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.