Today marks one whole week since I got up at 4:30am, packed an overnight knapsack, stowed my children with Mum and Dad, picked up my good friend and fellow Expo novice, Lynda, and got dropped at the airport by my Beloved Husband. We were both excited and maybe even a little scared. We did not really know what we were in for, but thanks to the introductory emails the night before, we were already overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Expo. As we sat drinking our caffeine hits of choice, our bleary eyes happened upon a sight I thought only happened in Richard Branson advertisements. The Virgin Flight Attendant stride.
That’s right, small groups of 2 or 3 Virgin hosties, moving about the airport. How is it that at 6:30 in the morning these women can look so fresh, and walk like that? And make no mistake, I have seen it with my own eyes, the women in the funky old world uniforms really do walk like the ones on the ad! They walk with purpose, they walk with grace, and the people around them actually move to give them space. At the time I did not recognise it for what it was.
We arrived safely in Sydney (what an exciting town!) dropped our gear at the hotel and made our way to the Convention Centre. Darling Harbour was decked out in Christmas Decorations. We were given our identifying documents, scanned, and eventually stepped into the Expo.
The hall was filled with clothing and beautiful material samples..and lots of noise. Not raucous noise…lots of wheeling and dealing. After six exhausting hours we called it a day. It seemed a very long walk back to our hotel, but eventually we made it, and rewarded ourselves with a hot cup of tea and a lie down – it took quite a while to recuperate!
By Day Two we were rehydrated, refreshed and ready to go again. We marched back down through Darling Harbour to the Convention Centre, got scanned in again, and steeled ourselves for further “sourcing” adventures. We gave out and accepted countless business cards, and tentatively discussed options.
We left the Expo feeling exhausted but pleased. Back to Mascot Airport for a pre flight celebratory glass of white wine. And thats where we saw them again – the Virgin stewardesses (such an olde worlde name). Still with that incredible poise, the stride that commands you to stop what you are doing and observe as they pass by. And interestingly, although at the time I thought these ladies looked beautiful, I cannot now even recall what colour hair any of them had; and I think that is because they actually looked like busy, but effective women – perhaps that is what I admired?
Eventually we stepped off the plane in Brisbane and back to our wonderful families. It is always lovely to go on an adventure, but wonderful to return home to sleep in your own bed again.
So what did I learn at the Expo? Mostly that it is hard to communicate through interpreters. But at the airport I learned that self confidence and a sense of purpose will make everyone stop and take notice.