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Where Are These Six Guys In White Shirts And Ties Taking Me?

August 7, 2015

The city was Sau Paulo, Brazil. I was there on business, but had an extra day. My terrible Spanish failed to translate at all to Portuguese so I was unable to ask even the simplest question. Traveling for Microsoft, I normally tried to be extremely low key; no shirts with logos, neutral colors, no visible camera or jewelry. 

But, here I sat on a bus surrounded by Portuguese speakers, my Hawaiian shirt and camera around my neck practically screaming I’M A TOURIST. And I was surrounded by six guys in white shirts and ties. I honestly had no idea where we were going. Normally, I’d be at least a little worried. Not today. I was as calm as a guy taking a walk in the park. . .which might be one of the places we end up at. 

One of the best jobs I ever had was as a corporate trainer for Microsoft. I’d say it was the best job, except that some of my current and former bosses read this blog. No sense playing favorites. The job involved a lot of travel. And while many trips were to Charlotte, NC or Dallas, many of them were to places like Athens, Dubai, Mexico City and Sau Paulo. 

Two of my sons are getting ready to fly from Utah to Washington to spend a couple of weeks with their grandmother. One son hasn’t flown since he flew back with me from China when he was two. The other son has never flown. They are both very nervous. 

As flights go, Salt Lake City to Seattle is about as easy as it gets. It’s a straight flight and takes about 90 minutes. And we’ll be seeing them off in Salt Lake, my mother will meet them in Seattle. It’s pretty simple. And yet, if you’ve never done something, no matter how simple, it can be somewhat scary to downright terrifying. 

I honestly don’t remember a time before my first airplane trip. We moved a lot when I was a kid. I know in the second grade we flew back and forth to Alaska. That might have been my first trip. 

When I travel now, I don’t even look at my itinerary until I’m in the air. It’s become a routine. Even international travel, which I’ve done a fair amount of, is typically pretty straightforward. At least if you are travelling on a corporate expense account it is. That’s what made my Sau Paulo trip so unusual. . .and exciting. I was doing something out of the ordinary. 

My six bodyguards escorted me all over Sau Paulo. We went places that I’d never venture by myself. We rode busses from one side of the sprawling city to the other. I enjoyed the ride, knowing that if anything happened, my six companions were all fluent in Portuguese and capable of handling any situation that arose. 

I enjoyed the day more than I typically enjoy a day off in a foreign city. At noon I bought them all lunch. I offered to take them anywhere they wanted to go. They didn’t choose a Brazilian grill, or a fancy restaurant. They chose a Chinese buffet.

Who were these well dressed guardians? One of them was the son of my good friend. He along with four others of them were Mormon missionaries. The sixth was a local Mormon boy of 16. 

They are not your typical tourguides, but for one day in Brazil, it was fun to get to just play tourist. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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