Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Three coins in a fountain

I work at a large convention center which is attached to an equally large hotel/casino. Most days after lunch my fellow programmer and I (yes, there are only two of us to support the convention center, the hotel has about a hundred programmers) usually go for a walk, to get in some exercise and put feeling back into our butts which get numb from occupying chairs all day.

On nice days we have a little route; up the back employee’s entrance, into the parking garage, out to the front hotel entrance and around the corner, back to our front door. This is about three kilometers (two miles) or so, and we stop to look at the boats on the lake out front and listen to the accordion player and look at the people and the construction for the new tower.

On hot days (we don’t get rainy days here, and at lunch time on cold days it’s still over 18 (65f) and warm enough to walk outside) we have an inside path that we take. Depending on how hot it is (I like the heat, but my partner doesn’t (Yes, why is he in Vegas then?)) we walk out from our office, deep in the bowels of the building (programmers never get window offices; well, here nobody has a window office, there are no windows) to the front area, up to the hotel meeting spaces, through the casino to the front door, around to the stairs up to the second floor where the shops are, along the canal (yes, there is a long canal inside), through the big hall and back around. This too is about the same distance as the outside walk.

On both walks we go past a large lake or canal where you can take a boat ride, and have somebody sing Italian songs as you glide along. When we are outside it is too noisy, with all of the traffic next to us, to hear the singing. But inside the boats reach a little wider area where they turn around and go back, where the designers created a high arched ceiling. The singers reach the end of a song at this point, slowing the boat as it turns around, and most of them usually end on a nice loud phrase that echoes off of the ceiling, while some of the singers kneel in the boat behind their riders and sing a soft love song. There is usually a crowd standing in this area, looking at the boats and taking pictures. They sometimes applaud, if the singing is loud enough. Going on this route as often as we do we’ve learned which gondoliers have good voices for the big songs and which are good on the love ballads. So we usually stop and wait for a few boats to go by, and look down the canal to see if one that we like is on their way down.

Standing there on the canal the other day I noticed something.

Down under the water, those sparkly things, they’re coins. We see the same thing outside; coins in the lake. (yes, this is the canal inside - nice sky overhead, isn't it?) I don’t know how often the canal is cleaned; the water is nice and clear and the bottom is smooth blue concrete. I’m sure there is a water purifier, as water at this end either pours out of the cast faces around the canal or bubbles up in the middle of the turn-around wide spot. The shopping area and the canal are closed from midnight until early morning, so there is time for people to get in a scrub everything. So I don’t know how long it takes to build up a layer of coins.

But it makes me wonder why people like to throw coins in water. You can see it all over town – anyplace there is a public fountain or concrete pond or lake there are usually coins in it. There is the old movie Three coins in the Fountain, and the Youtube version of the song from the movie, but I think the tradition of coins in a fountain has been around a little longer (though quick searches don’t show anything).

So, do you throw coins in fountains? Wishing wells? Canals in Las Vegas?

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