware of my surroundings, etc., but still, if someone really wants to grab you, he can find a way.
One of the main booth babe talent agencies stopped using a certain hotel in Detroit because one of the girls was attacked on a supposedly secure floor. Yes, things like this can happen anywhere, but hotel management refused to heighten security by checking room keys before allowing elevator access. That move cost them about $100,000 a year in bookings, I'd estimate.
I'm hearing that another booth babe was drugged at the hotel bar in Detroit this year. Luckily her friends were keeping a close eye on each other and were able to take care of her before the guy slipped her out.
So please understand, your insensitive jokes about kidnapping us are not funny. If you are making us uncomfortable, we don't have to talk to you.