Not So Much Fear and Loathing As Strange and Weirdness

Las Vegas is a weird town. If you haven’t visited, you don’t even have an inkling. Atlantic City is just a pale comparison. Indian gaming is something else entirely. Monaco — well, I really don’t know, but I can’t imagine it holds a candle to the strangeness that is daily life everywhere in Vegas.

And I’m not even referring to the bizarre image of New York cheek and jowl with the Eiffel Tower, just down the road from a pyramid, which is within spitting distance of Caesar’s Rome. And I’m not referring to all the people from all walks of life all pretending to be different people from even more different walks of life.

The strangeness begins in the way Vegas throws the unusual together to create the unbelievable. A few years ago, I joined a friend of mine who had come to Vegas to promote a television show she was working on. The National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) was in town. This convention brings together everyone who is anyone in the television business to determine what you will see on all those channels. My friend was going to get her show in front of the executives by holding the casting call just down the hall from the main convention. The show was called “Cooking’s a Drag” and the casting call was for Betty D. Licious, the drag queen that would be the star of the show.

Now this being Vegas, a casting call that resulted in 50 or so drag queens wandering the hall wasn’t even the unusual part. The quintessential Vegas experience came about because there was a pipe fitters (or some sort of constructiony group) convention occurring in the same location. Imagine a hallway full of television executives, drag queens, Midwestern construction types, and the run-of-the-mill gamblers that wander all Vegas hallways. Mix thoroughly.

Yet that isn’t even the beginning of the oddness that is Vegas. What really sets it apart are the people who live here — the ones who have let this strangeness infect their ability to be human. (Quick caveat — not everyone who lives in Vegas is strange. So, if you’re from Vegas — honest, I’m not talking about you. And if you know anyone who lives in Vegas — honest, I’m not talking about them, unless you know I am.) A couple of quick audit stories to prove the point. I’ve performed audit work and investigations in this area over a number of years, and it seems that strange people are just attracted to the area. One office manager refused to allow us into his office. As he left he explained he was going to Circus Circus to have a vasectomy. Our review of another office showed it to be a combination insurance sales and Filipino fish market. He was raising some of the fish in his backyard pool. Another gentleman explained that the reason he kept an Uzi in his office was because he was afraid of the pimp (his word) from whom he had stolen money.

But then, I’m sure this happens everywhere.

And now, a large group of auditors sits in Las Vegas with the solemn intent of learning best practices in the audit world. Skip the number of individuals I’ve heard talking about how tired they are after sitting in on poker tournaments or having their arms welded to slot machines. Mark my words; other strange things will happen. And there’s a reason what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The rest of us just don’t want to know.

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 by Mike Jacka

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