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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pharmacy Fair 2011

Every year, my biggest customer will hold a Pharmacy Fair and this year is no exception. Ever since I joined my present company in 2007, the venue for this yearly event has always been Le Meridien Hotel. So that was where I headed first thing this morning since I had to be there at 8am to set up our booth with Jason, my National Sales Manager and Luke, one of our Product Managers from the Marketing Department.

I hung out with Miss Psychedelic last night at Cafe Cartel in Plaza Singapore after work having drinks and chit-chat and we broke the promise of letting me go home by 9:30pm since we ended up with too many things to talk about, as usual.

I was supposed to get up at 5 in the morning to prepare to go to the Pharmacy Fair but I reached home during midnight. That got me worried that I might oversleep or something. By hook or by crook, I had to make it to the fair since the 2 managers accompanying me there this year would be attending a Pharmacy Fair for their very first time, so I had to take the lead with things there, especially with the interactions with my Pharmacist customers whom they are not familiar with.

So this morning, I found myself waking up at 6:30am (doh!) which meant I had to call a cab, since I had to take an hour to prepare myself. And since there was a traffic jam at PIE, I reached Meridien at 8:10. Bugger that, for that meant I couldn't have that morning cup of coffee I planned for at the coffee shop next to the hotel; something I do every year during the day of the event. Late birds don't get their caffeine fix and I willed myself to snap out of Zombie Mode and be on my toes. Couldn't afford to fuck up during the fair.

So I proceeded straight to the ballroom and bumped into Kimberly and Moh Wah, two of my Pharmacist customers who were in the organizing committee for this year and I handed to them the lucky draw prize sponsored by my company - a pair of Golden Village Gold Class movie tickets before proceeding to the booth allocated to my company.

Our booth
Jason was already there, he called me when he reached before I did when my cab was at the vicinity around the Istana and he has started displaying the props and product samples, so I hustled to do the same. Luke was still stuck at the PIE.

I saw A---, the Regional Manager for M------- whom I worked with before when my department helped his company with the distribution of their merchandise. His booth was just right next to mine. Nice to have extra company and he showed me the photos of his new China girlfriend on his phone. According to him, she's not his only girlfriend, he has like one girlfriend each in every continent he does business in. I guess some guys need love everywhere they go.

Later, Kenneth came to our ballroom since he was late and didn't wanna just barge into the ongoing talk next door. So he came to me and we chatted for a long time. I didn't see him ever since he got promoted to Area Manager from retail Pharmacist and catching up with him was swell and funny since we talked lots about married life and having kids (he got married sometime just before or after his promotion years back).

I teased him hard about why he's holding so long on having kids when he suddenly remembered that I have none too and teased me back. I was just waiting to see how long it took him to realize that while I was making fun of him and it was comical as heck.

Later at around 10am, the Pharmacists came out from the ballroom next to ours where they attended a talk and presentation event and they started filtering into the ballroom where us suppliers are stationed. One moment it was quiet and the next, you suddenly see them coming in in waves. This is always the moment during the fairs when I get into my 'Look Alive, Trooper' mode and snap to attention.

When they came to our booth, we handed them the goody bags we have prepared for them and handed a questionnaire for them to fill and passed them a piece of Golden Village movie ticket each, put nicely in their envelopes, which has always been very well-received with my customers. In fact, we have always been the only supplier that gives them the tickets.

But alas, it's just a pity that for this year, each of them received one ticket each instead of a pair. We have always given them a pair each year except for this time round and I'm still quite bitter about it and I've tried debating against the idea when it was first announced to me.

Suffice it to say, my department had a change of management and so, certain departmental modus operandi inevitably changed. I was told that we had to tighten our budget shoestring but at the same time, my company has undergone an expansion, moved to a much bigger premise, expanded in operations and logistics, won a SME award and just like the universe, apparently still expanding. Go figure. Still, we sponsored a pair of Golden Village Gold Class movie tickets as a lucky draw prize this year.

My manager told me that to make up for it, he would like me to organize lunches with my customers from the key outlets; on our company's expense of course. Honestly, it makes more sense to me to maintain the practice of giving my customers a pair of movie tickets each just because hardly anyone goes to the movies alone, rendering the whole thing rather half-hearted. Besides, I do go for lunches with my dear customers quite often anyway.

But still, I trust he has his valid reasons and our budget is probably really tight this year, considering that an expansion is not always a sure-shot guarantee that what is shown on the expenses versus revenue chart portrays a positive outlook on things, especially with the current world-wide economic situation which is expected to slide downwards towards the bleak side, if it hasn't started its way down the crapper already.

Anyway, following the booths visit and buffet breakfast (which I didn't eat since I was on diet and wasn't hungry anyway, next to the fact that I was feeling uncomfortably bloated for some reason), the lucky draw started and S.L., one of my favourite Pharmacists won the lucky draw prize my company sponsored and my heart leapt for joy for her when her name was announced. S.L. was funny, she later came and stood in front of my booth a few feet away, looked at me and using those big round pretty eyes of hers, gestured my attention towards those leftover movie tickets on the table in front of me.

She then walked over and asked me if she could exchange the lucky draw prize she won with 10 of those normal movie tickets. Smart enterprising girl. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that. Wish I could comply with her request though. So I supposed that she, not wanting to put me in a difficult position, flashed her pretty smile at me and waved me goodbye while saying 'bye bye' in such a sweet little-girl way. Libras have killer smiles indeed.

Later in the day, she and me WhatsApped each other and I took the opportunity to apologize and explain the situation to her since I was still feeling bad about it. In fact, even before the fair, I've already apologized to several of my customers whom I've had the chance to notify regarding the cut down in movie tickets this year. All of them took the news gracefully which made me feel even more guilty about it..

The fair ended around noon and Jason had to hustle off, so me and Luke loaded what was left of everything we brought over into his car before we split. I didn't inform Jason that for every fair I attended before this one, I was always given a pair of leftover movie tickets by every one of my past managers who attended the event with me. They themselves got a pair too as a reward for all the work. But since my customers received only one each this year, I didn't have the heart to request for any, so I kept my mouth shut about it.

For this year's fair, there were many new faces and I could no longer see lots of once-familiar faces I used to always see during the previous fairs. There is only a handful of old-timers left. People move on. On my part, I guess I'm the witness of this changing tide for all these years. Can't help but wonder if I'll move on too someday. A situation like this makes you wonder.

Until the next Pharmacy Fair next year. The next time you visit the Pharmacists, do treat them kindly, they are good folks.

And they like watching movies, I'm glad to say.

- De Lion Speaks

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