expat anecdote from a few weeks ago

In May or late April some expat friends and I went to the “magic pueblo” of Tepozlán, where the Vice Mexico Pool Party was being held. We weren’t on the guest list, but unlike when the Vice Pool Party is at swanky city hotels, in Tepozlán no one really cares. So we went, and there were a bunch of other foreigners there, because it’s Vice.

The party was cool. One of the girls I went with was being super sociable, I guess she is always like that apparently, and made some new friends and kind of went off with them. At one point I ran into them at the (open) bar and started talking with the person who was closest to me in their group, this tall blond dude. Stupid stuff. I think I asked him where he was from, and he tells me he is South African. That he is in mining.

Background on me: I am a trade consultant who helps Canadian exporters enter the Mexican market. It may not look like it, but I actually am really interested in, and know quite a bit about, mining.

Imagine that, at the Vice Pool Party of all places. “REALLY? What company do you work for?” So, actually, I am ready to start asking him a million questions. “Is your company South African?”

He kind of is quiet. Then,”I’m actually French. I work for an international trade publication.”

“Okay…” I think, switching gears slightly, and then just throw out there, “Is it Business News Americas?”

Yes, yes it is.

“That’s great! I read you guys a lot for my job.”

Dude is not really into this conversation, I notice. He seems kind of annoyed that we seem to have something in common. Or, I guess, that we have enough in common that I totally caught him in his dumb lie. No matter. He is going through the motions anyway. He asks me about my job, asks me for my card. I give it to him and continue jabbering.

“You know, are you guys ever looking for freelance writers? I write market reports and trade updates and stuff all the time for work.”

Okay now he wants the conversation to end. I get it, I guess I am being schmoozy. French people probably hate that. Whatever, he’s the one that brought up mining at a Vice Party. What does he expect. He gives me “a sure, yeah, great” as he turns away. He doesn’t give me his card.

Fast forward to early June, ExpoHidraulica 2012, Centro Banamex, where I am representing Ontario water process technology exporters. My company and I had been worried that this particular day I would end up working the stand alone, so my boss had told me to go ahead and ask one of my friends along to help out. I had asked a friend who had recently lost her job, an expat, in fact the expat friend who had gone off and made friends at the Vice Pool Party.

She and I are shooting the shit at the Ontario Water Sector stand, and all of a sudden these two dudes come up. One is a Scrappy Doo-ish brown-haired guy and the other is tall and blond. They know my friend, and are kind of blown away to see her at ExpoHidraulica. And she is surprised to see them, but she realizes they are there for work, of course. She then explains why she is there, that she is helping me out, which is kind of my cue to explain what I do. The guys then seem to conclude they ought to ask me for my card, which makes me realize that, being foreign yet also living here, they are probably somehow involved in international trade, too.

I give them each my card, still talking, and then notice that the tall guy has a weird look on his face. Although he clearly has no idea how, he tells me that he already has my card, that we have met before. And then it clicks, of course!

“Yeah, we met at the Vice Party.” The smaller dude, an American, turns in amazement to the tall guy, whom I later learn is the boss. And I continue talking as the memory comes back. “You told me you worked for Gold Corp.”

Not totally accurate, but in my head it was a solid enough connection. The tall guy, who I now remember is French, sort of mumbles about how he had had a bit to drink. His colleague wants to say something but doesn’t. Then they talk briefly about something else before saying they would stop back by before they left. Neither of them gives me their card.

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