Things I Learned in Vegas


I’ve returned from a week-long conference in Las Vegas. Technically, we were in Henderson…in a conference center all day.  So no tips for the magic way to pull the lever and win at slots.

1. Bring chapstick. Lots of chapstick. You may be spending all day in an artificial climate, but the desert air still seeps in.

2. For the conference itself, make sure to pack a sweater…and gloves…and a coat. No matter how many people complain and no matter how loudly they do it, no one can seem to find the thermostat.

3. Having lived in a city that bans smoking in restaurants and bars has skewed my world view. I see someone light up and I am shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you. I get this panicky, 5-year-old kid urge to tattle. And I find it really hard to breathe.

I know that Beth was hoping for some good people watching and social insights, but I’m afraid I failed. I spent as little time in the hotel casino as possible. However, walking through once, I did see a guy dressed in all brown (a nice pant and shirt combo that reminded me of the 70s) who was sitting at the machine, watching the walkway as his wife played. He looked comfy with his hands tucked into his pants. Nothing lewd. More like he was sitting on his couch at home, watching TV. So, I guess people watching goes both ways.

One of the other convention attendees told me of seeing a woman at 6AM, plugging away at the slots, five open and empty cans of Mountain Dew at her feet and in the chair beside her. A cigarette was pinched between her lips and the soda cans were all sprinkled with ash. A cautionary tale.

My best people watching actually happened while in captivity on the plane. Lucky me was in the middle seat both times. On the way to the conference, the guy in the window seat was watching an incredibly funny movie on his iPad. Because of the glare, I couldn’t see what it was, but I wanted to. After all, every time he laughed, I jiggled.

On the way back, a travel-wary businessman sat by the window. He had Tom Clancy’s Sum of All Fears on his tray table. His hands were beefy and he had a bump on the outside of his pointer finger. It looked like the kind I used to get when writing a story long hand. But since no one does that anymore and it would be really weird to hold your pen with the outside of your pointer finger, I’m not sure what it was.

He read until the plane took off, then he leaned into the window like an excited kid. We were supposed to land at midnight in the middle of a snow storm (Saskatchewan Screamer, I believe is what it was dubbed), so instead of seeing the lights on the plane through inky blackness, we could see a halo of light as it reflected off the clouds. There even appeared to be a lighted slipstream coming off of the wing tip – pretty cool actually. As we descended, the man shied away from the window. He looked stead-fastedly at my tray table until we were below the cloudline, at which point, he reglued himself to the window.

I didn’t expect his child-like glee (although he was silent) or the cringing. I based my assumption on the button-up shirt, beefy hands, and type of book he was reading. But it was these things that made him much more interesting to me that the guy on my other side. All I remember about him is that he bought M&Ms…and that they smelled really good.


2 thoughts on “Things I Learned in Vegas

  1. bethfinke

    Gee, I guess your blog post left me speechless.
    What I meant to say up there was that your people-watching report did not disappoint. Thanks for the descriptions!

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