Thursday, July 5, 2012

Las Vegas Before Cell Phones

PITTSBURGH -- Still in Pittsburgh. Mentally preparing for WSOP and the craziness that is Las Vegas.

I've been thinking about a trip we made there maybe 20 years ago. Back before everybody had a cell phone.

Larry and I were attending the Design Automation Conference in early June of whatever year it was, and one evening we decided to go to Treasure Island to see Cirque du Soleil. Larry would get there on his own in his motorized wheelchair, and I would meet him at a designated time and place. I took a cab and walked into the Treasure Island casino just in time to hear my name being paged. Really. "Please go to the security office." First of all, they can actually page people? But then, omg, what was going on.


I found the security office, and they had a message for me, a message that Larry had left them by calling on his shoebox-sized cell phone. I have a flat tire and I'm stranded. He was near a small casino down the street from Treasure Island. I started running. Out the door, down the "street" toward the place that I could see in the distance. Well, anybody who has ever been to Vegas knows that nothing is close by. As I was running, I saw a sign that said the temperature was something like 112. 


Finally, I got to the place, and a young couple walked up to me. "Is your husband the guy in the wheelchair?" Yes, what happened? They told me that they were walking past him, on their way to a billiards tournament, when they realized that his chair wasn't moving. He was stuck in the direct sun. So they immediately pushed him into the shade and got him some water. And then they somehow tracked down the only wheelchair cab available in all of Las Vegas at that time. Larry was back at the hotel, safe and sound, although still immobile. Thankfully, we always traveled with extra parts.


I hope that I said thank you as I hailed a cab. Back at the Hilton, we were taken into the bowels of the building where a workshop was tucked away, a whole different life than what went on upstairs. One can only imagine the types of things and ways that things get broken in a Las Vegas casino. There was a group of guys whose job it was to fix things, and it only took a few minutes to change the tire.


To the couple who saved Larry from heat stroke -- a couple from Canada who said, "We watched all the Americans walk right past you" -- thank you again. I hope you won your billiards tournament.