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Happy Losing Money?

by Larry Patrick

I just returned this past weekend from my first ever trip to Las Vegas. Several friends of mine couldn’t believe that at my age and travels I had never been to Vegas. So we planned a trip last August for this February. My new bosses, the Orrs of the Huerfano Journal were nice enough to let me go since I had planned this trip while working with KSPK and had already paid for it.

What I noticed in Las Vegas, is that they work really hard to make you happy that you are losing money by gambling with them. Most everywhere you go, you see signs or hear someone lament that most of the workers in Las Vegas are working for minimum wage and rely on your tips for survival. Not only are you to lose money gambling but you should also tip the “poor” people that are helping you to lose it. What a concept. Why can’t the federal government copy this strategy so that we would all be as “jubilant” about paying our taxes.

When my friends and I took the bus trip to see the Hoover Dam, our tour guide was nice enough to inform us that all of these multi-billion dollar hotels only paid their workers minimum wage and that the only people in Vegas making money were the casino owners and the contractors that were building the huge beautiful buildings. He then proceeded to tell us that he was embarrassed to answer a question that had supposedly been asked during a break from one of the bus passengers as to whether we were supposed to “tip” him and how much. Somehow, even from the back of the bus, he didn’t look too embarrassed to tell us how much “extra” we should be giving him. The rest of us on the bus wanted to know who the “moron” was that supposedly asked such a question to help us part with more of our money. Of course, the question probably wasn’t asked. It was part of the slick, professional way that these people have in making us feel more obligated.

The taxi drivers and the airport shuttle busses all have signs letting us know that 50% of the poor drivers income is derived from “tips.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against “tipping” people for good service. It’s just that you are hit with it everywhere you go so that to “forget or overlook” would be a major crime. So I happily lost my money to the blackjack dealers and gave her tips so she could survive and be able to work in these glitzy places.

I was reminded of a story that long time comedian, Buddy Hackett, told Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show many years ago. He said people gamble their money freely and look happy about it until they get to their hotel room. Then he said the fun part is walking down the hallways and listening to the husband and wives arguing behind closed doors. A husband could be heard yelling at his wife, “You lost $100 of our money gambling downstairs tonight.” The wife yelled back, “Well, you lost $200!” “Yes,” the man replied, “but I know what I’m doing.”

All in all I had a great time in Las Vegas with my friends. It is an amazing city that has turned into a “playground” for many of us all hoping that we’re going to be the one to “beat the odds.” Sad to say, I didn’t beat the odds. But I can now say that I have been to Las Vegas and don’t ask me why, but I have a smile on my face even though I lost money because I know I helped all of those poor people working in all of those extravagant hotels. Yes, the “art of giving” can make you feel good. I hope this feeling lasts as I now begin to do my income taxes!