Fort Mill Times

Column: Las Vegas can be one of the unhappiest places on Earth

I’m writing this from my departure gate at the Las Vegas airport.

I’ve been here a week – which is about six days too long for my blood – and I actually had a good trip. Hopped off the plane after arriving and a couple hours later, I found $32 in a wad on the side of the road. After looking to see which hapless person it belonged to and saw nobody in the vicinity, I claimed the moola as mine and headed off to lunch, thanking whomever probably just lost their last bit of green in the world.

Maybe it was the woman in the hotel room next to mine. She didn’t fare too well. It was a little disconcerting to wake up and find somebody just a few feet away dead at the end of a rope and even more troubling to see that the hotel and medical personnel didn’t really seem to take this as an extraordinary event.

I found out later that if the room was considered a crime scene that they’d have to quarantine it for a period of time, so they apparently made a business decision and moved her lifeless body to a common area. In Fort Mill, this kind of thing gets reported, but Vegas is a different animal. The next day there was a story about a guy who crashed his motorcycle into a semi and died instantly, but absolutely nothing about the lady who died in the hotel.

I guess they operate on the Disney principle that news like that is bad for business. Everyone needs to stay happy and hopefully alive so their money will keep circulating in the local economy.

Except nobody looks happy there. At least not after the first 24 hours. Everybody looks like they are in a desert of make believe dreams and shattered lives. You can actually see people’s faces harden in front of you. Part of me thinks that half the town would trade places with the unfortunate woman who died in an instant.

Vegas is one of the only places where when I gain money I actually feel guilty. Finding cash on a sidewalk makes me wonder if somebody was beaten and dropped it while fleeing. It makes me wonder if somebody killed themselves and while whisking the body away in a hurry, the authorities left $32 behind. If I win money gambling, I wonder if I just took the rent money of the person across from me.

I read somewhere that suicide is the leading cause of death in Vegas. Believe me, it wasn’t from the Vegas board of tourism. What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, but it still happens.

You can reach Scott at costanalysiscolumn@gmail.com to know when to hit a soft 17.

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