Nothing brings out people’s arrogance quite like not being invited to an “invitation only” event. This became clear last night when I returned to our hospitality lounge to drop in on a party we were sponsoring with one of our partners. The schedule included appearances by OK Go, Terry Bradshaw and lots of booze.
There was a huge line outside the door and no one looked happy to be waiting in it. I checked in with a colleague, who told me we were at full capacity, but I was welcome to hang around outside and watch the hookers attempt to do business with the people in our line. I couldn’t resist an opportunity like that, so I found myself in the makeshift role of spare bouncer. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m not exactly cut out for that line of work, but I guess I was just one more body to stand in the way of the would-be gatecrashers.
We’re in the middle of a smorgasbord of lustre and noise, but suddenly it felt like every passer-by was interested only in attending our party – an event they knew nothing about, hosted by a company they knew nothing about. I’m not talking about CES attendees; I’m talking about everybody in the stinkin’ hotel. As if our one little hallway was the only place they could find any action in this massive den of iniquity – what is it, exactly, about a bass beat and an unseen DJ that makes people want to go into a dark, crowded room? Everyone who walked by had to stop, push up against us and peer into the room – at which point they were convinced they had to get inside it.
And all of a sudden, everyone was best friends with “someone who works at your company” but couldn’t seem to provide that person’s name. And even if they’d lucked onto a real name, they hadn’t received an invitation and weren’t on the guest list being checked by my associate, yet they seemed to think they were entitled to attend. Some entitlement. Yep, nothing more fun than cramming yourself into a dark, hot, loud room full of people you don’t know.
One guy asked what he had to do to get into the party. I told him, get invited. He asked me what he had to do to get invited. I told him, receive an invitation previously. He asked me what he had to do to receive an invitation previously. I told him to go see my colleague.
A man walked up with a Chinese woman on his arm and asked, “Is this a Chinese party?” I don’t even know what a Chinese party is, so I told him our headquarters are in China and there are some Chinese people inside. He nodded and said, “Yep, this is the place” and started walking in. Our hired security guard straightened him out.
I turned around and found myself face-to-face with a hooker in a red dress.
“You need to let me in,” she exclaimed in a squeaky voice, “because the ratio in there is terrible and no one has shoes as pretty as mine.”
I looked at her shoes. They were green, plastic and tacky. I looked up and said, “I have a pair just like them.” She gave me a pouty look, whirled around on one green, plastic, tacky heel and began making her way down the line, trying to end up on the arm of one of the invited guests.
We saw plenty of other examples of arrogance, entitlement and anger before I’d finally put in enough sweat equity to earn my right to stand just inside the door and wait for OK Go to play. My back was killing me, but I stood and waited, and wound up enjoying their set very much before retiring for the evening.
Saw more entitlement this morning as I cruised through the casino – three armed security guards and an irate pit boss had surrounded a man as big as a grizzly bear and as drunk as anyone I’ve ever seen, and he was giving each of them a piece of his mind.
“What’s your name? Officer Stephens?” he slurred. “So we got Officer Steve Stephenson here, trying to tell me what to do!”
I hurried past before the security guards drafted me to help them, as I’m sure the word of my stellar bouncer duties must have already spread around this town. But I looked back to see the pit boss dragging the grizzly aside, talking quietly to him. When I walked through again after breakfast, the grizzly was back at his craps table, rolling the dice and bellowing. The pit boss was watching him with a smile. Officers Stephens, Stephenson and Steve were nowhere to be seen. I have no idea how he managed to still be there, as I’ve always assumed that if you tick off a pit boss in a casino, you should plan on making a hasty exit. Clearly the grizzly had a way with words or a wad of money to lose. Either way, I’d like to have his gift.
As I reached the edge of the casino, I was surprised to see two young children – a brother and a sister, probably 6 and 7 – standing just off the carpet, staring into the vast, glittery chasm, mouths agape. Their parents were there with them and my first impulse was to ask them what the hell they’d been thinking, bringing kids to a place like this. But I resisted and fought my way into another crammed elevator, then watched as another family attempted to work their way out of it when we reached their floor. I looked around at the assortment of porn fans and tech nerds still in the elevator with me and hoped the regular tourists had known what they were in for when they’d made reservations for this week.
I hope none of the families found the two remaining things I stumbled upon. The first was in a crowded rest room next to the casino, where I entered the stall and saw a card on the ground with a barely censored picture of a nude woman on the front. I bent over and almost picked it up before I remembered myself. I was in the middle of a nasty casino bathroom where the stall’s previous occupant had left a nude picture on the floor in front of the toilet. It was probably better left untouched.
But I still managed to read what it said. It was a business card for an escort service; it had that escort’s name, going rate and other pertinent stats printed on it, almost like a baseball card. But it also included the brilliant promotional phrase, “A real girl!”
I don’t know if escort customers typically worry about buying fakes, but apparently being real is a selling point. It didn’t seem necessary to me, judging from the picture – there was little left to the imagination and she was clearly female – even with two blue stars on her breasts.
Before I left the stall, I thought of the amazed little boy at the edge of the casino, and I just couldn’t leave the card there for him to find. I took several minutes to mummify my hand with toilet paper, then picked up the card and deposited the whole mess in the trash by the sink – where I discovered stacks of similar promotional material as I scrubbed my hands. Sorry, kid, I thought to myself, but maybe your dad will think to cover your eyes if you come in here. Then again, maybe not – he was stupid enough to bring you to Vegas.
The second encounter came while I phoned my own family this evening. The team was still working in the War Room and I excused myself to go call home from the hallway. I didn’t want them hearing the mushy stuff; it won’t do to let other people know you love your spouse.
Standing in the hallway, I noticed a woman in a hot pink outfit at the far end of the hallway – the hub for the halls of suites and the entrance to the elevator. She was striking some interesting poses on the little sofa under the chandelier, looking back over her shoulder at someone I couldn’t see from my vantage point. I was pretty sure I knew what was going on, but I just had to satisfy my curiosity, so I walked as I talked and watched her shift from all fours to standing on the sofa and peeking through the chandelier, to sitting just on the edge of the sofa and spreading her legs as wide as they could go – which was considerably wide.
That was the point where I was able to see what she was looking at, confirming my suspicion. It was a photographer. This was apparently an impulse photo shoot and boy, was that guy getting a lens full. And there I stood, telling my sons that I love them and wishing them a good night as I watched this creep stick his camera up her skirt, where I’m reasonably sure it found a view unblocked by pesky underpants.
They both turned and scowled at me, as if I’d interrupted a private moment. Excuse me, lady. This guy is practically using his camera as a speculum on you, but I’m somehow violating your space.
I turned and walked back toward the War Room as my sons relinquished the phone to my wife. I chuckled and said, “You’re never gonna believe what I just saw….”
Tonight things are winding down on the CES side just as they’re gearing up on the porn side, but it’s late and I’m hoping the kids in this hotel are already asleep and unlikely to encounter the people being led around the casino with ball gags in their mouths.