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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 23, 2010

City can be a shocking experience

By Rodney Lee

Ahh, Vegas. The lights. The sounds. The STATIC ELECTRICITY!

Why is it that those of us from Hawaii get shocked so much in Vegas? Could it be from all the humidity we bring with us from the Islands? Or is it just that we hardly ever get shocked here in the tropics, so in Vegas, we notice it?

I think it's the latter. I've seen the bellman get in the elevator and as soon as he puts his hand on the brass railing inside, I hear that familiar "pak" sound of static electricity. He doesn't even flinch.

Meanwhile, I'm pressing the plastic elevator button with my B Connected players card so I don't get zapped. Static electricity seems to find me. Even on the escalator, I'll get shocked from the rubber handrail. How is that possible? It's rubber!

Sometimes I've been shocked from the water coming out of the faucet. OK, I can understand that water conducts electricity. But from the escalator's rubber handrail?

One time I was playing the end machine on the bank of Treasure Chest poker machines at The Cal and a waitress brushed by me on the way to the bar. She zapped me on my shoulder and my hip. Two places at once!

Another time when I was playing a machine, Paula came from behind and gave me a kiss on the neck. PAK! "Didn't you feel that on your lips?" I asked. Nope just me on my neck.

Remember when The Cal used to have a cage with iron bars down by the $1-coin poker machines? I was carefully reaching through the bars to get a hand wipe, making sure not to touch the iron. PAK! I still got zapped. In fact, the cashier said, "Whoa, I saw the blue spark jump!"

When I sit down at a machine and before I even insert my players card, since I'm usually wearing jeans I'll touch my knee against the machine first to remove the zap. But it still takes a few tries before my knee actually touches the machine. I sure hope no one is watching me wondering what kind of weird good luck ritual I'm doing with my leg.

But just because I'm touching the machine doesn't mean I won't get shocked. One time when I was playing the keno machines, the machine wasn't too good. So, resting my hand on the machine, I removed my players card and moved on over to the next machine the whole time keeping my hand on the first machine. As soon as I touched the next machine, I could feel the static electricity in my fingers.

So if I happen to see you in Vegas and seem a little apprehensive to shake your hand or give you a hug, please don't take it personally. I just don't want to get zapped.