I can’t tell you how many preliminary reviews I got about Utah.
Most of them involving race. “Jose, just you being there will significantly increase the population of Black and Latino males there.” After all, Utah has a reputation for a lack of diversity. Some often jokes how Karl Malone and Bryon Russell were the only 2 Black folk in the entire state, and of course I laughed. Outside of the Jazz and their strong Mormon population, I didn’t really know anything about that state.
And I messed up.
I can’t tell whether it was just because the NCTM conference was such a big deal for the city or because I was just happy to be out of town, but Utah was thoroughly impressive. From beginning to end, I would have to rate it a 9 out of 10 in terms of the overall experience. For one, the hotel was awesome. Chase Suite Hotel was great. Complimentary breakfast, free wireless Internet in the main hall, and a suite with a whole living room, a penthouse set up, and individual bathrooms were just some of the highlights of that service. The people manning their stations were extra-cordial. Of course, we had a couple of snags here and there, but the good definitely outweighed the bad.
A restaurant I discovered there was The Training Table. I didn’t know that Utah was big on burgers until I got there. My group walked in, and we just sat there looking at what we assumed to be waitresses, but they wouldn’t move. Then there was this mysterious telephone in our booth. We picked it up, and just told the person on the other side our orders. About 15 minutes later, the phone beeped back at us, and we were a little startled. It was our food, and we had to go get it from the counter. Weird. But it was goooood. That burger was so nice, I had to get some twice. Mmm mmm mmm. Plus, when at my behest, we went back, that root beer float hit me lovely.
The convention itself was good, too, but I won’t get into that until tomorrow (Ed Post Tuesdays). What I will say is that the shuttles were on-time, and willing to stop wherever you needed them to. Even the last shuttle we took let us stop at different spots to take pictures of the scenery. As a matter of fact, I practically have my whole trip on camera. Peep it.
I’m telling you, people, if I actually knew someone out there, I’d be tempted to go back. Maybe.
But don’t think I’m in a hurry to try and move over there. It’s a nice place to visit, but I need that little buzz in my ear, the raw energy, and the everyday hustle-and-bustle of home. Just to tell you the kind of people I was working with there, though, we went to the Olive Garden and as we were sitting down, I was putting some stuff away in another chair. As I was doing that, I told the waitress that she could put down the menus, and she said,
“I can’t do that until the gentleman sits down.”
I blinked, looked around, and said, “Oh my goodness! I love UTAH!”
I must have been hungry or something. Or maybe it was just that awesome. Yeah, I think it’s the latter. Thanks for the hospitality, Utah.
jose, whose back almost went out from all the items he took away from the convention …
p.s. – Yes, that is Malcolm Gladwell in the first picture. And no, that’s not a wig on his head.