When I was growing up here in the 1970s, I used to flip the handlebars up on my 10-speed road bike, drape a canvas sack over them, pedal my bike across what were then just four lanes of Rancho Drive traffic, and faithfully shuttle about 60 copies of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to six cul-de-sacs just north of Rancho Bel Air. This brought in about $60 a month. I perfected the throw and could deliver both sides of the cul-de-sac on one pass, using both hands if it was a thin-paper day. Saturday papers were so small, I could fold, stuff, deliver and be home in time for Jonny Quest.
A few years later, I had my first collision with the business end of the Strip. I was always angling for extra dough, and my buddy Jeff and I, through his father (this city’s always run on juice), occasionally found ourselves doing Vegas odd jobs like delivering firewood to neighbors in Jeff’s VW Microbus (but that’s another story, for another season).
One day Jeff called me and asked if I wanted to help him with a delivery for a quick 50 bucks; I didn’t even ask what we were delivering, I just said yes. Hell, $50 was almost 14 hours of slinging Quarter Pounders—my main source of cash at the time. Jeff picked me up in the VW, and off we went to some nondescript building on East Tropicana and drove around back to the loading dock.
A stocky, self-assured proto-nerd sporting glasses, jeans and a short-sleeve button-down pointed us over to 10 huge LCD panels.
“These need to go to Caesars Palace, to the sportsbook,” he said matter-of-factly. “And don’t drop them; they cost about $50,000 each.”
It turned out two teenagers would be delivering the latest-tech reader boards for the casino’s mega sportsbook remodel. We had to haul them, one by one, across the casino floor on a busy, hot Saturday afternoon. There were some sweaty palms, several choice words between Jeff and me, and a few near misses, but we got them all delivered safely.
I got my $50, and Caesars got its new mega book.