Billions (Of lonely moments).

Billionaires and Reality

About 10 pm — I sat in the lobby lounge at our hotel with a few people. The billionaire happened to own the hotel. There was a webcam temporarily affixed to a railing so his security people could monitor the lounge area.

A little after 10, the hotel manager shooed everyone out of the lounge. As we got up to leave, he told me we were fine to stay. I insisted the people with me stay. Something interesting was about to happen.

The hotel staff put out 18 feet worth of tables, then covered those tables with chafing dishes of food. At the end of the room opposite us, they laid down a rug, on which they placed a couch and some floor lamps. They brought in a massive flat screen TV and placed it in front of the couch. They placed a chair at each end of the couch. It was a little living room set-up.

When all was placed, they put a masking tape perimeter around the “living room.” It sort of looked like the penalty box on a soccer field. At the midpoint of the room, they put down another tape line. I thought of this as the goal box.

My group watched and chatted while this happened.

About 11 pm, the elevator doors opened.

Out came a man who had the grubby look of a homeless person, except he was dressed like … well, like Moses. Right down to the sandals and foot-to-head-length curved staff.

With him was a man similarly dressed, but without a staff. He was about as tall as Homeless Moses’ hip. The two walked into the goal box, headed to the chafing dishes and loaded up plates of food. They ate at a table next to the goal box tape line.

Maybe 30 minutes later, the elevator doors opened again.

Out came the billionaire’s chief of staff and two other people. She came over to say hello – said he was coming down, if we wanted to we should help ourselves to some food and eat in the goal box area. We were welcome to step into the penalty box area when he arrived to say hello.

It was a little rude, I suppose, but we politely declined, saying we wouldn’t want to disturb him. She went up to her room for the night.

It must have been about midnight when the elevator doors opened and the billionaire entered. He walked through the lobby alone, to the lounge, ignored Homeless Mo and his friend, passed the food without taking any, then sat on the couch.

We found out later, the little crew had been out that evening at a movie theatre the billionaire had rented so they could watch Last Vegas.

As he settled in, we saw the programming on his giant flatscreen: first, the DVD of an interview he had done with Charlie Rose the day before, then the DVD of himself being interviewed on stage earlier in the day.

It was well after 1 am when I looked around. We four sat there puzzling over the scene.

An entire lobby lounge. Homeless Mo and his friend sitting by the center line. 12 chafing dishes of food, and one guy watching himself on TV. After watching Last Vegas at a rented cinema.

He had brought his own reality with him.

It looked like a pretty lonely existence.