Who’s the Boss

Oh, hi there. I kindof disappeared for a bit didn’t I? Rest assured, I was not mugged, nor did I get lost. I was, however, hassled by the mob.

It’s fairly well known ’round these parts that the Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre labor department is pretty much run by the mafia. And I’m not even joking. It’s not wiseguys walking around in Armani suits or anything – but these guys are definitely connected. You do not mess with them, or the system.

They are the exclusive (and I mean exclusive) supplier of shipping, handling, construction and electrical labor in the building. You play by their rules.

You do not touch anything. You do not “take away” their jobs. This includes repairing shoddy workmanship and plugging in your own lights/tv’s (again, not kidding).

For the most part it’s ok – you sit around your pile of half-assembled structure and crates and wait a lot for things to be done. It’s pretty standard that any one of a number of laborers will show up with a work order, look at it, look at your stuff say “I gotta go get a tool/part” and disappear for 2 hours.

But, with a huge heaping helping of patience, I persevered and our booth was constructed relatively competently and in plenty of time for us to get ready for the show opening. Another company with a setup near us wasn’t so lucky – they had shipping troubles, and when their booth arrived late, they tried to expedite things by starting construction themselves. They were then blacklisted by the labor who refused to put up their booth and also wouldn’t let them (these guys are masters of intimidation) do it themselves.

Eventually, after the foremen decided the offending exhibitor had suffered enough, they constructed the booth in just the nick of time. The exhibitor was finally firing up their laptops (one of the few things you can do yourself) when the show floor opened.

Anyhow, we figured we were out of the woods, and had our booth ready to go. Then our video guys showed up to capture some footage of our in-booth demos. And they pulled out some extension cords and got ready to plug in their floodlights.

And that’s when fucking Tony Soprano shows up. “Whoaaahh you? Whadduyuh think ya dooin’? WHOOSE YO’ BAWSSS?”


We unplugged and put away the lights posthaste and apologized profusely. And that was pretty much the end of that. If we’d wanted the lights, it was made abundantly clear that we’d have to order a contractor to plug in the extension cords. They didn’t say what would happen if we’d refused to take things down – but none of us were interested in finding out.

So we shot our video on battery, sans extra lighting.

And ever since, I’ve had an unshakeable urge to watch the Godfather.

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3 thoughts on “Who’s the Boss

  1. Derek K. Miller

    This is why I’m glad I haven’t had to set up a tradeshow in many, many years. I’m surprised that the people who run the Javits Center and the tradeshows themselves put up with that stuff. I guess anyone who’s ever tried to set up a competing non-intimidating convention space probably got run out of town, or worse.

    Does famously mobsterish Las Vegas have a similar problem for CES etc.? If not, is that why so many conventions go there?

  2. colleen

    Yeah, you SO don’t wanna f*ck with the NYC boys. Seriously. I was just there and had dinner at a Hell’s Kitchen Italian place – the chef came out and talked with us and he’s one of those boys. took me out for wine, cool, but not only did I feel protected but also, like… don’t misstep on this one. Everywhere we went, our bills (biggish) were COVERED. talk about wow.

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