But of course there is. A free pen. A free cotton bag. A free jute carbon neutral bag. In fact, a free policy booklet that you hadn’t planned on reading in the first place.
Despite Scotland’s happy insistence on state schooling for the majority of its pupils, there’s clearly no such thing as a free education either, if you’re running an exhibition stand.
I was struck by the number of IT exhibitors whose products started at a couple of grand upwards. Struck equally by the teachers I spoke to who were enjoying the seminars and the buzz, but had no money really available to spend on their department.
Having just come back from two days on an exhibition stand, one thing that struck me particularly was the waste that comes with a large exhibition. I was heartened by seeing one company retrieve their quantities of bubble wrap, and rewrap the materials they brought, but they did seem to be an exception.
The talk, however, was free – and teachers enjoy a good talk, so there was plenty of chatting. After two seminars with very low numbers, I was pleased to be in one where a teacher name checked half a dozen opportunities my organisation offers, AND got that response we all long for: the immediate “Wow, how can I get some of that?” That’s the kind of response, from speaker and audience, that you can’t buy.
Thankfully, smiling is free. Encouraging teachers in celebrating their successes. But I discovered that saying thank you to the organisers, when leaving, was in fact priceless – one person in the site office commented “No one ever stops to say thank you…”
Results: one heart at ease; one pair of feet waiting to be freed from their shoes.