Thanks and giving in Las Vegas

Thursday, November 28, 2019
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Dino Dave’s Adventures

Like a desert mirage, nothing in Las Vegas is the real thing. They have a fake Eifel Tower, a fake pyramid, fake volcano and a fake New York just to name a few. Vegas is like a perfectly tied Woolly Bugger that not many fish can resist. I have been that fish a few times. A few years ago, I was there on a Thanksgiving weekend. My friends were all on earlier flights and I was left there alone with a later flight that day. Having just won a poker tournament, I wanted to go home a rare winner so I decided it was best to stay out of the casinos until my flight by doing one of my favorite activities. People watching.

I grabbed a table and a cherry coke with a front row seat to the everentertaining Las Vegas strip. Every type of shape, size and color person walked by. Vegas is the least discriminatory place on earth, the only color it sees is green. To my right was fellow whose other career must have went to a standstill chose to make his living by acting like a statue every day. Next, a couple dolled up ladies in high heels walked by. Looks like I forgot to name a few other fake things earlier. Then a man with a megaphone and a large sign walked by shouting over and over “Sinners! Repent! You are going to hell!” On his billboard were written every possible sin. I was perhaps guilty of a few, but it seemed to me, this gentleman wanted people to give all their attention to him, not his sign.

Las Vegas is known for their famous shows, they should sell tickets this show, the strip was in full effect today.

I then noticed something I had never noticed before. There was a garbage can right in front of my table on the strip sidewalk. Like clockwork, every 5 minutes or so a homeless person would check this garbage. Suddenly, Vegas stopped being so fake and became very real. My attention diverted from the kaleidoscope of tourists to this particular garbage can. This garbage had become its own slot machine. Every 5 minutes someone new peeked in and hoped to find their own version of lucky. I continued to sip my Cherry Coke as I noticed a tourist who probably made their gambling losses back at the buffet table throw away his half-eaten chicken wing. I didn’t think anything of it.

The very next garbage check was a rather cleaner cut looking guy. I would have judged him as more of a drummer in a metal garage band then homeless. I suppose that could be the same thing. He looked in the garbage and I thought to myself, “You’re not going to find anything, it’s already been check 10 times.” But to my gasping surprise he reached in like he found a $100 bill and gnawed the rest of that half-eaten chicken wing like a piranha! I was horrified. “That’s what all these 5-minute checks are about?? Half eaten chicken wings??” Astonished, the scene froze me like the statue street performer. No human should have to eat half eaten chicken wings from a garbage. “Sir!” I yelled to him. I was so stunned I was almost too late as he was anxious to get to the next garbage can. I will admit, I usually do not often give to pan handlers at stop lights. I never know who is legit and who isn’t. There are always stories about being an enabler.

I opened my wallet. Next to my hundred-dollar bills from my poker winnings was a 10-dollar bill. It happened so fast; I gave him the 10. He gave the most generous thanks I had ever received. “Happy Thanksgiving!” He said over and over. I was immediately ashamed for not giving him more. I just won a poker tournament for crying out loud. “Happy Thanksgiving!” He said one more time and made his way down the strip looking for his next “Jackpot”. If I had done it over, I think I would ask his name. I would have given him more. I would have liked to know his story. I wonder what choices he made or what choices were made up on him to lead to chicken wings out of a garbage. I would like to know what ever happened to him. Is he now the drummer for the band Korn living happily ever after? Or maybe, I don’t want to know. No matter, that man changed me that Thanksgiving weekend. This Thursday I will be eating Turkey legs that are not from a garbage or half eaten. This Thursday I will think of people watching on the Las Vegas Strip that day.

This Thursday I will know that I’ve hit the real Jackpot. In the words of the gentleman I met on the Vegas strip with a half eaten chicken wing in his hand, “Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving!”

Dave Fuqua is a Glendive native. You can find out more about him at can be reached at