Work can take you strange places

Afternoon meetings tend to go off on tangents, and today was no exception. J was in my office, and I started talking about blogging — yesterday’s post about Tulip, in particular. Turns out both of us have had work-related adult store experiences.

Right out of college, J was working for a large daily newspaper in the promotions department. One of the advertisers was some sort of multi-floor Sex Megastore, complete with women on poles. Part of her job was to tag along with that account’s rep on sales calls, which she said was always strange because all of the girls knew the rep’s name and gushed over him.

Mine didn’t involve actually setting foot in a store.

My first job out of college was with the county extension service, running the 4-H program. It was summer, and the first few weeks of my job were full of county fair preparations, including distribution of the Fair Book, which detailed all of the entry categories. While some county fairs are big to-dos with carnivals, tractor pulls and rodeos, our particular fair was pretty much all 4-H. So as 4-H agent, I helped compile and publish the Fair Book, and the content was completely within the control of the Fair Board and myself.

That year there was an uproar in the surrounding counties, as a “fly-by-night” dude was going around selling advertising to various local businesses, pirating the “official” fair book, and then putting the content and ads into a tabloid size newspaper format, which he distributed for free in gas stations and other local joints. The kicker was that he never published all of the Fair Book content — only the amount of content supported by the number of ads sold.

All of the 4-H agents and Fair Boards were complaining about him, yet despite their warnings to him over the past three years, he continued to strike.

I’d been on the job a grand total of three weeks when our county’s edition hit newsstands. A complete greenhorn, I had no idea this scam had been going on, and my first reaction was to laugh out loud when the Ag Agent delivered a copy to me at my desk. I clearly remember the yellow background with black type saying “County Fair”, with a visual of a ferris wheel. And I’ll never forget the 1/3 page ad at the bottom of the front page for Priscilla’s (“where fun and fantasy meet”) — the multi-location adult toy store in a neighboring city.

He glared at me, clearly perplexed at how I could laugh at such a SERIOUS matter. I immediately mustered a concerned look.

Pretty soon my phone started ringing, with crazed parents wondering how this scammer could strike again, with such an OUTRAGEOUS and IMMORAL ad on the front of a publication meant for families! I acted deeply concerned, and then began drafting a letter to the editors of the five local newspapers in the county, giving our side of the story.

(While giggling) I wrote about the disgrace this man had brought to a family activity, the fact that we were taking serious actions to stop him from destroying the values of our youth, and the hope that they would spread the word to their local businesses that this man was evil.

Then I got a call from the local TV station for my one and only ever TV interview.

Though the reporter didn’t know me personally, I had been in a “Make It With Wool” sewing competition with her sister, so we had 4-H as common ground. On the day we were setting up for the fair, she brought a camera crew to the fairgrounds, and I found the most religious 4-H family in the county to be interviewed on air with me.

So once the piece ran, news was all over the state, and 4-H agents were coming out of the woodwork telling me of their similar experiences. The state 4-H office called, and we shrewdly figured out his legal offense: 4-H trademark infringement. The state and the USDA drafted letters to him, and we attempted to get in touch with him by phone. But by that time he was halfway to Timbuktu.

We never heard from him again. And eventually I went to Priscilla’s to see what all the hoopla was about.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Andrea said,

    Hey,

    Checked out the entertaining site, and am enjoying! Thanks for sharing. Oh the memories of the extension world. You just never know when the press will help you promote the laundry adventures. You know, this brings to mind my pig incident in the neighboring county. The daily newspaper had an adventure with that in the Sunday edition! Well, happy blogging. Someday I may join you, as I just purchased lap top and now am officially online at home!


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