I spent most of last week in Las Vegas at a software conference for the day job. I was trying to remember how many times I’ve visited the city; I’ve been to the same conference (or the related version anyway; the parent company for the host software has changed multiple times over the years) at least five times. Once as a customer, and at least four times as a partner. Julia and I also went there one time for pleasure . . . sort of. I was supposed to meet a guy who had said he was going to publish a book of mine, but he never showed (ultimately stopped returning emails and never published the book either). We managed to make a mini-vacation of it and had a good time anyway. I’ve stayed at the MGM Grand three times, the Venetian once, Circus, Circus once, and Treasure Island once. The conference this past week was at the Venetian, but we stayed at Treasure Island.
As a spectacle, Vegas is pretty amazing. I’ve never done any gambling there, but the people watching is unmatched. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time for that during these conferences, at least not as a partner/vendor. Typically I’d leave my room sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. I’d take the elevator down to the main floor of the hotel, walk around the outer edge of the casino to the main doors, then cross the strip via a raised bridge/walkway that got me into the Venetian. Then it was a hike through part of that casino, down a long hallway to the meeting areas where the conference sessions were taking place. As walks go, I’ve had worse ones at these conferences, but it was still probably close to 1/2 a mile.
After a quick breakfast, we — my co-worker Jill and I — would face a barrage of people for the rest of the day. Customers we’ve worked with for years, new customers, and meet-ups with big shots from the latest round of new owners (all but one of who was a total dick, frankly). We literally wouldn’t see the sun again until we left at 5:00 PM. Crossing back to the bridge in the afternoon, we’d get hit by the blinding sun and HEAT — it was 100 degrees when I arrived Monday afternoon, and never veered much below that except for during the morning hike. Still, I felt like I was bathed in sweat the entire time. After the first day my throat was raw from talking. But that day was only about 1/2 over at that point.
Without a doubt this is the part of my job I hate the most, and look forward to the least, attending this conference. Whether in Vegas or any of the other cities where it’s been hosted (Indianapolis, Denver, Orlando), it is pretty damn exhausting in a way I don’t care for. Lots of forced smiles for people I’d rather not share air with; it brings the worst of my attitude out, I admit. At the same time, it is the only opportunity I have to see any of my co-workers. So that part is okay. My boss (who is also president of the company I work for) was there until Wednesday morning. This was the first I’d seen him in over two years. I didn’t meet up with them Monday night, though I made a half-ass attempt to. Tuesday we all went out and had a great time. It was my boss, his wife, Jill, and me. We started out taking a cab way down the strip to Diablo’s Cantina, where we shared a bunch of appetizers and started in with the beer drinking. From there we started walking back up the strip, planning to get to our hotel. We could see it in the distance as we huffed and puffed along, though it never seemed to get closer.
“Whatever buzz I had is gone,” I told Jill after a lot of walking.
“I know,” she said. “We need to stop at Margaritaville.”
I have never been able to get out of Vegas with these people without enduring a couple hours standing at the rail at that gawdawful place (I hate Jimmy Buffett’s music). We made it there and spent another hour or two.
From there, it was on to Treasure Island, and another hour or so at Gilley’s, located just inside the door. Is there a whiter activity than country line dancing? I don’t think so (and no, I didn’t participate). By the time I made it back to my room, it was nearly 2:00 AM. We laughed a lot, had fun, and drank more beer than I care to think about, but it was worth it. It made Wednesday a little bit of a challenge, but that comes with the territory. At least I made it through the damn thing, and shouldn’t have to worry about it again for another 12-18 months. Phew!