Lessons from the Cookie Nip Summer Tour
Well the Cookie Nip Summer Tour is complete and I while I could regale you with details of the celebrities we encountered, the amazing cakes we saw at the competitions, the new retailers and brand ambassadors we signed-on, or the friends we met who love our product, I know all you really want are the details of how Marc, Michelle and the Cookie Wagon veered off a carefully crafted lesson plan….I mean itinerary….and turned this road show into a traveling circus.
How Marc and Michelle crashed Dave Ramsey’s private event and were subsequently ejected from it by a bouncer named Pete.
In our defense, your Honor, we were riding through Nashville, minding our own business, talking about Dave Ramsey, when it occurred to us that we have a truck load of petit fours and we are the closest we have ever been to Dave Ramsey’s office. Since we were in no particular hurry, we entered the address for Ramsey Solutions in the GPS and it took us straight to an enormous executive office building with a beautifully manicured landscape. It was the exact type of place you would expect to find the King of Financial Peace conducting business. Regrettably, there was a note on the door that said, “We have Moved! Our new location is at this address!” So we did the only thing we could think of to do. Armed with gazelle intensity, we went to that address. Lucky for us, we went there and found hundreds of cars in the parking lot, a couple of tents, balloons and other things that suggested they were having an Open House to show off the new building, and show off they did! If we thought the last office building was impressive, this was the Taj Mahal of office complexes. The parking lot looked like stadium parking and there were several traffic circles on the road leading in so employees wouldn’t run over each other. The landscaping was so new it still had sticks and string holding the trees up and the building smelled like fresh paint and drywall.
We walked in and saw the caterers set up in a massive lobby reminiscent of a mega mall and the first thing we noticed is that they were not serving beans and rice. There was a lot of champagne being served and a DJ playing music while theatre size screens flashed pictures of the building project. We walked around the building admiring all the offices and displays and even sat behind Dave’s desk in his actual studio. About that time, we heard a very recognizable voice and the Lord sent Dave Ramsey himself out the door we were standing near. We introduced ourselves, complimented his fabulous building and while the box of petit fours was intended for some receptionist, Dave was just as good as anyone so we gave them to him. He looked rather confused but some whippersnapper graciously took them for him while we took pictures with Dave.
We were just about ready to get on the road when a very nice bouncer named Pete came up to us and explained that this was a private event for Dave’s team to see the new office complex and he asked how we got in there in the first place. We gently explained that we were invited by the directions on the front door of the old office building. Pete needn’t worry because we were leaving that place like it was scorched earth. We didn’t eat any of their food or drink any of their champagne but they still treated us better than we deserved. Both of us have very little experience crashing lovely events uninvited or getting kicked out but I am proud to say if I was going to do it, we did it right. We sent him an apology letter and our autographs from St. Louis.
2. Michelle creates panic from St. Louis to Macon by losing her eye drops that she needed the entire two weeks following cataract surgery.
Somewhere between Nashville and St. Louis, I lost my eye drops. I’m not talking about Visine either, I’m talking about 3 little bottles with about 2 ml in each bottle that cost over $96 with insurance. I looked in all my bags, the truck and the trailer, as did Marc and Meredith before conceding defeat. I finally called my eye doctor from St. Louis and politely asked if he could call me in more drops in St. Louis because I was so diligent about following the surgery protocol. Even though I was bothering him on a Saturday night, he was glad to do it. I gave him the number of a Walgreens right by the Convention Center and he told me to check the website for the drugs if I wanted a coupon. Being my mother’s daughter, OF COURSE, I want a coupon. Never mind that losing the first drops was like dropping a hundred-dollar bill in a fire.
After the show closed, I would have an hour to get to the pharmacy to pick up those drops. I called the pharmacist to make sure I had every piece of identification I needed because I was going to be on a tight time line. He informed me that my insurance declined those drops because it was too soon to fill it again. I breathed really slowly and told him to put in that the original drops were lost. He did. Declined again. I suggested that he enter that I was on vacation without my necessary medication. Declined again. I told him to forget that I had insurance and I would just pay for the drops because I had a coupon. He gave me the cash price for those drops and it was $398 for one and $256 for another. What he said after that I don’t remember because he sounded a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher trying to explain my health insurance limitations to me. I didn’t even get to the part about my $5 off coupon for each bottle.
Bothering my doctor for the third time on a Saturday night does not appeal to me. At. All. The pharmacy closed and while we all ate dinner, I contemplated just skipping the drops for the next two weeks but for the first time in over 20 years I could actually see and I did not want to risk messing up my newly acquired eyesight.
After getting up the nerve to call the doctor back and tell him I was declined at the pharmacy, he called another pharmacy, 26 miles away with an all night pharmacist on duty and gave him a number of options and told him to get me some drops. Marc and Meredith drove me 26 miles out of the way to get said drops and I walked out paying $26 with insurance. That reminds me, I need to take the doctor some petit fours when I go back for my check up after surgery.
3. How Marc and Michelle ended up in Car Jail with no truck, trailer, luggage, toothbrush or anywhere to store their stuff from the trade show or any way to get to Tupelo.
At the end of the summer tour, we were tired and ready to get on back to Georgia. On the last day, when it was time to break down the booths, Marc went to get the truck and trailer because at this particular venue, you could drive straight inside the convention center and load up in the Air Conditioning instead of at a hot, dirty, loading dock. He went to the place where we were parked (and before you ask, we were parked exactly where the conference organizers told us to) and there was no truck and no trailer. Knowing we left it right there, we immediately assumed we had been robbed and called the police. The Little Rock Po Po informed us that our truck and trailer (which was a few inches too wide had blocked the stinkin trolley) so it had been towed and impounded. They gently suggested that we could bail them out first thing Monday morning. That would not do. We were going to load up the trailer and get at least to Tupelo before stopping. I struck off looking for Marriot Security. I explained that we had already checked out of our hotel and some tow truck driver had stolen our vehicle and trailer and impounded them which meant we were officially in TIME OUT in Little Rock. He wanted to help me, he really did, but since we had stayed at the Hampton Inn because it was $50 cheaper per night, per room, not to mention FREE PARKING as opposed to $35 per vehicle, per day, there wasn’t much he could do for me. As many times as I have used petit fours as my currency, this time those delicious little morsels failed me.
So, while all the other vendors were shrink wrapping their shelves and packing their product into their trailers, we sat there like a couple of schmendricks trying to figure out how we could get our cookie wagon sprung out of car jail. Word spread quickly among the other vendors. “Hey did you hear what happened to Cookie Nip?” They were very generous and several of them offered for us to stay in their hotel room with them. Others offered to take our inventory somewhere but we had no where to take it. We had checked out of our hotel rooms that morning so all of our luggage was also in jail. We had no hotel accommodations for that night. We had no toothbrushes.
I had been feeding the convention center security and custodial staff petit four and cookie samples all weekend so I tried to get one of them to call someone on the Little Rock PD and get them to help us get out of town. The head of security was tall and skinny and completely unfazed by my attempts at bribery. He said, “Lady, you are going to be in Little Rock one more night!” I clutched my imaginary pearls.
A couple of our vendor friends (who stayed at the Marriot and still had a vehicle offered to take us to dinner with them). As much of a fan of Mexican food that I am, there is just not enough guacamole in the world to relieve the helplessness of being in a strange town without a truck and the cookie wagon and luggage and toothbrushes. The conference coordinators learned what had happened to Cookie Nip (because EVERYBODY was talking about it) and they had a luxury suite at the Marriot with “the whole downstairs vacant.” This was the first time I ever heard of a hotel suite with a master bed and bath upstairs and a living room, kitchen, wet bar, scenic view, bedroom and two more bathrooms downstairs. I typically stay where they leave the light on for you so I was kind of impressed with our accommodations. Since we had no place to go, we were happy to stay in the basement of the 24th floor of the Marriot, Little Rock. We were also thankful that it was free since we were going to have to post bail the next morning.
We were at the impound lot before it opened the next morning. There sat our truck and trailer among a whole bunch of other incorrigible vehicles. Did you know that if your vehicle goes to car jail, you have to prove ownership, insurance etc. just to claim your vehicle? Me neither. I guess it is a good thing that the first person there can’t just go shopping and pick out a nice Toyota Tundra and a lovely Cookie Nip trailer for the cost of bail. This was going to require some faxing between Macon and Little Rock before we could claim the truck. About this time we realized that we were going to need to pay bail for TWO vehicles since they had separated the truck and trailer. They also needed us to prove we owned the trailer because the fact that the two were attached to each other when they were hauled off was not good enough. Between the faxing, and the paperwork and the fines, the tow truck driver and the warden got all kinds of interested in Cookie Nip. Did we cuss at the people doing their jobs like everyone does on Lizard Lick Towing? No. We gave them bottles of Cookie Nip. We didn’t give them any petit fours and we don’t want to go back to Little Rock.
P.S. If you go out of town where they have trolley tracks and you have to park on the street, take all paperwork to prove you own the vehicle. It will save you time when you go to post bail.