30 July 2006

Viva (?) Las Vegas

Selling your soul to huge American financial-software makers has its bonuses. One of them is that, once a year, you get paid to travel to Las Vegas and chill out at a beach party.

The event I'm talking about is my employer's annual "Kick Off" week, where most of the company meet to celebrate the financial year-end results and charge up for the new year. Don't ask me why it's "traditionally" held in Vegas, I suppose it's a standard location for sales conferences. The chosen resort, Mandalay Bay, was plush without being too tacky; what about the "realistic" beach complemented by wave-generating pool, the Shark Reef, and the entertainment area including several posh restaurant and nightclubs. I spent Sunday roasting under Las Vegas' sun, a daiquiri in my hand while floating in one of the pools. I got completely wasted on Tuesday, dancing my life out to 4 AM. Life is hard, isn't it?

But hey, it wasn't just fun, it also was fun. I got to meet several key people, the ones we routinely disparage in our tech-support world (bloody developers and consultants) and the ones we constantly praise (thank god for Chris Barbieri, the most honest and passionate supportguy/consultant/developer/manager/advocate I've ever met). I got to speak my mind to people responsible for making things happen, and who knows, they might even listen. And the feeling of being recognised, the subtle vanity in hearing "so it's you!" before shaking hands, really was nice. In a "global" organization where you have constant contacts with people via impersonal media like email and web-based systems, sometimes it feels like nobody really cares about what you do, even if it's not the case.

I came back from Vegas (that, by the way, is more or less Disneyland + sex + gambling, extremely boring after a week) refreshed.... certainly not by the scorching-hot weather (who had this brilliant idea of creating cities in the desert anyway?), but by the passion and knowledge shown by "our" people, and by a new insight in the software I get to fix. American optimism really brushed on to me, I suppose. Now that I'm back to work, I wonder how long it will be before I go back to my usual Italian fatalism and disillusionment! :)

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