People Sure Keep Odd Hours in This Here Town

Illustration by Jon Estrada

Illustration by Jon Estrada

Las Vegas has so many weird work schedules. How does someone maintain a normal life when forced to work such strange hours?

To be fair, Las Vegas has plenty of nine-to-fivers, just as most major cities have people who work odd hours outside that clichéd norm. I remember watching New York episodes of Insomniac and No Reservations and being fascinated by the impossibly early hours of fishmongers and other early risers.

But given that our city’s primary industry relies on the type of tourism that never stops spending, Las Vegas has long been a 24-hour city. Back in the day, the nonstop sinning was fueled by late-night nosh, after-hours lounge shows and all-night gambling. Today, gambling remains an anytime activity, and nightclubs dominate the late-night/early-morning scene, but shows and dining have mostly moved to earlier hours.

Either way, Las Vegas still requires three shifts a day, every day, to operate. Hence: The swing shift, the graveyard shift, foil-covered bedroom windows and something we like to call “My Friday” … which can be any day of the week except Friday. (“My Friday” happens to be Saturday. Working Downtown—where Thursday is Friday, thanks to the City’s shortened week—gives me a four-day working weekend.) See how easy that is to understand?

As to the second part of your question, having a “normal” life in Las Vegas is actually pretty simple. Step One: Get a job outside our tourism/gaming industry. Step Two: Live in a home outside the resort corridors. Step Three: Never mix with those who don’t do exactly the same. It’ll be like living in Irvine! Without IKEA.

Is Las Vegas a city, or is it a town?

According to Wikipedia’s highly subjective entry, a city is a “relatively large and permanent settlement” with “complex systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing and transportation.” Given that, Las Vegas is a city. Still, when someone is deriding the place, it’s usually a town. As in, “I can’t find a decent pizza in this town!” Or, “We’ll never have a major league team in this town!” “People in this town can’t drive worth a crap!” and, of course, “I’m getting the hell out of this town!” Damn townies.