Amelia propped her feet on the dash from the bucket seat of the truck. She folded her arms from a shiver and wrapped her blue cardigan tighter as the truck came alive with a rumble. Theresa let the engine reach idle before putting it into gear. They’re headed to New York from Boston after the third leg of their ten stop marketing event roadshow traveling west on the Mass Pike.

Just a few thousand feet down the highway, they lost the top of the 16 foot trailer to an overpass. Peeled off like a can of sardines.

Lesson number one from the event from hell: Hire a professional driver or simply know to read the height clearance signs posted on the highway.  

Shaken but unscathed after the accident, Amelia and Theresa were stranded on the side of the road with thousands of dollars of sound equipment, computers, and other materials they needed for the next event in just one week. After a police report, calls into the insurance company and the office, they were back on the road with all of their materials in a new truck.

Lesson number two: Know who’s got you covered, but don’t over pay for insurance.

Theresa and Amelia arrived in New York with six days to spare before the event thinking nothing else could possibly go wrong, right? The very next day, Hurricane Sandy hit New York. While it devastated Long Island, much of Manhattan came alive again in just a couple of days. In typical New York fashion, show producers decided the show must go on. Theresa and Amelia headed to the Jacob Javitis Center to set up their booth along with all the other exhibitors.

While Theresa and Amelia traveled with all of their expensive equipment, they have their booth shipped from show to show because it is considerably less expensive to do that than to have it shipped home, stored for a short while between shows and then shipped out again.

Lesson number three: While it is cheaper to ship directly between events, the show’s sponsors still have to store your booth until the venue is open for setup.

While all the materials actually got to the Javitis Center, a lot of it was in bad shape. Wood pieces of the booth were water logged, fabric table drapes were stained, you name it, it didn’t look good. Theresa and Amelia poured sweat, tears, and lots of trips to Home Depot to get the booth looking professional and presentable again. But, if you looked closely, you could still see things like rippled panel doors from water damage and signage with smudges here and there.

Attendees flooded the trade show floor before the paint was completely dry on their booth, but everyone understood. If anything, it was the thing that drew more people into their booth to ask how they managed to get this up when it had clearly been affected by Sandy.

Lesson number four: Natural disasters happen. You can’t plan for them, you can only react.

The rest of the show went off without a hitch. They had to purchase new pieces of their booth for the next show and put in another claim with the insurance company, but the event from hell turned out okay.

Final lesson: It always turns out okay.

… Onto Chicago!