26 May 2004

The people you meet

The only other time I was in Las Vegas I had no time to check out the Strip, so I wanted to make that a priority this time.  So we spent most of the day Friday walking from place to place.  I'm impressed with the overblown presence of everything in Vegas, especially when you get to the upscale places like Bellagio, but it also is a bit much.  I had no idea that most of the high end hotels have a full shopping mall along with their casino and restaurants.  How much money is one expected to spend?  Do you buy that Tiffany necklace before you go to the casino or wait until after you've won thousands of dollars?  I kept picturing all these people slunking (yes, I just made up that word) out of the casino to return the stuff they bought at the shops the day before, since they could no longer afford it.

Of course, when you speak of business and Vegas, you remember that prostitution is legal there.  And they remind you of it when you walk down the street because there are people all over the place trying to hand you cards with pictures and phone numbers of what the city has to offer.  It was quite an experience seeing these people, most who looked lke they had just crossed the border looking for work, forcing these cards upon everybody.  They didn't discriminate, trying to get everyone from children to elderly ladies to accept their offerings.  In three days of being out among these card "givers", I didn't see one person actually take one from them.  I was much more impressed with some of the creative places these cards were placed, stuck in the railing of escalators, in planters, anywhere that a bored yet creative vendor could visualize somebody taking one.

I've been told that there are a lot of freaks in Vegas, but I didn't see many.  And aside from the occassional roar at a nearby table when someone hit it big, it didn't seem all that excessively noisy either.  However, I did see a few of what I consider the most obnoxious of all creatures in Vegas, the person who has so much money that they think they can behave however they want.

We encountered the classic prototype of this creature Thursday night at Treasure Island.  We had made reservations for dinner and when we arrived we were told that it would be just a few minutes before they sat us.  Shortly after this a man arrived with three other gentleman and asked to speak to the manager.  While I could not hear their conversation, I could see that the man was showing the manager a series of checks that he had in his possession from Treasure Island.  He was a high roller and expected to get a good table right away.  He and his party were seated before we were.

And, of course, we were fortunate enough to be seated directly next to this bunch.  The genlteman with the checks was loud and obnoxious, he was from the south, and sprinkled his words with plenty of colorful sayings and profanity.  The table's classiest moment came when a group of ladies who had dining in the restaurant walked past their table as they left. 

There are defining moments in a person's life when you see what they are made of.  I'd love to say here that I got up, confronted these jerks and got them to leave in shame.  That would be a lie.  I did nothing.

My fiance Kristen, seated next to me at the table, excused herself for a moment and went to the front of the restaurant.  She was gone for a minute or so, and shortly after she returned, the manager began to hover around the table where these men were sitting.  The next time one of them swore, he was all over them. 

It has to be difficult to do that job, especially in a place like Vegas, where people are throwing their wealth at your all of the time expecting preferential treatment.  The manager did not toss these peple out of the restaurant, but we noticed that they got their meals extremely fast and were out of the restaurant long before we were.  I am convinced that he had the kitchen speed up their order so that he could get them to leave faster.  He also told us that he was aware of the situation and was going to take care of it. 

So our meal there turned out to be pleasant, and it was enjoyable to see someone as arrogant and obnoxious as be put in their place.  I'm sure he and his group went off somewhere else and craved attention for the rest of the evening.

 I'm dying to know what would have happened if they had run into one of the slow blackjack dealers at the Mirage.



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