Friday, December 02, 2005

One Name Wonders

Cher. Madonna. Bono. Sting. Frank. Sammy. Dino. Liberace. Sigfried. Roy. Mikey. All the greats seem have just one name. But here in Vegas, I've realized that nobody has a last name (except Wayne Newton, but we'll leave him out of the current discussion). Even the mayor just goes by the name 'Oscar' (When he uses his last name, people tend to think he used to be Steve Austin's boss back in the seventies...) I've been here about ten months now, and although I've met hundreds of people, I can count on one hand the people who's last name I know. I think it's truly a Vegas phenomenon.

Back in Nashville and Phoenix, all of my jobs involved contact with the public, and everyone I dealt with knew my last name, and of course I knew everyone's last name who worked in my office, too. It was especially nice at Schwab, because we had to wear name tags with first and last names, and in a building with about 600 brokers lurking about, it was easy to find out who the especially attractive folks were. Hey man, have you seen that new girl, Tara Smith? Good God!

Once you had the last name, slipping their name into a group email reminding everyone about happy hour on Friday afternoon was easy. Maybe she'd show up, maybe introductions would be made, and maybe she'd bring along some of her hot friends, too. That's all there was to it. Before long she'd be attending the same parties on the weekends and letting you do tequila shots off of her body in the parking lot before a Jimmy Buffett concert.

Here, that kind of stuff wouldn't happen--first of all, I no longer work in an office and have access to a computer while at work. Second of all, the casinos go out of their way to make sure that employees remain somewhat anonymous. I mean, no cocktail waitress wants anyone to know her last name, and as a dealer, a lot of times I don't want some of the jackasses at my table to even know my first name, much less my last name. For security purposes, it's a great idea, and it really makes it tough on the stalker types. The funny thing is, it carries over everywhere else. I share a house with four other guys. I have no idea what three of their last names are. I go out every weekend with the same group of ten or twelve people I work with--I only know one of their last names. My old roommate Kelly--the stripper--I had no idea what her last name was, either. Of course she gave me her cell phone number and her stage name, but last name? Forget it.

Even my gaming ID card doesn't have my last name, just a picture and my first name. I've applied for a couple of different part-time jobs in recent months, and while filling out the paperwork, I've wracked my brain trying to remember my shift boss's full name, which I'd only heard once or twice in the past.

I remember when I first went looking for a job after I got out of dealer's school, my first referral was to 'go down and see John at the Golden Gate--he'll give you an audition'. No last name. But I got the job. So maybe Vegas really still is a small town. I haven't been here that long, but I've noticed it--there seems to be only two degrees of separation in Vegas in general and the casino business in particular, not the usual six found out in the real world. Everybody knows everybody--they just don't know their last name.

I guess this leads me to believe that last names aren't even needed, at least not here. I just wish there were a way to email Pebbles the cocktail waitress at Monte Carlo and invite her to happy hour this weekend.


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