The Vegas Buddy System

17 05 2013

After six months of retail labor, I turned in my resignation at the Grand Canyon, giving the proper two weeks notice.

“Make sure you leave on good terms,” my friend Thomas advised. “You might want to come back.”

I had serious doubts I would ever want to return to the Grand Canyon, as a worker that is. The isolation was severe and the pay was poverty level, but for this stage of my life the experience proved priceless. I was leaving much healthier in spirit and physical well being than when I had arrived. Nature had truly worked wonders. I was ready to return home and rejoin an old fight with much stronger legs. First, I would fly from Phoenix to Charlotte, North Carolina to meet David, who was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention.

David had carried on the political battles back in Florida while I cleared my head and regained confidence in the Canyon. It would be good to see him again. He was always supportive of my endeavors and his honesty is impeccable. David is honest to a fault.

But before I would see David and many other familiar faces from my politico days, I would take advantage of my independence, freedom and surroundings one last time with a trip to Las Vegas. The recreation center put together the trip, renting a bus and a block of hotel rooms smack dab in the middle of the famed strip. It was open to any Canyon employee who could get the time off and afford the experience. In total, about 40 of us went, half of which were Turks.

We stayed at the Flamingo, a modest casino hotel in an excellent location. It was near the end of the summer season and yet the pool parties were still raging across Sin City. Just weeks prior to our arrival, Great Britain’s Prince Harry had made tabloid headlines after being caught partying it up with some less desirables. In the new age of social media, the catch phrase “What Happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” no longer applied. On our trip were a few international students I had befriended after the guys from Singapore left. One, in particular, was a Macedonian university student named Bard. We had gotten off to a somewhat frosty start. I had overheard him skyping with his mother at the rec center and when he finished, I asked what language he was speaking.

“I’m from Albania. Do you know of this country?,” he answered.

I didn’t know Albanian, but I sure recognized sarcasm.

“Yes, I know of Albania,” I replied. Perhaps he was protecting his privacy, I thought, and at the same time insulting my intelligence. Whatever the case after a few minutes of small talk, Bard was on his way. He worked in housekeeping so we didn’t see too much of each other, only in passing at the employee cafeteria or at the general store. Despite getting off to a rocky start, Bard and I became closer for reasons I cannot fully divulge, but by the time the bus was motoring its way through the desert we were fast friends.

This friendship cemented itself as we wandered the strip, headed back to the Flamingo after an awesome night at the dance clubs. It was around 3 a.m. and the street workers — or ladies of the night if you will — were out and aggressive. Seeing two clean cut young men in good spirits, they were quick to pounce. Bard brushed them aside without a thought. He was an imposing figure, after all. Easily over 6-foot with buzzed blond hair and fluent in several languages — Russian, Turkish and English just to name a few. For this situation, “No” was universally accepted.

That’s when the girls turned their attention and charm tactics to me. “Would you like some company tonight, honey.” one of them asked.

Bard didn’t let me answer.

“Leave him alone,” he shouted. “He’s with me.”

The girls seemed surprised. I know I was.

Of course, Bard and I were not together. We shared similar interests, but not the same bed. And yet I was grateful for being with Bard that moment. I had given into temptation in moments like that before. One incredibly stupid situation in London comes to mind that I may write about one day despite my best efforts to forget. Stupid decisions are easy to make in Las Vegas. That’s why it’s best to go with the buddy system.

спасибо, Bard!

Skyping with Mom in Albania.

Skyping with Mom in Albania.

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One response

17 05 2013
David

Great post John. Those peskey ladies.

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