By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
At first I thought someone had squirted a water gun at the Prerogative and Bluefield Daily Telegraph booth at last weekend’s Women’s Expo. Or maybe there was a leak in the roof. My pink T-shirt felt wet on the side. I looked around but didn’t see any of the usual suspects, sneaky kids or practical jokers. Puzzled I glanced over and saw my boss Samantha Perry with her hands full of hand sanitizer and a guilty look on her face. In an effort to pump a few drops in her hand, Samantha had managed to coat us both with hand sanitizer. The pump was clogged and the force sent antibacterial gel flying in all directions. I joked at least we were germ-free journalists. We giggled like a pair of 13-year-olds. It wasn’t that funny, but considering our expo past, it was the highlight of our Friday morning.
Samantha and I have a history at the women’s expo at the Brushfork Armory. Last year, we sent cotton candy flying through the air at the women’s expo. Both of us underestimated the machine and the pink stuff floated in the armory like little clouds. We took turns picking cotton candy out of our hair that year. I believe it was a unanimous decision to leave the cotton candy to the carnivals and outside fairs. I thought we would be mess-free last weekend. But I never imagined an attack of hand sanitizer. I watched her out of the corner of my eye for the rest of the morning.
Many people rushed through the booths, nodding politely and accepting free newspapers and magazines. A few stopped to chat, recognizing us from the paper. This is my favorite part of the expo — meeting the readers. I love to talk to folks who read this column week after week. Sometimes it is hard to put a face on a reader. I know my friends and family will take the time to read. But who else is pulling out their Sunday Lifestyles and drinking their coffee? One woman nearly brought tears to my eyes at the women’s expo. She said she was a reader and so was her mother before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Our conversation in the middle of a loud and noisy armory warmed my soul. It was also a good reminder about how words can impact a person, even when we don’t know them, or their lives. I could also hear Samantha talking to readers as well. Editor-turned-local celebrity, she had been featured on the Investigation Discovery network show “Sins and Secrets.” Many of her former high school classmates and Bluefield Daily Telegraph readers watched the episode earlier that week. Too bad those readers and old friends missed the hand sanitizer explosion. The rest of the day and Saturday went smoothly.
On Saturday night, I packed up the hand sanitizer and what few pens remained on the table. I collected all the extra magazines and newspapers. My feet hurt from standing and my throat felt scratchy from talking so much. I felt exhausted, but happy. It’s the feeling you get from smiling too much at a party or on graduation day. I left satisfied. New readers went home clutching magazines and newspapers. Some had their pictures taken and became a Prerogative cover model for a day. They each went their separate ways, taking a piece of the Telegraph to their homes in Mercer and surrounding counties. The expo is always an adventure at the Telegraph. We try to find new and different ways to reach out to our readers. Our first impression is our product; the expo is a second impression, a chance to meet our readers. But its not all work; it is fun too. Throughout the years, Samantha and I have proved the expo to be fun and entertaining. Even if we are the only ones laughing at our min- adventures. It makes one wonder what the year 2013 will bring to our booth at the Brushfork Armory. I can only imagine. Stay tuned.
Jamie Parsell is the lifestyle editor at the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at BDTParsell.