Better Garbage

Once the initial Covid shutdowns yielded to limited occupancies, the swank Strip hotel/casinos decided any churn better than none.

Hey. A buck’s a buck. Earnings shortfall is better than nothing earned at all.

Which is why after what seemed for the longest Las Vegas visitors who earlier only might’ve clogged the gaming floors while bitching about exorbitant cocktail prices at the establishments’ bars after having blown their thin wads in several short hands or rolls at tables could actually fill and soil rooms inside well-known Las Vegas Boulevard addresses.

These guests instinctively knew this their chance. At no other time in their lives would rack rates be so poverty low.

Thus, during the latter half of 2020 they flooded the Big Mayberry when the city staggered. They arrived bearing possessions in laundry or garbage bags. The latter “baggage” why some who honestly labor here in the hospitality industry referred to them as “garbage.”

Perhaps readers have seen the worst episodes of the lowbrow invasion on social media. Thanks to ubiquitous cell phone cameras, can any untoward behavior remain unrecorded and not instantly distributed globally?

Forget the screeching skanks bringing “malt liquor conduct” onto pavements in front of famous properties. Or ya-ya, red-eye rolling mentions of skunk-smelling weed so thick these fog banks choked the Southern Nevada atmosphere.

But the above aren’t the worst. Those would be rumbles that broke out almost nightly for the longest. Such incidents started easily enough. A look, a word, a response between two passing bands of out-of-town feral youths then suddenly all of present creation jumped in as combatants.

These boils were explosions. No, cloud bursts. They built quickly, deluged fists until knuckles fatigued, then the sides cleared. At least in the Mojave when the atmosphere turns violent and drenches the desert, brief-lived puddles shimmer until they evaporate. In the cases of fights, if someone hadn’t been filming such incivility no one outside that element would’ve known of the turbulence.

And for a period, these were nightly occurrences. Front-line hospitality personnel, hotel housekeepers, desk staff, restaurant servers should’ve earned the empathy of anyone who labors for a living. They, never management, bore the brunt of the same sort of discourtesy exhibited on the streets inside their places of employment.

The desperately accepted guests believed the working men and women catering to them were somehow inferior. They misbehaved accordingly.

Rude, impolite, overly demanding, low caliber visitors treated men and women who changed linens, tidied rooms, informed about city events and locations of interest, delivered meals and drinks as if they were menials. Funny thing is the same men and women those nomads belittled stand heads and shoulders above them. This may surprise America, but not just anyone can draw a check from a Las Vegas hotel or its adjunct offerings. The woman rolling the cart, the man pushing the floor sweeper underwent a winnowing that would’ve excluded a high portion of scornful guests.

It’s no exaggeration stating the vast majority of nomads who besieged Las Vegas during its low occupancy phase were only good enough to spend money at those addresses. Few could reach the high standards necessary to work inside them.

When occupancy percentages were raised, one might’ve expected room rates to have risen with them. Some did but foreseeing higher visitation several closed properties reopened while those which had limited their full-service operations to weekends went seven days.

Hoteliers need low-yield volume until some semblance of real money returns. Again, some money is better than none. Las Vegans of all stripes and shades should hope the big money sluice resumes in June. Then, a big convention whose attendees are anricipated to reach mid-five figures still remains scheduled. If it occurs, goes off without a hitch, glitch, or hiccup, cooped-up throngs throughout the country with pent-up “urges” will flood this city afterwards.

After the initial nomads surged then ebbed, a subsequent wave further challenged the bounds of decorum. Though bearing more money than the vanguards, they exhibited about the same level of crass.

Consider them better loads of garbage.

Once again with bargains to be exploited here in Las Vegas, guests who might’ve been deterred by regular prices and attendant fees saw their chances. These legions, however, bolster the higher end of opportunists.

No garbage or laundry bags for them. Instead, solidly constructed luggage. Noted brands at that. Rarified compared to the earlier flocks, this second wave holds the same attitudes towards personnel serving them. Except their comportment is nastier and knowingly devious.

Unlike the first group of nomads, let’s all suspect they knew better. Let’s also suspect they intentionally wanted to challenge the extremes of Las Vegas hospitality and tolerance.

The prior disreputable visitors were just plain ignorant. Does that suffice as an excuse? No, but it does slightly mitigate the boorishness they smeared onto memories.

The subsequent nomads carried more money. Clearly, they did. Besides real luggage rather than refugee sacks, what parts of their persons weren’t brandishing designer labels? Indeed, these most garish of conspicuous consumers were walking mishmashes of trendy wear.

What declares being affluent more effectively than blaring it shamelessly?

And blare they did. A good number toiled in the urban music industry. If not directly involved, then surely in some affiliated post-production aspects. No need to guess on this. Listening sufficed. They dropped big names and projects so insistently and loudly, it reminded of neighborhood boys bouncing basketballs everywhere they could irritate rather than dribbling them on any nearby court.

Bigger piles of ready cash did not bestow greater mindfulness or awareness. Exactly the opposite. Seemingly little humiliation was spared when it came to them asserting who was master and who served whom in hotels, restaurants, and clubs. Watching and listening manufactured borderline impatience slosh over into disagreeability for show was embarrassing. Not for the personnel targeted. After all, insensitive guests or patrons are part of the hospitality and service industries’ hazards.

Instead, knowing that maybe one or two generations separated the new flashy money from elders who had once probably labored in the same kind of groves made their displays difficult to witness. Doubtlessly a quick survey ought of revealed plenty of porters and maids in the backgrounds of today’s fortunate sons and daughters, hard-working men and women whose thankless careers made the new sets’ elevations possible.

In some way the behavior shown might’ve been conscious or unconscious reaction to the visitors’ less than Rockefeller origins.

Work doesn’t carry the same dignity as it had. A hard job, a dull profession, one that doesn’t rain untold wealth right off the bat, that must be for suckers. A lot of today’s aspirants for unearned celebrity believe if they don’t occupy the spotlight on Day Two they’re nothing. Nobodies. Not that they’ll ever admit it. Starting at the bottom and working one’s way up, paying dues, mustn’t even factor in career development anymore.

If the title and position aren’t stellar, if neither are glamorous, if one’s associates don’t suffer envy, is the job satisfying? As the old folks – and not so old folks – may counsel, the best jobs are those that deliver and sustain comfort.

Two pantomimes exemplified a too prevalent mindset regarding those being served and those serving them.

In the first, a visiting Philadelphia loudmouth had lost his phone during a party excursion the night before. Oh, not just any phone. “A $2,000 phone!” He missed no chance to remind, no, exclaim, the gadget’s cost.

Somehow while chasing hookers, boozing, and doping, he’d let his “$2,000 phone!” slip his possession. Imagine that.

Fortunately for him, the Philadelphian’s device remained activated. Its homing mechanism eventually led him to the limo driver’s address. There, the prior evening’s passenger roused the sleeping man, explained the emergency – one which the Las Vegan was quite familiar.

Who knew such incidents could be so common?

A swift vehicle search restored the “$2,000 phone!” to its owner. Although feeling instinctively obliged to give the driver a reward, Philly also showed signs of parsimony. His posture was of a cheap bastard grateful to have his property restored, yes, though reluctant to release any green to feather that gratitude. The limo driver read the situation. Knowing what sullied his driveway, he declined renumeration.

Regaining his “$2,000 phone!” and out of the driver’s earshot, a happy Philly expressed relief his savior refused what he’d proffered. That’s small. There’s smaller.

While Covid conditions have let visitors living on the narrowest of margins enjoy fantasy accommodations on the Strip, the same circumstances have allowed a distinctly higher end group to play out their own “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” Las Vegas’ current doldrums also beset the luxury rental market. Though the discounts were nowhere as steep as Strip properties’, savings can be had.

Bargain hunters in the higher brackets gladly rearranged schedules to take advantage of these hoped-for never to be repeated times.

Generally, the guests who availed themselves to such exclusivity populate what present pop culture labels “creatives.” A broad spectrum that coarsens television, movies, and music. Add to this heap “influencers,” figures whose fame predominantly derives from ju-jitsu’ing notoriety into lucre.

Know bold-faced names as they incessantly bellow, these nomads are peripheral to true talents. At best, their places in the celebrity firmament are so remote they brush tenuous.

Just after Las Vegas occupancy rates rose to 50% from 35% a trio of inflated shakers and makers blew in from the Coast. Hearing them, they’d descended into Las Vegas for an “estimation vacation.” Over two weeks, these three sampled amenities at this snug pleasure dome and that minor palace.

No doubt the increased occupancy levels had a good number of such deal scavengers performing the same roundelay relays.

Catching them at the very end of their sojourn, I didn’t bother wondering whether the evaluations they’d accumulated might’ve been scattered. Didn’t their nightly adventures into the city’s club/party/social scene consist of doing the “fullest Vegas” available?

In the following afternoons when swollen pounding heads were somehow excavated from luscious pillows, let’s hope epic hangovers crammed what remained of their leisurely days.

Perhaps the excess partying without end further contributed to the rottenness dumped on hospitality and retail staffs. Even though I’m nowhere near the most discriminating patron or discerning consumer, I respect that upscale goods sold at premium prices or premier services rendered for princely fees can occasion some pretty pointed exactitude.

Nonetheless, it seemed that too high a percentage of second-wavers stirred baseless contention between themselves and the working men and women soldiering on their behalf just for the sake of aggravation. As if insecure customers sensed most of those serving them disdained the money they spent; as if this cash had been earned improperly or somehow devalued because it passed through “unworthy” hands before being placed into theirs.

Self-doubt or symptoms of coke psychosis?

Regardless of why, edgy sales negotiations and the sort of berating seldom seen or heard from confident buyers had servers, clerks, and salespeople performing all kinds of feats of agility and demonstrating uncommon nimbleness towards maintaining cools. Especially servers, men and women who live off tips.

In restaurants, observers could wonder if any meal had ever been properly presented to the most persnickety of nomad diners. Despite perfection, some niggling aspect was going to displease a member or two of the party. And since such diners know nothing about circumspection, their criticisms weren’t issued sotto voce but at operatic volumes.

The ends of the meals weren’t fraught or even whether Lucy would swipe the football as Charlie Brown ran to kick it. Servers were going to get stiffed. It could be counted on as the surest of sure disappointments.

No matter how exquisite the menu curated, no matter how attentive the service, the fastidiousness shown in keeping glasses full, gratuities rarely broke above paltry, meager, or miserly. What induced absolute astonishment from knowing diners who tipped to acknowledge fine meals and terrific service could’ve been the insulting magnanimity nomads left as residue.

Their bill could’ve been several hundred or several thousand dollars depending on the size of the dinner party and what it requested. Too few of the payments on amounts due had nice appreciative cushions under them. Put it like this: generally, if the total came out to, say, $792, it got rounded off to 800. And that eight bucks was conferred as the greatest gift imaginable.

Admirable how those slighted never spat venom. Had they, other working men and women would’ve understood and wholeheartedly supported the gesture.

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