IT Employment

Work travel: Culture shock


This is my third and last blog about work travel. For those of you who don't know, I went to Las Vegas last week for an ITIL conference. Here are my previous reports on the experience:

I'd like now to talk about the mental strain of just being in a different place. I can't imagine what emotional turmoil people traveling out of their home countries have to experience -- I was just traveling across the United States and my brain cells were stretched to the limit. Keep in mind, though, my final destination was...

Las Vegas

I expected the lights and the glitz of Vegas. I even knew that I would see people in the hotel casino at 7 in the morning walking around with cocktails in their hands and no money in their wallets. I'm just thankful I was staying in a luxury hotel, and not some lean-to motel off the strip where I'd be exposed to some of the seedier forms of life.

But here's the deal. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought I was going to be strolling through some glamorous casino and would bump into a celebrity. OK, OK, I thought I'd find George Clooney at a roulette table. Are you happy now?

But do you know who my sole celebrity encounter was? Dog, the Bounty Hunter. Dog, in all his day-glo, power-mullet glory. Wow. That's something you almost don't even want to mention. It was nothing more than a hey-howya-doin' nod to him and his wife in an elevator, but just surreal enough for the memory to last me a lifetime. Maybe if I'd stayed longer, I'd have run into Hulk Hogan.

You know what they used to say about Vegas being a cheap place to eat and drink as long as you were gambling? Not true. The cheapest buffet I found was $30 per person. I guess they've had to kick things up a notch to pay the electric bill for all the jumbo-trons up and down the strip.

My second evening in town, I set out to find a reasonably priced restaurant on the strip. This is where I discovered that every three feet there was a shady looking character handing out what looked to be trading cards for prostitutes. And I mean they handed these cards to everyone. A woman walking alone, a family of six, you name it. They'd hand one to your kid in a stroller if you don't roll him past fast enough.

Then you've got the come-ons from people offering you a free show ticket in exchange for checking out a time-share opportunity. Yeah, after six hours of flying in a fetal position, the thing I really want to do is listen to a sales presentation. I actually saw people slow down to hear these people out. I wanted to shout, "Run Forrest run!"

Let's hear from those of you who've found yourself in alien territory on a business trip.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

10 comments
dawgit
dawgit

I don't think that exists for me anymore. Clean is always nice. Food that might not make you sick is good. A place to sleep with-out bugs or snakes is super. (Lizzards are ok though.) And most important, Nobody's shooting in my direction. That's a great trip. -d

AnonyUser
AnonyUser

It's a personal bias, and I'm fully aware of this, but I will never attend a conference or convention in Vegas, no matter the subject or attendees. Nor will I ever attend a formal and/or mandatory business meeting in a bar or strip club. I've never been to Vegas, I never intend to go to Vegas. I think it's ludicrous that conventions in Technology and Network Comms are held there. If a meeting or convention were held in the Red Light district of Amsterdam, even if it was in a five star hotel, I'd have the same viewpoint. People go to brothels for a reason, and people go to Vegas for a reason. And I don't feel those reasons are ever work related, unless you're in the sex or gambling industries (either servicing or purchasing). Having conventions like that in Vegas is a sleazy way to beef up attendance. After all, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". Eugh.

rovamt
rovamt

Spoken like a typical extremist who establishes rules based on what other people tell them or what they have heard. They are never doing this or never doing that because they are better than everyone else ? because they have moral standards. Unfortunately like many people will tell you, who have actually reached out beyond the hype. Las Vegas is the most exciting city on earth because it has something for everyone. From the most conservative Christian family that just wants to hike and fish in some of the most beautiful canyons in the world to the person who wants to go wild and crazy for the weekend. Your lose is in your arrogance and for someone in the IT world, having a closed mind is the first sign of a short career.

AnonyUser
AnonyUser

Well, I appreciate what people have said here about all that Vegas has to offer - much of it, I simply didn't know about. I understand that it can hold a lot for a lot of people. I'm not sure I'm one of them. And Rovamt, I (personally) think an extremist approach would be to try and block people from going to Vegas, to call Vegas 'THE DEVIL', and work to get the plug pulled. I try to live and let live. But I make choices for myself as well - I don't try and impose those choices on others, but they're still my choices, and they're based on the information (or perception) I have at the time. Not always perfect, but it's helped me get this far. I think a conference on converged networks in the enterprise infrastructure would be just as out of place at Epcot Center or Six Flags, but that's just me. I don't consider that a closed mind, but rather a personal preference. And I believe my career is going quite strong, but I'll take your opinion into consideration, and thank you for sharing. And thanks to everyone else who chipped in and vouched for Vegas being more than a giant casino and nightclub. It really did help me change my view about it.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Lake Mead - Huge lake you can do almost any watersport your interested in. Red Rock country - Beautiful, there's a park there with petroglyphs thousands of years old. Hiking - The opportunities abound all around. From elevations near 1100 ft to 10000 ft above sea level within a couple of hours drive Motorcycling - this is some great country to go for a cruise (in your car also) Generally I go where my boss sends me, Vegas, Philly, Downtown LA (Now there's a scary place!), Disneyworld. Personally Disneyworld made me feel the most like a prisoner than anywhere else. My fault, I should have rented a car on my own.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

"sex or gambling industries " There's alot mroe to Vegas than sex and gabling, though gambling is undeniably the draw. Sex and brothels are everywhere, no matter if they are called brothels, massage parlours, exscort agencies, gentlemans clubs or McDonalds. Vegas has some great sights, the Hilton has some cool stuff for trekkies, the Borg Invasion and another live Star Trek show (reenactment) much like Universal Studios. There are great evening shows with all the old stars you thought were dead now. Thrill Rides everywhere, includng on top of hotels, high speed go cart circuits, etc. Last I went was for a music convention, the guy I went with doesn't drink, doesn't gamble and I don't know that he's ever got lucky with the ladies, but he had an absolute blast! The hotel pool was a riot in itself, as well as the people we met. We played a round of golf, did the Hoover Dam tour, tripped through Madam Tussauds wax museum, not as good as London, UK or the one in Victoria, BC that her daughter did but still pretty impressive, the Venetian is a pretty entertaining spot, lots to do there. In fact, Vegas has as many attractions as Disneyland, and is really keyed up for kids too. It just depends on where you look and what you take tim eot see, you can spend weeks there without putting a nickle in a slot machine or a double duty condom on your John Thomas. I think you are just speaking from the hype and history of the more sordid side of Vegas, things have changed there over the last 20 years that's for sure!

rovamt
rovamt

OK - I am road warrior of sorts and I can relate to a lot of what you are talking about. Your posts were most refreshing. I particularly hate the Flight Attendants that hog the microphone. On the culture issue. I don't normally travel internationally but last week I was in Mexico City and this week I am in Tokyo -- BTW I am a Canadian who lives in Florida now. In my 10 years of being a road warrior I have never been so stressed. Between trying to figure out what day it is or what they are offering me to eat. I am so confussed. I had a horrible trip to Mexico -- missed my connection on the way in and on the way out -- spent less than 20 hours at home before getting on the plane which included a 14 hour leg in coach from Atlanta to Tokyo. I know about 10 Spanish words and the same number in Japan -- the basics "good day, "thank you" etc. When I landed in Japan I kept wanting to respond in Spanish because that is what I was doing the week before -- I love my job and wouldn't be able to go back to the cubicle life again. The stress of travel sometimes gets to us all. Hope you got what you were expecting from the ITIL conference -- nothing worse than traveling somewhere and not achieving the objective. '

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I lived in Vegas for three years in the mid-70's, when my mother once shared an elevator with Bill Cosby. I returned for a week in '03. My wife and I ate at least five different buffets and never paid more than $10.95. Most of them were under $9.00. There were all off the Strip at second-tier but hotels. At least you were on the company tab. Like DisneyWorld, newbies to Vegas should either do a bunch of web research or go with an experienced veteran.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

So many places in the world like that though. It seems the hype and the travel brochures never include the street urchins and hookers (maybe they should). Having pretty much circled the world I have learned to take it as a cultural experience and therefore am prepared for some culture shock, in fact I welcome it now. It is amazing just how different people are, even within the same country. I like to get into the REAL life when I move around and not just the places found on the cover of the brochures. When I used to travel with bands it was always an interesting experience, often we'd find the closest hotel to the venue was a dive, but the people were real. Nothing worse than travelling across the country and the people in the hotel lobby and bar are from the same town as you, no point in going at that point. When we were in RIO supporting Rock in Rio, I was at a local BW (not like the BW's we get here but actually a nice one). Sitting in the bar waiting for a bass player to get out of bed (it was mid afternoon)I met some people from Surrey BC. Surrey is the armpit of BC's lower Mainland, our local toilet, where our hookers and crack dealers reside. A high end household is one with TWO cars on blocks in the driveway. I thought about the people who were paying thousands to be there on holiday, I couldn't imagine my disappointment if I had forked out a few grand to get away, only to end up with the lowest form of local riff raff around my home town. So bring on the wierd foods, bring on the strange customs, bring on the differences between us all, that's what makes the world real for me. EDIT: I forgot to add my 'big star' sighting. Since touring with bands, I've met some really neat musicians and teh actors/acrtesses they date. No, I am not in their top 5 for their calling plan though.:) I do remember as a kid, I went to Disneyland with teh parents and was all excited about going to Hollywood Blvd and Farmers Market etc. that's where all the big stars hang out with nothing to do but be seen in public for photo ops, right? The only person I saw all trip was Tom Bosely in Farmers Market. Well, Mr.C was okay but at that time, the Fonz or Richie would have been much cooler, ehhhhhhhh?