A few more stories from my most recent trip to Las Vegas…
For years, there has been a flat-panel truck driving up and down The Strip, day and night, advertising “Hot Babes Direct To You — Girls That Want To Meet You,” with pictures of scantily-clad young women giving their best Hello, Big Boy look. I’ve joked before that these women only want to meet you if you have plenty of money in your pockets you’re willing to transfer to their pockets. But now, in the interest of diversity, there’s another truck with essentially the same message, but in Asian characters (I’d bet it was in Chinese, but it could have been Japanese or Korean, for all I know). And yes, all the young women in the pictures are Asian, too. For decades, Vegas has tried to appeal to gamblers from the Far East with games like Pai Gow and Baccarat. It has lost some of that business since the casinos opened in Macau several years ago, but exploiting women for cash is still a global industry, so I’m only surprised that it took so long for these trucks to appear and that the phone number isn’t 888-888-8888. If Vegas attracted large numbers of Latino visitors, I guarantee there would also be a truck saying “Chicas que quieren conocerte!”
When a customer goes to the cage to cash out their chips, the cashiers should never ask, “How are you doing?” I know they don’t mean anything by it, but if you’ve been the victim of a really bad beat and lost a bunch of money (a subject that, sadly, I know a little about), the last thing you want is to be asked that question. It stings as much as if someone had asked you the same thing while in the ER waiting area while bleeding from a massive head wound. They’d be much better off sticking with a generic “Hello.”
One of the sights I always recommend to first-time Vegas visitors is the atrium of the Bellagio — not just the lobby, with its display of Chihuly glass overhead, but the area beyond that, where the Bellagio’s staff designs and displays beautiful floral arrangements that change with each season. Here’s the problem: it has become so popular that it’s impossible to walk through without getting in the way of some couple that hits you in the head with a selfie stick while taking a picture of the display and themselves. It is essentially impassable any time between noon and midnight, so if you don’t like crowds, go when the clock says AM.
On my departure day, I was disappointed to discover that there was no line available at McCarran Airport for those of us who have paid to use the “TSA Pre” queue, which permits us to keep our shoes and belts on, among other perks. Why? The TSA was doing canine screening, which meant every passenger in that concourse had to go through the back-and-forth cattle ropes before emerging into a single-file line while an officer walked a dog (sniffing for explosives, drugs, or roasted pig heads) past each of us. And this was before getting to the podium where we’d have our boarding passes and IDs checked. After that checkpoint, I was shocked to see that the TSA didn’t even have all of its screening lanes open! Since this was a holiday morning, there must have been 500 passengers moving through, but they didn’t make any effort to unclog the queue. In the interest of customer service, the TSA should have not only opened all the lanes, but brought in a second dog to handle some of the load, too!
It’s easier to get through the Bellagio atrium than it was to get past the security façade the TSA had up that day. It’s a good thing no one asked me, “How are you doing?” that morning.