This is my entry to this month’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC28). True to form, I submit this right before the deadline, which is tonight at midnight.
I started this blog back in January, 2012 and since then my following has steadily grown. Perhaps as a result, I have been invited on a few press trips this year (Oregon, Mezzacorona [Italy], and Provence [France]). All three of the trips had several aspects in common: they were well run, I met a slew of great people, and they provided plenty of fodder for this blog (yes, there are stories coming—I promise!). Yet none of that really surprised me all that much.
There was, however, one commonality that did surprise the heck out of me. On each of the three trips, at least two of the other journalists approached me and asked (with very little deviation):
“Have all your press trips been this fun?”
At first, I took this as an ego boost despite the fact that there are few people on this planet that would argue that such a leg-up were warranted, much less needed.
When I realized that my interlocutor was indeed serious, I would respond eloquently:
That would be followed by a somewhat lengthy explanation that previous press trips had been marred by one (or more) attendees that made the entire experience intolerable for the others on the trip. They never mentioned any names (and I didn’t ask), but from the discussion that followed, it was clear that it was more than a mere clash of personalities or isolated incidents. It seemed that everyone on each of the trips (bar one, who, like me, had never experienced a “bad” press trip) had their own version(s) of the nightmare scenario.
These accounts were supported by the Public Relations people on the trip as well, who unfortunately seemed to have witnessed several such trips. Once again, this prompted my ever-poignant retort:
While I was assured that this happened far more regularly than anyone would like to admit, I was dumbfounded.
It is rather simple: the trips (for the most part) are free. That is they cost the participants nothing. I guess I can’t emphasize this point enough: the financial outlay on the part of the participants is nada, zilch, zip, diddly squat.
I understand that I am in an enviable position—I have a “real job” and I am married to a woman who also has a well-paying job so I am not going on press trips as a way to make a living. I can not say for certain, but I believe (almost) all of the others on the three trips derived most (all?) of their income from their writing, so the stakes are much higher for them, but the over-riding phrase that was used to describe those individuals who made previous press trips unbearable was: “a sense of entitlement.”
And that was the aspect that I could not comprehend: entitled to what exactly?
The transgressions were apparently varied. They ranged from demanding copious amounts of free wine, having a long list of special accommodations, being habitually late, and perhaps worst of all, just being irascible, petulant, even down right mean.
Apparently, this type of behavior is not limited to press trips, either, as subsequently I have heard stories of such boorish behavior at one-off wine tastings and dinners.
Maybe I have too simplistic of a view, but all of these events are centered around a beverage.
On top of that, it is a beverage that, for the most part, is supposed to bring pleasure to the person who consumes it. It is not an element that is necessary for survival (unless, of course, you have children), it is intended to add some level of enjoyment to life. How people can get upset, cantankerous, or even slightly unpleasant, much less loathsome in such an environment is beyond my level of comprehension.
I have one more press trip on the horizon in a couple of weeks and I am sure that it will be a fun trip—and I hope that I find several more stories to share here. I have to admit that a small part of me (albeit a very small part) hopes that there is a press trip “deplorable” on the trip for two reasons: 1. I would like to see why he (or she) was so unhappy and 2. I would like to try to make him (or her) smile.
I don’t think that is too much to ask.