Bret Snider BackStory February 2022

Las Vegas, the Destination and the Professional

For over five years I ran a manufacturing company in the United States. We produced epoxy coatings for floors, walls and other surfaces and the products were and are still fantastic. The company was and is small but has big companies buying our range of products because they last for years and can take a lot of abuse. Closing a manufacturing plant to coat the floors is not a decision made lightly so there must be a compelling reason.

For several years I had to go down to Las Vegas because that was where the “World of Concrete” conference was held. If it sounds boring multiply that by ten. From their website: WHO ATTENDS WOC? More than 60,000 industry professionals from all around the world, representing all segments of the construction industry: Commercial Contractors, Concrete Contractors, Concrete Pumpers, Construction Managers, Dealers/Distributors, Decorative Concrete Contractors, Designers and Specifiers, General Contractors, Block/Segmental Unit Producers, Masonry Contractors, Architects, Engineers, Block Producers, Ready Mix Producers, Rental Equipment Centers, Repair Contractors, Residential Contractors, Specialty Concrete Contractors, Precast, Pipe and Block Producers, Precast/Prestressed Producers, and more”. Wow. Who could not have fun at such a conference?

I’m certain from the description your heart must be beating at this point. So, we have two elements coming together here, the “World of Concrete” and Las Vegas which is, to my mind, one of the most shallow and vacuous places on the planet. A city, originally attractive owing to its artesian wells in a desert environment on a railway path between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles – so basically a watering hole. And then re-founded and recast as a different kind of watering hole with the energy of the mafia and the addition of casinos, focussed on ways to take your money with flash, glitter, sex, and nonsense. A city where in every hotel what you hear all day long is “Ding, Ding, Ding.” To provide the elusion that people are enjoying themselves and winning. While I’m not a teetotaller, it’s not my cup of it and I don’t care for the place.

I stayed at the Sahara Hotel which is nice enough to be a distraction from Las Vegas. Every day I was there I took my breakfast in my room and watched the 24-hour news cycle peddling their pap – the news of the minute. But there was also a distraction outside the hotel. It was a very well-endowed woman wearing white high-heeled leather boots with a very short red skirt and pasties and was always surrounded by a heard of guys having their picture taken with her.

I was curious and approached her one day after lunch back on route to the conference. I noticed that she also had a huge wad of cash in her hand. I said hello and asked her what she was promoting. “Nothing, I’m a destination. Guys just want to be photographed with me. I’ve been doing this for a while and they know I’m here. It only costs $100 dollars. Interested?” It took about two seconds to shut my mouth and said, “No thank you.” Which was also the amount of time the word divorce entered my pointy little Canadian head. She was a destination where I could not go.

The last time I was there I had figured out how to maximize my time and the utility of my stay – lots of meetings with potential customers and suppliers. By Friday at 5:00 PM when the show ended all I wanted to do was shut down my booth, pack up my stuff, grab a bite to eat and get my sorry butt to the airport to head home. I went to the McCarran International Airport with two and a half hours before my flight which was more than enough time to check in, drop off my luggage, grab a bite to eat and hop on my return flight home.

I went into one of the bars, ordered a glass of wine and a sandwich. Halfway through the wine and sandwich a woman sat beside me. She was drop-dead gorgeous. She had light brown, shoulder length hair, an amazing body and was wearing a green dress that left absolutely nothing to the imagination.

I didn’t know what to do so I just kept finishing my lunch staring ahead at the TV. There were six stools at the bar, and I was sitting on the end. The others were all empty and so her sitting beside me made absolutely no sense to me. Women like that, I’m sure, get hit on a lot so this didn’t add up. Then she said “Hi. How are you?” I looked at her and then the bartender who immediately turned and walked away.

“I’m fine thank you but a little tired”. “Why are you tired?” “Well, I just finished working a weeklong trade show.” “Oh, let me guess, the World of Concrete?” “Yes.” “How did it go for you?” “It was okay but not something that’s likely to make much of a difference for the company.” “Where is the company located?” “We manufacture in Chicago. Most of the ownership is in Ontario, but I live in Toronto.” She smiled and said, “I’ve never been there but have heard great things about it.”

I then asked her if she had attended the show. She nodded and said she had. “Are you in sales?” “She smiled and said she was and that she had a very loyal customer base. I asked her if she was in the industry. She smiled again and said she was in a related industry.

For the next hour we had a wide-ranging conversation about American and international politics, history, religion, and family. I was amazed at how deep her knowledge was. It was very refreshing to talk to someone with that intellectual capacity. After about an hour when I had finished my wine and sandwich, she said “Why don’t we both order another glass of wine?” I nodded to the bartender who quickly obliged and then, as quickly, retreated again.

Then she asked me a question while putting her hand on my arm. “I have a tattoo and am thinking about getting another. What are your thoughts?” None was present that I could see, and I didn’t want to ask her where it was. “Do I have a vote.” She smiled and said, “You do.” “Well, your very attractive and I think a tattoo may, over time, detract from that. So, my vote would be no.” “You know you are of the most interesting men I have ever met.” I thanked her and said, “Perhaps you need to meet more men.” “No, I don’t.”

About twenty minutes later I glanced at my watch and realized that I should probably head for the gate. I said “I’ll take care of this. Thank you for making my day. It has been an absolute pleasure. I’m just going to excuse myself to freshen up for a minute before heading to my gate.”

When I returned to the bar she was gone. I asked the bartender for my bill, and he responded “Sir it’s been taken care of. Your lady friend paid your bill.” “Pardon, my lady friend?” “Sir, she’s a regular and a professional. And, Sir, for what it’s worth, she has never paid a bill before.” I stood there, wallet in hand trying to process what had just happened. “Sir, she’s a professional.”

I picked up my carry-on and my jacket and shoved my credit back into my wallet. On the way out I noticed her with a guy who looked like a gorilla in shoes. She smiled and winked at me. Oh… “A professional.” I got it.

When I arrived back home my lovely wife asked how the show went. I looked at her for a second and said – “You know… Las Vegas.” We left it at that. I smiled and thought (Las Vegas, the Destination and the Professional).