It’s actually a suburb of São Paulo, Brazil. What kind of place is it? Well, smack in the middle of the ritziest area we operated a factory, (my former company did that is.) Somehow, this factory survived, in that spot, for years, until skyrocketing real estate prices made the land too valuable. So we sold it and moved further out in the hinterlands. I visited the factory in Alphaville many times, usually for a week of two at a time. I never visited after they moved the factory. I just had no desire to, and to be honest, I was in a position to go or not go where I wanted.
It was a privileged area, and unlike some places in the São Paulo, we felt safe. By contrast, at a high fashion mall in São Paulo, guards patrolled the perimeter wearing tactical gear and carrying automatic weapons. Inside the mall there was more security personnel than customers. No surprise given how upscale it was. Very few people, including us visitors from North America could afford to shop there.
Alphaville was a different story. People that made Alphaville their home, could probably afford to shop in that mall. There was a steady aerial parade of helicopters overhead ferrying people around: these people didn’t have to wait on the crowded highways. There were guards on the streets here as well; but they were in plainclothes, their weapons concealed, their manner cordial. Making eye contact would get you a polite nod. They wore nice suits and ties. This is the type of security that is designed to make you feel like you don’t really need security.
We often walked home from the factory in the dark. We could have called for a car, but to be honest, we felt safe. We just mingled with the crowds of other workers heading home to less affluent areas. The only difference was, they were heading for the bus stops and we were heading for our hotel.
About that hotel. It was a Radisson as I recall, and I stayed there a number of times. For a week, sometimes two at a time. But on one occasion I wound up being sick on arrival. A raging cold or maybe the flu since I was feverish. I was there for a couple of weeks and I wound up missing 3 days of work, sequestered in my hotel room. I remember episodes of CSI and Law and Order playing on the TV and of course Special Victims Unit. Every couple of hours I would venture down to the lobby and make a cup of tea at the little coffee bar they had there. The staff made sure to keep it stocked with tea that I liked. They offered to bring it to my room, but I preferred to make my own, since I am picky about my tea and I wanted to get up and about as well. Their concern was genuine and they offered to take me to a doctor if I needed it. They offered this every time I went down to the lobby. I loved them for this.
At night I had to eat, and a co-worker and I went around the corner to an Outback Steakhouse. It was close, and since all the beef they used was Argentinian it was the best Outback in the history of Outbacks. There were plenty of Brazilian Steakhouses and great restaurants in the area but my stomach was upset. I am sure my colleague would have loved to go somewhere else but she was nice enough to hang with me for four nights in a row at Outback. They had a nice Malbec on the menu, which we both drank every night. This perhaps was some consolation to her.
Finally, on day 5 of our trip I was completely back to normal and I was able to mix freely with our Brazilian colleagues and wander out to some of the many churrascarias in the area. There was also a great sushi restaurant not far from the hotel and a small supermarket stuffed with the most delicious grapes and oranges.
The occasion for this visit was a meeting with my direct reports from around South America. We had Peruvians, Columbians, Argentines and of course, Brazilians joining us. Most of them, women included were passionate about Football (soccer to us) and we were all excited to visit the national Football Museum in São Paulo. It was a big museum and took most of the day to see. As we moved closer to one exhibit and turned the corner to enter, we heard a funeral dirge playing. I thought that this was a somber memorial, for some sort of tragedy that must have befallen either a Brazilian squad or their fans. Indeed it was all of that, and more to the Brazilians. For in 1950, they lost, on home soil to an Uruguay team that they should have beaten.
They take their football seriously, these Brazilians.
I left the museum with a jersey of the oldest professional football club in São Paulo (Corinthians). I was just wondering what happened to that jersey and I remembered that I gave it to one of the grandkids who was into soccer. He was thrilled to have it.
It was a wonderful trip, despite the raging cold I fought through. As we headed back to the airport, we passed a multistory billboard featuring Giselle wearing only underwear.
She was facing a prison yard.
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