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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Road Trip: #VegasStrong

Some friends were surprised to hear that I went to Las Vegas this weekend, only a week after the massacre at Mandalay Bay.

They asked if I was worried and had considered cancelling the trip, but I told them no, there was no reason to do so. That would be like refusing to fly anywhere after a recent plane crash. Yes, the shooter had killed almost five dozen people and wounded ten times that, but he was dead and there was no threat of a follow-up.

Before leaving St. Louis, a couple of family members told me to “be careful.” I pointed out that no amount of caution would protect me from a madman who was planning to kill at random. I’m sure that most of the people at the country music festival were being careful last Sunday night — I wanted to say “all of the people were being careful,” but you and I both know that there are irresponsible idiots everywhere, but even their actions had nothing to do with the bullets flying.

The bottom line is that no extra measure of preparation was necessary for my Vegas trip — just the usual, including: don’t count your money in public; don’t try to bluff a guy who always calls; and don’t play the new roulette wheel at the Venetian that has not just zero and double zero, but an extra space labeled “S” (because triple zero wouldn’t look good, I suppose), giving the house an additional 2.5% edge. That last one would never be a problem for me because I don’t play roulette anywhere, and I refuse to give Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson even a penny of my money.

If tourists have stayed away from Vegas for the last week or so, I couldn’t tell. The sidewalks were packed, the poker tables were as full as they usually are this time of year, and the lines to get into the nightclubs were ridiculously long. I am not patron of those clubs because I don’t drink, I hate loud pounding music, and the average customer is less than half my age, which would essentially make me invisible to the other attendees. But it’s hard not to notice when you’re walking through a casino and pass hundreds of twenty-somethings, all hoping to get into a club so they can overpay for drinks and not be able to hear a single word anyone says.

Over the weekend, I never went near Mandalay Bay nor the site of the concert/massacre, but there were signs up and down the strip with the hashtag #VegasStrong. One of my Lyft drivers told me that, in addition to the first responders and medical personnel going above and beyond last Sunday, a lot of local mental health professionals have been offering counseling since then — not just for the victims and their families, but anyone who had been at the show or was affected by it. That’s what I’d rather think about, keeping the humanity of the helpers in my thoughts, rather than allowing something horrible that happened in the past tense make me worried in the present and future tense.

Now that my trip is over, I’m happy to report that, as expected, nothing went wrong other than a few bad football bets (speaking of things I should be more careful about!).