Natasha’s brother and sister-in-law sent us a package with a friend of theirs who was coming to London. We used to jump at the opportunity to send something with an occasional messenger across Russian borders in the early 90’s, when the Russian postal service was reliable in only one aspect – pilfering the contents of any package with a foreign address. But the situation improved markedly towards the end of that decade, and we started trusting postal services more.
Old habits die hard, though, and someone from our old quarters in Russia traveling to a general vicinity of our current residence is often viewed as a potential messenger. Just as would anyone making a trip in the opposite direction.
The logistics of catching up with such messenger on the receiving end vary in complexity, but almost always include an extra hassle for the addressee. When you know the messenger personally, it could even be fun. But most of the time that person is more or less a stranger.
This time around, our sister-in-law’s friend is coming to London for a trade show. There is no phone for her and not a hotel name. All that we were given were her name, the dates of the show (held at the ExCeL) and the name of the company she represents. The idea is that we’d find a way to go to the show and find her there.
Easier said than done. ExCeL is actually within reasonable driving distance from where we live, but Natasha would still have to spend half a day on this exercise. But that’s not all. This is a travel industry event, supposedly not open to the general public. A part of its schedule is by invitation only, while most of the time only registered industry professionals may attend.
“Registered” not as in “certified”. “Registered” as in “having gone through the process of registering for this event”. Online registration happens to be free. So, Natasha figures, who is to say that I am not a travel professional! I make plenty of travel arrangements all year around!
She clicks on the registration link, improvises a business name and, presto, receives an email containing her personalized show pass. She then proceeds to attend the show, checks out a considerable number of booths, and even returns home with a bag full of goodies, in addition to the package from her brother. She says she had to discuss the size of her business and the range of her clientele, and was offered special commission deals several times.
It could have been worse. A proctologist convention or something…