May 11, 2006

Give Us Your Money and No One Gets Hurt

We like to take a trip to Las Vegas every now and again. Sure, gambling is a waste of good money, but hey so are a lot of things. Besides, I don’t have debt, so I have a few bucks to fritter away if I want. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the tipping point in the decline of a civilization is when it becomes acceptable for street hawkers to accost passers-by with impunity, and worse yet, with official sanction. In Las Vegas these days it is impossible to walk down the Strip without being confronted by a gang of yammering hustlers. Last year Las Vegas banned pedicabs on the Strip citing public safety and pedestrian convenience. Unfortunately, they didn't ban knuckleheads blocking the sidewalks or the casino entrances selling their crap. But then again these bozos don't compete with the lucrative taxi business, or the ill-fated monorail disaster. Plus these guys pay big money to the casino operators in exchange for being allowed to annoy the public. If you haven't been to Las Vegas lately, casino operators are no longer content to beat you out of your money at gambling, over-priced buffets and high room rates. Now they have sold their corporate souls to time-share hustlers and other scum for what amounts to chump change. Every casino has a booth at the entrances staffed by time-share salespeople. Rudeness is all these types understand. Anything less is seen as a sign of weakness and they move in for the kill. Time-shares are one of the worst products on the market. You pay unbelievably high buy-in costs and high annual fees for the right to essentially stay in a hotel. Most sensible people just rent a room. I cannot be more clear than this: I have never heard of a satisfied time-share owner. At least when most folks lose at the slots that's it. Money's gone. With timeshares it goes on and on. Its the purchase that keeps on taking because it is impossible to get rid of one. A friend of mine sat through a pitch where the salesman wanted $14,000 initial buy in and $500 every other year in fees. This is for 5 nights a year. If you used this timeshare every year for ten years you would have paid $14000 + $2500 = $16500 for 50 nights. That is 330 per night. 20 years of use would be $19,000 for 100 nights or $190 per. I can stay in a very nice hotel for a whole lot less. Anyway, it virtually impossible to enter or even pass by any casino on the Strip without being accosted by these vermin. In fact new casino developers have designed the sidewalks so that pedestrians are routed right to these boneheads. Now, I have a large measure of respect for professional sales people, but these are not professionals. They are creeps who have been lured by the promise of high commisions for selling a load of shinola. They typically last about a month before becoming discouraged by the futility of the effort and are replaced by another gang of get-rich-quick losers. They are to sales what new age healers are to medicine. "How long are you folks in town for?", they ask. I would like to reply, "How long is the waiting period for me to get a gun?" Instead I usually ignore them, or tell them I am on the way to the airport or that I live in Las Vegas. This deters all but the dumbest among them. Why should I have to tell a lie to get safe passage in a public area? They claim to offer "free" shows or meals or fabulous gifts. All you have to do is to sit through their pitch and manage to escape their torture cells with your finances intact. Remember boys and girls, there is no such thing as a free anything in Las Vegas. Another offensive bunch is the helicopter tour people. They try to block your way along Las Vegas Blvd and sell you the opportunity to wind up splattered against the wall of the Grand Canyon...with a free show of course. No thanks! But my favorite is the "Live Strippers to Your Room" crowd. They line up about 100 illegal aliens in a way that makes you run a gauntlet of sleaze. As you pass through this mob, they try to hand out cards and fliers promoting live strippers directly to your room. Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas so I’m confidnet that none ot the live strippers are actually hookers (wink). Thank goodness they are live strippers, but I still think I'll pass. Las Vegas should ban this on the basis of litter if nothing else. 99% of their cards ands fliers wind up thrown on the ground two feet away. I cannot imagine ordering a stripper to my room, especially from a flier handed out by an illegal on the street, but someone must. There are dozens of these hawkers out at any time. Even at sub-minimum wage, it costs plenty to hand out this crap. Someone is ordering up a load-o-strippers (wink). When I get home, having resisted the time-shares, strippers and fatal helicopter trips, I think I'm back to sanity, safe from the hustlers. But oh, no. I popped into my local mall for a quick purchase. I don't know about the malls where you live, but here the malls are filled with booths, staffed by creepy cretins hustling cell phones. It is difficult to pass one without some oily character shouting at you. "Hey, who's your cell phone with?" "Hey, none of your friggin' business, stinko. Leave me alone." So, it seems the end is near. We are very close to becoming a 300 million person version of Tijuana. "Hey mister, you want to take a taxi tour? Real good deal, we got strippers!" Tag:

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