Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The conference

As part of my job, I'm generally required to attend classes or conferences on subject matters relevant to the work I do. Being in the IT field, this usually means some sort of Unix or Microsoft course, which means sitting in a cramped convention hall filled with nerds, all of whom are eager to show off their technical prowess and copious knowledge of all things electronic. It's like an Apple store with all of the style sucked out of it and socially uncomfortable sweating inserted in its place. Every conversation is quite literally a powder keg waiting to explode as each nerdling has some particular pet peeve that, if provoked, threatens to bore you to death.

Not surprisingly, these gatherings are almost exclusively attended by men. Those few women who are present are generally looked at in a creepy yet lustful manner, regardless of amount or color of body hair, bad skin or teeth, or unflattering social habits. A woman who would be considered a "3" among the normal populace is rocketed skyward in strata and is thrust into a position that she is not used to being in: that of the sex object. Heaven help the woman who is attractive at these conventions- likely she will have a gaggle of men following behind her like lost puppy dogs. The only parallel I could draw would be to a comic book convention, where the same thing occurs, except that everyone is wearing Boba Fett and anime costumes, which is not as bad, somehow. I would expect the attendees to overlap, actually.

Along with speakers droning on about how they managed to perform some technical miracle and how everyone should run their systems, there is also the vendor hall. There is no person more damned in this world than the technology vendor. They sit in a crowded stall replete with brochures and XXL t-shirts and try to sell their products to a group of people whose entire purpose is to brush them off and grab as much clothing in as little time as possible. The successful nerds have the entire process down to a science, and can be marked as those who have replenished their wardrobes for a year. Those unlucky vendors who have been cleaned out of their free goodies, be it a pen that lights up or some kind of whirling toy, might as well just pack up and go home, because they will be disdained by the surging, deoderant-less crowd. They might as well not exist, though one could make the argument that they have already made that wish.

This is not to say that all attendees are fat and greasy, their translucent pale skin wrapped in a jumbo-sized corporate t-shirt and threadworn, stained shorts. There are well-dressed, urbane IT people. There are IT people without social anxiety disorder. It's only the vast, vast majority that fit the stereotype. Therefore, if you enter a hotel and see that an IT conference is scheduled while you are going to stay there, your best bet is to turn and run- you may just be able to escape.


At 6:03 PM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Ah yes... I've been there amongst Nerddom, vying to get that oversized T-shirt with a brand logo that will never fit me, and smiling at nerdy types to get corporate memorabilia (yes, I'm a logo junkie).

Add the sleazy sales people, those who say "yes" to every question, and last but not least, the "IT people without social anxiety disorder", ie the consultancy firms and you may as well run for your life!

At 10:24 AM, Blogger jackt said...

haha your post is so funny and rings so true. I used to work in tech, and most of my wardrobe is still the logo'd stuff I picked up back then!

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Fitèna said...

LOL! So very true!!! My cousin works for Microsoft Africa. They had a prize giving ceremony and gala organised here in Mauritius and he invited us. We felt left out because they spoke a language we understood not! They didn't sell but gave out flowery shirts with microsoft discreetly sewed on the front pockets. They're awful to look at.
But there were a number of women though! But then, it wasn't a meeting!


At 3:04 AM, Blogger Karen Little said...

My gosh - it sounds awful. I thought a pile of supposedly distinguished doctors clubbing each other for free pens and sandwiches was the most humiliating thing I'd ever see, but maybe this is a bit worse...


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