Las Vegas Travelogue: Hell’s Shopping Mall

Steve MerrymanAttitude2 Comments

I thought I would like going to Las Vegas. After all, I like being in other places. But getting there is usually a pain in the ass.

We came to Las Vegas to visit the National Hardware Show, where our client had a trade show exhibit we helped design. So I wanted to see it and take some photos. And Mrs. Sigmadog wanted to explore the wonderful world of hardware. Seriously. She loves that stuff.

The adventure began on our way out of Spokane. Being the infrequent traveler that I am, I forgot to remove my wallet from my back pocket at the security check. At that point I was taught a lesson in security-theater by the attendant who had to pretend I was a hardened criminal. So he sent my wallet through the conveyor belt, and patted down my legs and butt, jabbering the whole time.

“I am now using the back of my hand only to pat the back of your leg.”

Followed by: “I am now using the back of my hand only to check the inside of your thighs.”

And “I am now using the back of my hand only to check your back pockets…”

On and on. I was deeply insulted: Am I not attractive enough for the front of your hand?

Additionally, my safety razor was disassembled and the blade discarded. It’s attention to small details like that which makes me appreciate the fine work done by the TSA to keep American skies safe. Of course, they completely missed the box full of five new unused razor blades right next to the safety razor. Great work, guys!

Wednesday: Trade Show and Las Vegas impressions.

We made it to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the first day of the National Hardware Show. We found our client’s booth and took some photos. 

The National Hardware Show is beyond huge. I’m serious, I’ve hiked in mountain ranges and had a smaller map. I saw countless people lost in the concourse, calling for help, or begging for water, and tearfully pleading with us to leave them and take their children. But this is Vegas, and here we only care about ourselves.

This is the third time I’ve found myself in this city, so I feel very qualified to say without reservation, I hate Las Vegas.

Vegas is a city designed with one goal: To extract your money. On that one subject I suppose Las Vegas is America’s most honest city. Only the mob could build a city this fake. Everyone is pretending to be someone else. There is a show in which four guys pretend to be the Beatles; one in which a guy pretends to be Michael Jackson; and another in which Wayne Newton pretends to be alive.

A mirror outside our bathroom makes me look skinny, proving that everything in Las Vegas is an illusion.

In a city so utterly based on fakery, the only act worth seeing is Penn & Teller. At least they are honest about their illusions (and their show is awesome!).

Being in Las Vegas is like being trapped in Hell’s Shopping Mall. Luxury is a word you see and hear in Las Vegas. It’s meaningless, like “um” and “trust me”.

We are staying in the WestGate Resort Hotel and Retirement Savings Extraction Center. It used to be the Hilton, and it was where Elvis stayed. I suggested to the wife that in honor of The King I’d like to have his favorite meal: peanut butter and banana pressed between two thin slices of white twenty year-olds. She was not amused. Alas, The King is long gone, and now the vultures are circling his castle picking at the crumbs. Everything about this city is cheesy and plastic with a loud veneer of lust and greed.

Las Vegas hot nuts and cheese
Las Vegas: Yeah, that about sums it up.

We have a leaky faucet in our bathroom. We first thought the constant drip – drip would keep us awake all night. But in reality we could hardly hear it over the roar of the air vent.

Last night we visited the old part of town on Fremont Street. It’s one of the more interesting places in Las Vegas. We stopped to look at the menu at the HeartAttack Grill. I was hungry and wanted to go inside and try a Double or Triple Bypass Burger.

half-naked Las Vegas street musician
No thanks. I’m full.

Just behind us a guy started playing some music on an electric guitar. I turned to look and, just like that, I wasn’t hungry anymore.

Tomorrow morning we have to attend a sales pitch in which the staff of the WestGate Resort Hotel and Retirement Savings Extraction Center will attempt to woo us into purchasing a time-share. I wish them luck. Me? Paying for a timeshare in Las Vegas? In this piece of shit hotel? I’d rather jog home after a vasectomy (that’s a Dennis Miller joke).

Thursday: Las Vegas Time Share Trauma

I’m ashamed to admit, they almost had me. They were that good. I don’t even travel that much, but they had a clever angle: “Don’t travel much? No problem, you can simply rent out your timeshare because this is Las Vegas and everyone wants to come here!”

Except me, of course.

The presentation was only supposed to be 90 minutes. We were there for three and a half hours. For an outfit whose sole purpose is to sell time, they don’t seem to have a good handle on their product. During the 3.5 hour marathon, they employed the following strategies:

  • Positives. All positives! According to them there was simply nothing wrong with the opportunity to spend $80,000 for a single bedroom Las Vegas condo one week out of the year, especially with financing at 18.99%! What an awesome deal!
  • Confuse me with numbers. This, admittedly, is not very hard to do: “If you spend X on vacations, and expect to spend Y in the next twenty years, then spending Z now is brilliant, especially with W buying bonus and low S yearly fees, and the freedom to transfer for only U and the potential to rent out unused time to make an additional K-M. It’s that simple!”  Fortunately I had Mrs. Sigmadog, who is better at numbers/math than me, sitting at my side. So at the point I lost track of what they were jabbering about (in this case it was right after the “Hi, my name is…” part), I just shut up and let her do all the talking.
  • Pressure. “This is a great deal, but you have to make the decision right now before you leave this presentation!” fortunately I remembered Steve’s Law of Big Purchases: Unless an Indiana Jones-sized boulder is bearing down on you, there’s no reason to make snap decisions.
  • Private conferences not allowed. They gave Mrs. Sigmadog and I no time to sit and confer privately about this major purchase, probably because doing so would allow us to see through their tactics of applied pressure and confusing numbers.
  • Hold us hostage. Despite our salesperson’s promise that they would respect our decision, they wouldn’t let us say “no”. They kept coming back with offer after offer. But the essential deal was still the same: Don’t talk it over; Don’t question the math; and make your decision right now!

Those tactics might work when selling cheap knock-off sunglasses out of a cardboard box that fell off a truck, but not a purchase involving 5-6 digit figures.

Before the meeting, I told Mrs. Sigmadog that I would never agree to another vacation deal with time-share presentations attached. She wasn’t so sure. After all, she’s a bargain hunter and likes to snag great deals. But after this fiasco, Mrs. Sigmadog is fully on board: we no longer have time for time-share.

Friday: Escape Checklist:

Having escaped the time-share hucksters, seen our client at the Hardware Show, and gotten sick to our stomachs at a half-naked street musician, it was time to admit we’d experienced all we cared to of Las Vegas. It was time to leave escape.

As you know, every escape plan needs a checklist. This, unfortunately, was ours:

  • Two-hour delay in Las Vegas once we’re trapped waiting at our gate: Check.
  • Upon boarding, Airline decides to wait another twenty minutes so an additional 11 passengers can board (where they were two hours ago I have no idea): Check.
  • Pick the seat directly in front of a toddler who does his best Chernobyl Melt-Down impression (crying, screaming, flailing, kicking, etc.) for 115 minutes of a 150 minute flight: Check.
  • Upon landing, and just before leaving, cheerfully inform the toddler there is no Santa Claus: No, I couldn’t do that. Even after a couple days in Vegas, I had at least that much of my soul remaining.

This post is a classic from a couple years ago. It still holds up and will continue to do so – so long as Wayne Newton remains alive.

2 Comments on “Las Vegas Travelogue: Hell’s Shopping Mall”

  1. Great story. The Mrs. and I flew out to Vegas when she was just The Miss. She came back The Mrs. After about 12 hours the city simply exhausted us. Too much stimulation, too many lights.

    We got married in the mall buried under Bally’s on a Sunday.

    Still, not my kind of city.

    1. “Too much stimulation” is right. Las Vegas is like a giant box of UnLucky Charms for Adults: Extremely sugary, and not very healthy.

      Though it does offer relatively inexpensive nuptials for lovers on a budget.

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