Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday nothing

Well, September has been getting on here in loverly Las Vegas. The weather has cooled down a bit. Temps are predicted for the low 100's for the next few weeks.

That was from last week, but it's supposed to be a little cooler for a few days, but back up there by the weekend. We had a few thunderstorms - this is the rainy season here, wet air drifts up from Mexico, and we sometimes get the remains of Texas hurricanes. There was enough water falling from the sky at our house on Monday that the dust was driven off of the grass, but that was about it. We sat out under the metal patio roof and listened to the little rain that did fall, and our dog hid from the thunder. After I left work on Monday evidently everyone at work heard about the water falling from the sky and walked out to the front and watched. We work down in the basement, with two feet of concrete overhead and no windows, thunder sounds about the same as forklifts upstairs unloading trucks, so we depend on the guards that wander around outside to tell us when the weather changes. All the noise and drama, but we still are down under two inches of rain for the year.

The big clothing shows are gone, and for this week and next we have some technical conferences for software companies. The group in this week is smaller, but next week is quite busy. Our lower small hall has been set up to serve the food

We are getting in five hundred servers, the room is about half filled with tables and chairs and it looks like there is seating for about ten thousand down here. Not very fancy, but when the tablecloths are put out and the silver sparkles it will be OK. Not really nice, but the ballrooms will be filled for the conference and where else can you sit ten thousand people at once for meals? Here is what it looks like upstairs, where we are feeding about 4,000 in half of one of the halls. It's a little sparklier with all the silver out.

That’s the way most of Vegas works. We have three full time chefs in the kitchen, who plan things, order stuff and prepare samples for prospective show managers, all the other food handlers come in on a temp basis when needed. When there is a big show we will have dozens of cooks and food prep workers in the kitchens, all sorts of runners pushing big silver boxes around that are either hot or cold to deliver the stuff, servers, cleaners, cash register people, all kinds of workers wandering. For next week it will be five hundred servers, dressed in their black pants and vests, white shirts and bow ties. Usually for events like this the big resort hotel casino next door supplies the food, we supply the servers and our kitchen feeds the servers. I guess it’s tradition that food servers are also fed, I have no idea where that comes from, maybe to keep them from snitching things off of the plates. Of course, they don’t get the fancy stuff, but sometimes lunch is comprised of what was prepared and not served to the customers the day before. The rest of the employees here don’t get fed though, we just watch. Some of the servers do pretty well - for shows like this there is a gratuity added to the bill which is split, so working on call part time during a good year can bring a well known (and frequently called) worker pay up towards the six figure range. That’s a very good year; a slow year might bring you down to ten or fifteen grand, quite a drop. I was talking to my friend the chef that we always go to for carved turkey when there is a show we can eat at, and last year he only had forty three paid days. I don’t know what else he does, but I don’t know how he survives on that (only the banquet servers split tips).

So these weeks are really busy for the food and beverage office, as well as personnel. They have to call the union to get all of these banquet servers sent over, interviewed, photographed for IDs, parking passes issued and processed for payroll purposes. We then have the parking garage stuffed for a few days, and the back halls crowded with penguins just talking away, clocking in and waiting for serving time. Plus all the food carts traveling through, the temp housekeeping people that do the cleanup coming in after the service, and all the ancillary personnel required to ramp up for large groups.

The big wedding show was here last week. It comes every six months, so this is the third one I’ve gotten to see since starting work here. The September show presents the spring wedding fashion line, so it’s larger than the February show. This one had more booths and square footage than the one last year, but the number of buyers seemed to be much less. I guess it all follows the economy; companies have to come to shows to advertise, and just hope that buyers will come and place orders. I have no idea how many orders were placed, who knows, people might still do fancy weddings even if there is no money floating around. This show provided employment for many local models - there were several dozen scattered among the booths, wearing fancy dresses and strutting the catwalks, or just standing in front of smaller booths. There is another profession that probably does not result in major income - tall thin pretty models are frequently in demand, but they also probably have a great many days when there is nothing to do.

After these two weeks of computers will come the big bike show, where the newest in fiberglass and moly blends will be displayed. This year they’ll probably have some of the bikes that were used in the Olympics, maybe even the riders on display. I’m not a big biker, though it is nice and flat around Vegas, with some gorgeous trails around the parks and interesting rides through the rough desert if you’re into that stuff. There is a big area here for employees to lock up their bikes, but the only workers I see using it ride because they can’t afford cars, not because it’s the environmentally right thing to do. Then we’ll be on to the winter run of different shows, keeping the facility full until next April or so when it tapers off.

I hope the Democrats get back in. I don’t care what the so called analysts say, I can just look at things from my point of view. As a free lance consultant there was always more work during Democratic administrations, the Clinton years were very good for the economy in Southern California (and the rest of the US). Another four years of sending our money and lives overseas will just drag things down even more. I can see it from the decline in the number of show attendees we have, and the number of tourists that come through Vegas. All of the hotels are offering cheap rates now, because of the poor economy and lack of visitors. Bragging about voting with the current president 90% of the time does not indicate an attitude of change.

No comments: