In my last post I mentioned a conversation I got in to with the cab driver who helped me Escape from Hell!, also known as the South Point Hotel. The cabbie was genial and talkative. So I asked him how long he’d been driving cab. His story juxtaposed against the Las Vegas world of gamblers, glitz and high priced entertainment put a poignant spin on my visit.
He’d been driving cab for about six months. He’d been laid off from the hotel he’d been working at for several years. He had 15 years experience in hotel service but had only moved to Las Vegas a few years ago so others, also laid off, had seniority over him as far as getting called back to work.
So, rather than sit idle at home, he learned to drive a cab. It took months of training. He had to pass a rigorous test. And now, he has to compete with 7,000 other cabbies to earn enough each day to take home some profit. He showed me his ride sheet. He’d only had 9 fares so far and he’d been working 6 hours already. He works 12 hours/day 6 days/week. He’d been in the cab line waiting his turn to pick up a fare for over 2 hours. He said the competition for fares was brutal, especially along the strip where cabs circled like vultures looking for riders. He preferred
the orderly wait outside the hotels.
Now maybe he was giving me a line in order to get earn a sympathy tip. After all, I was in the land of hucksters and hustlers. But his story had the ring of truth from the evidence I saw. And as I flew out over the vast tracts that surround the city, filled with identical houses all with the same brown roofs sprawling across the desert, I imagined them filled with workers struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, in the service of the people throwing money at rigged games of chance, hookers, booze and all you can eat buffets.
I gave him a 20% tip. After all, I’m also part of the 99%.