CC and I are deep into our “It’s 6:30 Somewhere” project where we write for thirty minutes every day. My work in progress (WIP) involves a side trip to Las Vegas. Having lived in the Silver State for most of my life, it was pretty easy to pop out the below during tonight’s session. The below was one hundred percent off the cuff, and it was fun to write.
This excerpt is raw and unedited, so suggestions for improvement are always welcome! And it is protected by various copyright laws and such as it is an expression of my ideas. Thank you!
Interstate 15 crosses the most stark landscape in the Lower 48, wiggling through Utah before you cross into Nevada and Vegas. The barren rocks should serve as an omen in reminding travelers that they risk all the money in their grasp with the possibility of having nothing in return. But the human creature is a stupid one and generally bad at math, and there is no more optimistic person in the world than the problem gambler riding those last few miles into Glitter Gulch.
I’m maybe the most cynical person in any crowd, but I can’t help but smile at the lights, sights, and fountains along Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as The Strip. I ditched Dollar in a safe garage a couple miles off the main drag and joined the tourists oohing and ahhing at the least important thing. Under the Fremont Experience, street performers put on their best show for nickels and dimes. I leave my hand on my wallet as I navigate the crowds, ignoring the flesh of the masses.
There are generally two flavors of Vegas casinos, and their nicknames have changed over the decades, but their missions have not. The high rollers cater to the players with deep pockets, so they put on the brightest façade. They own the police force, along with the city, county, and state officials. The only real thorn in their side are the labor unions, but truth be told, money talks, and when it talks, the unions slow down the bigtime casinos about as often as an armadillo crossing in front of a pickup truck on a Texas highway.
The grinders are the casinos who appeal to the construction workers with their Friday checks, the grandmothers with their social security checks, and the tourists who ride in RVs from Fresno. There’s not a lot of money to be had, but the grinders will get all of it with the help of free and watered-down liquor served by ex-showgirls with long legs and silicon cleavage.
Grinders are oddly more profitable than the high rollers because they don’t have the overhead of fifty-story glitz machines, and they don’t have the union visibility of the big boys on the main drag. The tourists go there fully expecting to lose their life savings, but as long as they’re treated nice and filled up with free booze, the tourists more often than not will leave happy, and they’ll be back next year.
Vegas has been grinding tourists down since the middle of the Twentieth Century, and they have the process down to a science.