Quakers' stopover in Vegas

What’s a Quaker to do when plonked down in the midst of Babylon? Sit and stare. Or sit, state, and type on a laptop, symbol of my own participation in Babylon.

I wrote this sitting in the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, waiting for a connecting flight to San Francisco. I know it’s called McCarran International Airport because an electronic signboard across the waiting area says so. This sign repeatedly flashes moving images of showers of dollar bills spinning out and floating down. The showers repeat in a cycle, starting with a small shower and getting bigger each time until they cover half the screen. Then the cycle repeats.

On the flight in from Buffalo, the flight crew said it was 102 degrees here. Yet I’m sitting in my short sleeves with my arms tightly held to my body to preserve warmth in the air conditioning. I want to put on my sweatshirt but it seems ridiculous.

There is a TV here which has mesmerized my wife and children. It was a seemingly innocent program about dog trainers. Still, I couldn’t stand it. I had been reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw on the flight in, and on page 185 it says right there, “Kill your TV.”

When I went to the bathroom, the fellow behind me in line was on his cellphone checking in with a buddy. He got off the phone and went to the urinal. He then picked up his phone and said, “Howya doin’, Pops? I’m in Vegas!” I couldn’t tell if his phone had been on vibrate and he answered it, or that he actively placed a call while peeing. In any event, he went on to explain he was going to his first bachelor’s party and that he was happy because he hadn’t been to Vegas in two years.

(I went to a bachelor party in Atlantic City once. A native of New Jersey, I had maybe been there once before, and it was soon after the casinos were opened and weren’t as big as they became by 1990. I decided to treat it as a sociological experiment and just look at the casinos and observe my friends as they gambled. It was interesting… including the fact that I was the only one in the group to leave whatever hotel we were in and go over to Trump’s Taj Mahal, even though nearly everyone in the group maintained that he had wanted to check it out. But they were all too busy gambling to bother. Oh, and several of them were annoyed that the casinos shut down for one or two hours overnight. At breakfast the next morning, some of the guys were betting on everything. One of them wanted to bet that we would all have cellphones by 2000. If I had taken him up on it, I would have won that bet, since I didn’t get a cellphone until 2002. Overall, it was some party—not! But it was a great New Jersey experience.)

Anyway, when we got off the plane in Las Vegas, the sensory overload was noticeable, with all the gambling machines pinging and flashing.

I noticed a young couple sitting at a gate with their approximately two-year-old daughter. The daughter was on a toddler restraint, which is sometimes a necessary tool; however, I was perturbed that the mother was flipping through a celebrity type magazine while tugging on her daughter’s leash, without talking to her to coax her back or anything. Robin said you don’t know how long they’ve been here. True. However, I do know that when we’ve experienced long periods of waiting in airports, we don’t just ignore our children and read, much as we would LIKE to.

I will confess, however, that in addition to Robin letting the children watch the TV in the waiting area, I let them play the silly bowling game on my cellphone. Better than having them ogle the casino games, in my opinion, but probably only slightly better.

We did get home eventually, around 2:30 am, with yet another delay in SFO because I had to fill out a form for my suitcase, which got routed to Seattle by mistake. Our children were awake and civil for a remarkably long time that day. We are blessed!


Liz Opp said...

Whew! Welcome home, you guys!

I just got home yesterday afternoon (Monday) and am playing catch-up with blogs. Eighteen hours later, I'm also still groggy from having taken a Dramamine during the bumpy plane ride while returning from NCYMC sessions. I can't imagine having to handle two children on top of all that!

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

cubbie said...

when i moved from florida to washington state, i found the summer hotter in some ways, because woah! no air conditioning. in florida, it's a good idea to carry around a sweatshirt in the summer in case the store you go into is to cold. WEIRD!!!