Out of Control, Las Vegas Style

I know most things in life are outside of my control. Most of the time, I take genuine pleasure in letting the chips fall where they may.

But Las Vegas seemed designed to test my mettle.

Take, for example, music. Music emanated from every imaginable space… from the shrubs lining the lake, under my seat in the restaurant, in the stanchions that hold up the pedestrian walkways. Even in our hotel room, 12 stories up, I could hear the courtyard music, 24 hours a day. It wasn’t loud enough to keep you awake, but loud enough that you knew that silence was utterly beyond your reach.

Take, for example, the tourist attractions. You can’t get to any place in any hotel without going through the casino. Fair enough. Most people in Las Vegas come to gamble. But even with a floor plan in hand, it was impossible, in most hotels, to figure out how to get where you wanted to go from where you were standing.

Take the check-in line at the Mandalay, one of Las Vegas’s tonier hotels. We watched in amazement as several hundred conference attendees waited to check in. The line circled the cavernous lobby and streamed out into the adjacent mall. Conference planners distributed water bottles to people who had been waiting for hours. Just to check in! 

The absolute worst was the gondola at the Venetian. We had to go through the casino (of course) and down what felt like miles of shop-lined “streets.” Every so often, the street forked with no indication as to which fork to take. By the time we found the gondolas–as far from the hotel entrance as it was possible to get–I hardly cared what the ride was like.  

By the time I left town, I was … what … frantic, frenetic, exhausted from a constant rush of adrenaline as I lost one battle after another against the institution of Las Vegas.  I desperately needed to do something mindless and repetitive. 

And that’s when I got it. The mindless and repetitive thing you do in Las Vegas is the slot machines. Even if you’re not a gambler. 

I left town in the nick of time.