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Thursday,  March 21 12:01 AM EDT

The Las Vegas Diaries

By Nolan Curtis

The company sprung for the big technology convention in Las Vegas this year (again). But this time, I got to go instead of Wade from the call center. Wade* (allegedly) got drunk on the company card last year, and my dreams of ever going to the technology convention all but died when I heard. However, rather than penalizing the rest of the department, management in their infinite wisdom (where has it been all this time?!) decided to choose someone else to go.

I kinda figured Melissa**, the one that always flirts with the manager, was locked-in for getting the plane tickets and hotel stay, but somehow the honor fell to me (I only ever flirted with the manager once, and that was an experimental phase I went through).

So anyway, last Friday I flew down to Nevada for the convention. I could go on about the spoiled rich kids in the airplane seats in front of me, who asked daddy if they were driving the 'cedes to grammy's, but that's a whole other story (look for the article titled Nolan Curtis Hates Precocious Rich Kids, Real Soon Now®). I grabbed a taxi from the airport to the luxurious Comfort Inn Suites on the edge of town (making sure to tip the driver well, but not above the recommended Employee Handbook guidelines), and from there to the casino/hotel/buffet/convention center.

This was my first trip to Las Vegas, so I could go on about the $5.99 prime rib, and the tourists that dress like idiots, but this article is about the convention (and I was wearing a "Wrath of Khan" T-shirt at the time).

The layout of the convention allowed for people from the casino/hotel to wade through the tables. These non-technical guests were easy to spot since they didn't have lime-green name-tags stating what company they worked for, and they always asked questions like "So, what's this gadget do?" and "Can this get the web on it?" I also suspect that if you wear a cowboy hat, you might have to sign some kind of contract promising to refer to everything with buttons as a "gadget."

My story revolves around a casual conversation I got caught up in with an older couple visiting from some state I'd never heard of. Much like when I visit Best Buy and people assume I work there, this couple had assumed that I had intimate knowledge with a 128-bit security fob that synchronizes with a remote server every minute using a complex mathematical algorithm (they assumed correctly, but this is beside the point). They were amiable enough, and I might have liked them if they didn't indirectly insult me and cause me to loathe everything about them within the span of our short conversation.

I don't know how we got on the conversation of reality television, because if I anticipated it, I might have feigned a grand mal seizure or tried to poke out the tourists eyes with a nearby wireless keyboard. They were so wrapped up in talk of The Bachelor and American Idol and When Lawn Tractors Attack, that I didn't even need to be in the conversation. The entirety of their evenings --even here on vacation in Las Vegas-- centered on the television. In hopes of derailing the conversation, I mentioned that I don't watch much TV anymore.

Hilda and Wallace (or whatever their names were) acted as though I had physically struck them (and the thought to do so had crossed my mind several times). They couldn't fathom that I'd never seen The Amazing Race or Fear Factor. "How do you spend your time?" Hilda asked me, clearly nearing the edge of an aneurysm.

"I surf the web, chat with friends, play online games." I said, trying to use simple terms.

Wallace interrupted, "Oh we have a nephew that does the web. As soon as he gets home from school, the first thing he does is log on to that damn thing. Spends all day in his room on that computer." It was clear that Wallace in no way approved of such behavior, and if this nephew were his son, I imagine he'd have welts from the whoopin' he'd get.

"Oh, it's pathetic" Hilda added, not realizing that she had just indirectly insulted me.

I can see where it might seem a little sad that any of us spend that much time in front of a computer, but hearing it from these slaves to television was like 10,000 spoons when all I need is a knife (or any sharp stabbing instrument). It's not like they're watching Discovery, Animal Planet, or the Spice channel... anything notably worthwhile. They're turning off their brains to watch hive-mind programming that would insult most people. I suppose I could feel sorry for them, but I'm far too full of hate to attempt that.
Instead I asked them if they'd checked out the American Idol online voting web page. Being the helpful pathetic geek that I am, I even wrote the address down for them:

I'm hope their nephew appreciates what I've done for him.


*Wade's name has been changed from Martin to protect the innocent.
**Melissa's name is really Melissa. She's not so innocent. Melissa, if you're reading this, I'm on to you.

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