Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wandering around

OMG (why do I keep saying that? I’ll have to come up with another expression – suggestions welcome) I just returned from a forty five + minute walk and I am really surprised. Not that I came back, but about the walk.

I went looking for the next door big hotel that shall not be named HR department in order to make enquiries for a friend (you better appreciate this: well, you don’t have to, I just want to give you a hard time). Anyway, I have walked around the ‘back of house’ halls before, and marveled at the amount of space consumed behind the scenes. But today was the first time I ventured down to the ‘heart of house’ (that’s what the signs say) down in the basement over there. All I can say is WOW! And I didn’t get lost, even without a crumb trail to follow back. Well, crumbs would probably have been vacuumed up before I returned anyway.

A few weeks ago I followed the bhtsnbn computer help desk manager up to their realm, to see how their place compares to mine. All I can say (OK, you’re right, I can say a lot more) is that there is a little difference. Our help desk is three guys down in the basement sharing space with two programmers and the head of the network group. Their help desk is thirty people in a state of the art command center up on the second floor. Sharing space with two dozen programmers each with a ‘cubicle’ (I would not call it that compared to the Dilbert type cubicles at other companies I’ve worked at) almost as large as our space for five, a nice desk space that wraps around three sides and half of them have windows that overlook the lake and the Strip. Admittedly, our help desk just supports a hundred or so computers, they support thousands as well as providing aid for hotel guests up in their rooms. It was a walk and a maze going through the back hallways, upstairs and through some more back halls to the computer area last time.

But this morning I hit the basement. I thought the upstairs back area was large, but that area backs onto the casino floor, the restaurants, meeting rooms and other spaces. The basement does not back onto anything, it just goes underneath EVERYTHING. I think I walked about two miles just in the basement getting to the HR office. I passed hundreds of employees going about their business, nobody looking at you because they figure if you made it down that far you belonged there. That’s the secret of going places – always act as if you belong there, do not look surprised, do not gawk, and keep walking purposefully. With the right attitude you can go almost anywhere. But back to the basement.

I was fortunate that there were signs periodically pointing to Human Resources. These signs were at most hallway intersections; I only had to backtrack twice. I passed numerous kitchens, housekeeping offices, the paint shop, the lock shop, some food storage freezers, quite a few storage rooms, through a hallway lined with summer outdoor lounge chairs, dodged several small electric powered carts pulling trains of serving carts, more elevators than I thought this place had, and lots of signs pointing to things.

Downstairs not everybody is in uniform; employees that do not have customer contact are not required to wear uniforms, and there are people going in to work or going home that use locker rooms to change. The people painted white that act like statues, the street singers dressed in old Venetian costumes (oh, I used that word, sorry) and the cocktail waitresses that wear a lot less at work all wear street clothes outside. I imagine that places with shows, like Bally’s with the feathered showgirls or TI with pirate Sirens, also have people that you would not recognize out of costume wandering around.

Back to the purpose of this little essay, which really doesn’t have a purpose. I just wanted to express my amazement at the size of the basement, and say that yes, I found my way back. And realize that whenever you are walking around in Vegas there is probably somebody (or lots of somebodies) wandering around underneath you all busy doing things. Probably not underneath the Strip itself, though there are tunnels for the county maintenance workers down there too, but under every hotel and casino. Our tunnels even go under the lakes and canals and driveways and sidewalks, so probably every one else’s do too. Oh, makes me wonder if the Bellagio has walkways under their lake. I don’t know: probably. I have gone past the new City Centre construction site, and did notice that the entire parcel was dug up, or dug down, several stories so that entire area is honeycombed with rooms and passageways.

Makes me even more impressed with the architects that design these places, who have to think about and accommodate all of the non-public spaces that are used to keep the public areas working. I would guess that the behind and under the scene areas about equal the up front public areas.

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