Oman is Really Clean (And Other Stupid Things to Say)

Me and Shannon went to an "Ambassadors' forum" in Salt Lake City last week. Ambassadors from Tunisia, Oman, and Morocco addressed a room full of be-suited business folks on the subject of "business opportunities in the Arab world." You may be wondering why I went, seeing as how I possess little to no business acumen, am wholly uninterested in business, and have a hard time spelling "ambassador." I always want to spell it "ambassadore," because ambassadors are so cuddly (the trick is to remember that it ends like "matador" and "not like "You can't sue me for my long iron shot hitting you in the neck because I yelled 'fore.'"). In truth, I went because the event was free, and because I was kind of counting on there being a free meal afterward. There wasn't a free meal afterward, but to their credit the event organizers did splurge on some above-par hot chocolate, which was a pleasure to consume, and quality notepads, upon which it was a pleasure to draw gnomes jump-roping.

Fortunately no rabid Tea Partiers attacked the dudes in the Canada chairs.
A couple of good friends from my past lives happened to attend as well (I mean "past lives" in the metaphorical sense, not the Indian religion sense). This was both positive and negative. It was positive because I got to see old friends. It was negative because I was reduced to hitting them up for work ("So, listen, I bet you're tired of washing your boat. I will give you a smokin' deal on a boat wash. On a related note, can I borrow all the equipment necessary for me to wash your boat? It's kind of expensive for me to buy my own.")

Probably the biggest negative of the whole program was the 45 minutes they built in for networking. I'm not bellyaching that networking was an integral part of the program; that seems natural, seeing as how this was a gathering of business-minded folk looking to streamline workflows and pad their bottom lines. And bottoms, too, I guess. Who doesn't like a padded bottom? Besides Karen Carpenter.

I'm good with networking when the goal thereof fits my own. For instance, networking at career fairs is up my alley, because I need to find employers looking for my unique skill set (large nose, fluoride-stained front teeth, and uncanny hopscotch skills). But this event's brand of networking focused completely on linking businesses for the mutual and symbiotic benefit of both parties. Students didn't fit into the mix ("Hi! I'm Harvey. I own a company that provides forensics services for foreign governments." "Oh. I'm Abu Halen, aaaaaaaaand.... I don't really have a job right now. But have you ever been in a car accident and felt that your insurance company kind of stiffed you? If so, you need a lawyer, and I'm not really a lawyer yet.")

It was tempting to find a dark corner and suck my thumb while everyone else networked, but instead I gamely stood in line to speak to the Omani ambassador. Once I reached her, however, I realized I had nothing to actually say. So I welcomed her to America -- at least it's not like she lives here or anything -- and told her I heard Oman is really clean. Sometimes, my friends, the tongue isn't silver, it's lead.