I got a funny call the other day. The guy says, “I’m John Ellis and I’m with NHK Japan TV.” I wasn’t actually positive what he had said, but undeterred I answered with my standard, “Great, what can I do for you?”
He said, “We’re here doing a story on the legalization of marijuana and would you be willing to do an interview?” My first thought was “Why me?” On the advice of our crack public relations team, WordenPR, I always try to make myself available to the press. So was this a result of that? Or did they have more classified information about my youth, qualifying me as somewhat of an expert on this subject? I wasn’t totally sure of myself (still not recognizing exactly who I was speaking with), but my PR instincts took over and for better or for worse, I said, “Sure, why not?” Any press is good press, right?
“By the way, where’d you get MY name?”
“Oh, we went to the Chamber of Commerce and they said we don’t want to deal with it … call LeVine.”
Excellent … probably not the youth thing.
About twenty minutes later John shows up at the Antlers with Mami, a lovely twenty-something-year-old interpreter/interviewer and Taka, the camera guy. They set up shop in the lobby and proceed to spend the next half hour asking me how I anticipate our business to be effected by the passage of Amendment 64.
It’s clear to me (being the quick study that I am) that they’re looking for a story and want me to say that I expect to be overrun with pot-heads rushing to Colorado to get high. Or that our regular guests will quit coming altogether because of their own personal intolerance. Or that our staff will be so stoned that we won’t actually be able to get anything done.
Naturally, I say nothing of the sort, and tell them repeatedly what I believe to be the truth … that I don’t really foresee much, if any, impact at all.
They seemed a bit surprised when I acknowledged that we already have guests (and probably more than a few) who get high behind closed doors. Since the new law still doesn’t allow toking in public, that won’t really change. We certainly expect our guests to respect the “non-smoking” designation of some condos, regardless of the specifics, and we’ll continue to enforce that. As far as employees go, our staff is very conscientious and I have every confidence that they won’t allow what they do on their personal time, to affect their work performance. It’s no different than drinking. Liquor’s legal, but being even a teeny but tipsy at work is totally taboo … not to mention an immediate invitation to look for other job opportunities.
Over and over, in as many different ways as I could think of, I kept saying that legalization just wasn’t a big deal, and wouldn’t really have much effect on our business.
I suspect they were a little disappointed at the lack of a story. Oh well … Sorry.
There was one amusing sidebar to the whole thing. When John first introduced me to Mami, I was kidding around with her (what a surprise) and said, “I’ll be happy to do this interview, but I need some consulting help on how to increase our Japanese market.” She played along and agreed, in her somewhat broken English. John asked if we had much Japanese business and I said yes, some, but not nearly enough.
Just then, a Colorado Mountain Express van pulls up to the door and a young couple gets out, ready to check-in. You guessed it … they’re Japanese. I turned to Mami and exclaimed, “I can’t believe how FAST you work! You’re hired!” I think she was amused … but probably not as much as I was. I crack myself up sometimes.
When we explained to the arriving couple that this was NHK, their reaction made me appreciate the parallel to our own PBS broadcasting system. We’re talking Japanese national public television. This is a big deal. I hope I looked okay in the interview and as usual, didn’t say anything TOO dumb.