He rolled his eyes and said, “What, your BFF is a cab driver?”
Point taken, but I still feel more comfortable riding in a taxi. Riding to the airport, I started thinking about my first trip to Las Vegas.
It was the mid-eighties and my mother and I decided to take a “Girls Only” trip to Las Vegas. I had never been and it had been over 20 years since she had been. We lived in Wisconsin, so it was not a weekend jaunt, as it is in So Cal. It took a couple of months of planning and saving, but there were, staying in the Stardust hotel, getting ready for our first night exploring the strip.
We went to several different casinos, finishing up our evening at Caesar’s Palace. On the cab ride back to our hotel around midnight, my mother pulled some cash out of her wallet, showing me what she planned to tip the guy to get my approval. Unbeknown to either one of us, the wallet slip off her lap and ended up under the seat of the cab.
Once inside, we decided to do a little more gambling and split up to find our favorite slot machines.
She found me about five minutes later, totally horrified.
“My wallet is gone!” Of course, so were all her credit cards and her id, along with $400.00 in cash she had saved up for the trip.
The hotel staff were very helpful, even figuring out which cab company had dropped us off, but we had no idea who the driver had been. We called the cab company and they told us that most of their drivers got off their shifts around 200am. If the wallet was still in the cab, the driver would probably find it when he cleaned out his car.
We were both pretty doubtful it would be found intake. This was, after all, Vegas. Another customer could easily get in, clean it out, and perhaps leave the wallet. Or the cab driver could easily take the cash and say he found it that way and return the id and credit cards. We were pretty sure, best case, if we got the wallet back, it would be minus the cash.
I went to bed, but my mother couldn’t sleep. This was pre September 11th, so she could have flown home with no id. Credit cards could be cancelled. Just call Dad in the morning and have him send out some more cash.
“You don’t understand,” she said. “That was MY money. I saved it so we could go gambling and have some nice dinners.”
Her money, Dad’s money. What the hell difference did it make?
But it mattered to her. Years later I would have a conversation with my aunt, shortly after I bought my first house solo and she said, “You know it wasn’t that long ago, that women couldn’t buy houses on their own.”
It is easy when you grow up having options, as a woman, as a minority, to forget. Is it a perfect world when it comes to sexism and racism? Of course not. Just the United States has a long way to go to say neither exists anymore, but we also need to stop sometimes and be thankful for how far things have come.
My mother grew up in a time when women couldn’t buy their own houses, were expected not to work once they got pregnant and basically relied on their husbands for everything. Saving up $400.00 of her own money, for a vacation with her daughter was a big deal. A trip that 30 years before, would have never happened. Now the money was gone and she was going to have to ask her husband to bail her out.
At 300am that night, the phone rang in our hotel room. It was the front desk of the hotel. The cab driver we had earlier had found the wallet when he finished his shift. He looked at the picture on my mother’s license and remembered he had dropped us off at the Stardust. He was down in the lobby with the wallet. Did we want to come down and pick it up?
I got out of bed, threw on some clothes and we both went down. When the cab driver handed her the wallet back, he was beaming that he had found the owner.
She looked inside. $400.00 in cash and all the credit cards. She started crying and tipped him a $50.00, which at first he didn’t want to take.
“We want people to feel safe in Las Vegas. I was just doing my job,” he told her.
I thought of that story as I was being driven to the airport. A woman, owner of not one, but three houses, traveling on business, going back to a band she runs herself.
Someday maybe I will try Uber. But for now, I think I will stick with the cabs.