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[Vegas on My Mind]

Is an inaccurate die sign at Vegas’ McCarran Airport a bit … insulting?

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As a defender of all things right and true about Las Vegas, I’m constantly on the lookout for blatant inaccuracies wherever they may arise. I bristle, for instance, when movies show the hero making a left turn from Planet Hollywood and instantly showing up at the El Cortez. It irks me when journalists ask the mayor of Las Vegas about matters pertaining to the Strip, over which she has no jurisdiction on account of where the city limits lie. And I’m like an annoying auntie correcting your grammar with anyone who even suggests prostitution is or ever has been legal in “Sin City.”

Still, when I first spotted the glaring problem earlier this year with the marquee of a tavern called Lucky Streak at McCarran International Airport, I tweeted out a mocking photo and moved on. It wasn’t until I was stuck waiting for a delayed flight to Reno in mid-June that I found myself staring at it, dwelling on how it could even exist.

The sign is pretty simple. The name of the place is in elegant yellow script against a black background and accompanied by something they decided is iconic of Las Vegas: A die. It is a die, however, that does not exist, because it shows the 5 and the 2 adjacent to one another. On a real die, the 5 and 2 would be on opposite faces because opposite faces always add up to 7.

Anyone familiar with dice games has spotted this mistake before. It is the gambler’s equivalent of noticing an apostrophe that doesn’t belong or a misspelling of the word “canceled” on some public display. Normally you just chuckle or shake your head and move on.

I couldn’t this time. “Disturbs me to no end that a vendor at @lasairport has a marquee with an incorrect die,” I tweeted with another photo. The airport folks clearly didn’t want any responsibility for the goof, tweeting back two hours later: “Neither the store nor the logo belong to McCarran. Your comments should be directed to The Grove, Inc.”

Mon dieu, what a splendid idea! Surely the company that owns the place would feel embarrassed—and with any luck even grateful—to be alerted to the error.

I did tweet at @TheGroveInc, but the suburban Chicago-based airport concessions conglomerate seems to have a Twitter handle solely to congratulate its managers for God-knows-what from time to time. I became their 16th follower.

The next day, when I returned to Vegas, I stopped in for a drink at Lucky Streak and asked my waiter if he was aware of the die glitch. He acknowledged that a few folks had mentioned it but that nobody really cared.

Except: I care! Not as much as I care about war in Iraq or gay marriage or getting my broken Mac from the Geek Squad as soon as humanly possible. It’s not life or death. I get that.

It’s not even significant in the annals of drama surrounding McCarran airport concessions. Remember that time in the 1990s when future Clark County commissioners-turned-felons gave us a hint at the depravity to come by giving out airport berths in the then-new D Gate terminal to friends and campaign donors? Man, those were the days.

But it is weird. Even insulting. The Grove Inc. owns concessions at 13 airports, most with well-known names including Nathan’s, Jersey Mike’s and Jamba Juice. So far as I can tell, Lucky Streak is their only original brand—and they couldn’t bother to have someone who knows anything about Vegas or, uh, the most elemental piece of equipment in almost every board game in history, look it over? Nobody spotted this glaring mistake in its journey to greeting millions of travelers?

Just imagine how analogous mistakes would play out. Imagine the Grove Inc. opening a pub at the Dublin airport with a five-leaf clover on the sign. Or a sports bar at Chicago’s O’Hare with a drawing of Michael Jordan wearing a No. 16 jersey. Maybe the menu in Detroit could offer a Tesla burger.

I really did want to know. I called and emailed the Grove’s spokeswoman Kassondra Lekkas several times, avoiding specifying what I wanted to discuss. But Lekkas didn’t respond, so I tried the two top corporate officers. No reply. Evidently there’s no need to engage the public when you’re in the business of owning stores that exist almost entirely to extort trapped travelers with few choices.

No, the die is not a big deal. But it is something to be embarrassed about, something to correct. But I’ve found the Grove isn’t all that attentive to detail in other ways, either.

After all, it is a Chicago-area company with a U.S. map on its website that shows yellow stars on the cities where it has airport concessions. The yellow star for Chicago? It sits at least 40 miles west of the city.

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Steve Friess

Steve Friess is a freelance journalist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His work has appeared in the New York Times, ...

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