Sunday, March 04, 2007
Clients, Colleagues and Mutual Admiration
Thursday I arrived in Memphis later than expected. (See Ha-ha God Missed!) It worked fine for me, I didn’t have to set up the trade show booth!! One of the things I enjoy most about trade shows and conferences is seeing old friends, former and current clients, past and present industry colleagues. Sometimes I am invited to some pretty exclusive gatherings. I try to be discrete about where I’m going when I’m invited, because I cannot bring all my co-workers with me. (Nor would I want to have them trooping along.) Thursday evening I was invited to a cocktail party by the Sr. V.P. of the 3rd largest cotton merchant in the world/largest grain merchant in the world. Since I have the car, I invited my GM to attend with me, as I didn’t want him stranded in the hotel. Besides, I enjoy his company on these outings for numerous reasons: 1.) He’s smart overall 2.) He’s quite smart about the transactional side of our business, 3.) I want him recognized for his accomplishments and abilities. What’s not so cool is when the president of the company finds out I’ve been invited to these events. He always “jokingly” says “Behave yourself, you’ll be around important people, you know.” And I always want to say, “Well obviously I DO BEHAVE – or else I wouldn’t continue to be invited, right?!” The Cotton Museum in the Old Memphis Cotton Exchange was the location of the party. This is where cotton prices for each region and grade “back in the day”. It’s a great place to hold a party! I met up with about six old trading buddies, and we stood around telling the “Arizona stories”. At one point the VP and I walked outside to call Miss Betty in Arizona. Miss Betty is close to 90 years of age. She’s the “Cotton Mom”. All the young traders were sent to her office in Phoenix to be “schooled” on how the business was handled. In its heyday the Arizona crop was the 3rd largest crop in the US – following Texas and California. We all have a soft-spot in our hearts for her – even though she’s the toughest lady I’ve ever met. The scotch was good – but the food was standard “grocery store” catering. Vegetable sticks with ranch dip, chicken wings, peel-n-eat shrimp and bite-sized deli sandwiches. We left there about 7 o’clock and headed to the Peabody Bar. The Peabody is a grand ol’ dame of the hotel industry and a historical marker in Memphis and the cotton business. Everyone at some point ends up in the bar of the Peabody. At the Peabody we met a customer from Georgia, had a drink, then cut through the ally and entered the Rendezvous. The Rendezvous is another hallowed Memphis institution – this one to Memphis-style bar-b-que. They’re know for their no frills meals and some of the best dry-rub ribs in the country. Talking business over a cold beer and tender ribs is always congenial. We dropped our guest back off at the Peabody and headed for our own hotel. Typically accommodations are “spartan” when traveling. However – there’s a great Hyatt across the street from our Memphis offices where we get to stay. They’ve just gone through a major renovation – so I’m feeling like a queen as I sit in my pillow topped Queen-size bed – watching a 30” plasma HD TV. Friday was the first day of the trade show. Saw lots of customers, heard many compliments about the software, and people eager to know what the “new” thing will be for the coming season. I had lunch at the Flying Saucer with a client/friend. It was a great time of catching up and sharing. Returning to the show after lunch I encountered the “doldrums”. Foot traffic really slowed down – and it was just a matter of sitting around until 5 o’clock rolled around. Look out, I need a drink at Felicia Suzanne’s! This Memphis culinary star was the location for another cocktail party. While talking to clients we dinned on Fried Oysters with a Blackstrap Molasses reduction drizzle, Natchitoches (pronounced nak-a-dish) Meat Pies with a Horseradish Aioli and Cilantro drizzle, Deep Fried Gulf Shrimp on a stick, wrapped with fresh Basil leaves, Goat cheese and a cornbread crust, among other delights. Off our feet at Mr. B’s. We left Felicia’s about 7:30 and headed to Mid-town to meet backup with the Sr. VP, his wife and son, and the California Trader, for dinner. This tiny little restaurant, tucked away on the backside of a boutique mall is ALL New Orleans/Cajun inspired cooking. We had incredibly succulent oysters on the half-shell, fried dill pickles (not one of my favorites), and onion rings to start. Steak was the favorite entrée at our table and we all ordered the 9 oz. fillet – because who had room for the 20 oz strip or T-Bone? Saturday – back to the trade show. Saturday’s are painful. It’s mostly farmers and their families wandering through – we saw 6 customers in 6 hours. Lucky for me, the GM changed his flight to leave earlier – so we bugged out at 2:30 pm. I dropped him off at the airport and returned to the hotel for a nap and some downtime. Last night I met some customers from Arkansas and we went down to Hernando, Mississippi and dinned at one of my favorite restaurants, Timbeaux. It sits right on the town square of Hernando – and is cozy, relaxed and a nice escape from the crowds in Memphis. We had a lovely Saintsbury Pinot Noir, crab-stuffed mushrooms and the Cajun Crawfish Dip. I HATE 24, had the best entrée – the pecan encrusted catfish, I enjoyed my Cajun Grilled 14 oz Double Cut Pork Chop with fried onions and a creole cream sauce. Mr. Fish had the filet – and it was slightly over cooked, but he managed to clean his plate – with the exception of one bite. Post dinner found us heading back to Memphis where we battled traffic exiting from the Grizzlies game. I declined their lovely offer to sit on the balcony and watch the drunks on Beale Street and headed home. Brother Juniper’s for brunch. Now I’m gonna jump in the shower and head to this famous Memphis breakfast spot. Hope your Sunday is as relaxing as mine is turning out to be!