Last year, most of the way through a build on some very new Internet infrastructure in Eastern Oregon, I heard about Brazil.
I wasn't supposed to hear about it. As a recent settler from some even larger infrastructure out in Northern Virginia, I'd finished signing my life away to the desert. I was expected to take my relocation money, settle down in a town of 1500, and presumably raise children with one hand and technicians with the other.
At that job, technicians have a use by date - you can only work 80 hour weeks saving the Internet so long. I say that with utmost seriousness. The perceived responsibility to your own corporate overlord and multiple masters starts to wear on you. The same mistakes start to weigh on you. Watching your coworkers put knives, drills, and fists through walls starts to weigh on you. So, if a technician doesn't come to the conclusion after two to three years that they'd rather be doing something less stressful (like dealing with corporate politics or perhaps playing Russian roulette), you get a certain amount of wary suspicion.
Worse, I was unexploded ordnance. But ordnance just useful enough to pass my knowledge, my tricks, and my PTSD on to the next generation of wide-eyed innocents in the machine. But then I had to go and hear about Brazil.
Jack was a contractor out of the corporate headquarters, a hired gun they hoped would make it big. He was good - not experienced, but good, and he took the unusual measure (for that company), of diagramming his networks in meticulous detail in Visio.
Jack spent long hours building these elaborate charts. IPs of each VLAN emerged on thin black lines. Notations for the actual physical ports detailed on the faceless white boxes that were the switches and routers. Glancing between the sheets detailing the actual physical runs of Ethernet and cabling, the network chart, and the raw configuration files we'd be entering into the devices themselves.
Anyway, Jack was meticulous and patient, and I needed something to learn. We bonded over whiskey and the Mosin-Nagant, and became fast drinking buddies. I started ignoring servers again in favor of the network, and Jack started slamming Vicodin and using me as the world's most overqualified chauffeur. I moved into the corporate hotel in the podunk town from my apartment an hour north, and devoted my attention to drinking and infrastructure.
One day, after a long night at the local strip club, we were elbows down on the card table with our laptops, bogarting the big screens the new manager had ordered for himself. We were ignoring said manager's fuming for the most part. Then Jack mentioned Brazil - just to watch the manager storm out, I think.
"We're building in Brazil?" I said, all naivete. I'd known, of course - on the East Side of our infrastructure, I'd been privy to all sorts of meetings. "I didn't know that."
"Yeah, it's fucking huge. I'm going to be heading down there after that. Going to be snorting blow off a hooker's ass. You know how it is."
"Lucky. I wish I got to fucking do that. Instead I'm stuck with these goddamn dust storms."
"They're taking techs. I bet you could go." Jack grinned. "I'll buy you your first hooker. And blow. Try and ask Tom."
Two months later, the corporate card, the passport, and a brand new set of luggage was waiting for me on the loading dock. A week later, I had my tickets and my itinerary. And four days later, my roommates poured me, still drunk from midnight margaritas, into the airport system. I shuffled towards destiny with slurred speech and comfortable shoes.
Jack never did get his hookers and blow.