Should I Give That Crying Girl a Ride to the Bus Station?

No. Even though I once did. I was driving to lunch with my gal and my mom when we spotted a twenty-something woman near the 7-Eleven at Oakey and Las Vegas boulevards. Dressed in a bohemian blouse, denim cutoffs and sandals, with a pricey SLR camera around her neck and carrying a bag of souvenirs and snacks while studying a printed Internet map, she looked everything like a wayward music festival attendee. I lowered the driver’s window and yelled, “Are you lost?” Between sobs (and with a thick European accent) she said, “I’m looking for the Greyhound station.” Her bus was leaving in 15 minutes!

After polling my passengers, we all agreed (well, not Mom) to offer her a lift to the station a few minutes away. It was a quick, easy decision; after all, she appeared harmless enough. And, likely, so did we. She hesitated for only a moment before hopping in the backseat (my mother swiftly relocating her purse) and wiping away tears.

Her story seemed reasonable: She was visiting friends in California and decided on a bus trip to Vegas (her first) to see a Cirque show. Not only was she lost, but she had misjudged the walking distance to the bus station–easy to do along Las Vegas Boulevard. Moments later, she was thanking us as she hurried into the station. We continued our quest for lunch. No harm, no foul.

Later, I discovered Mom was convinced the woman was a hooker running from a pimp. And whenever I run down the bullet points, I’m forced to admit it sounds a little … Vegasy: Attractive young woman, standing alone on a Strip street corner that actress Mindy Kaling derided as “sketchy” … sporting short-shorts … carrying no luggage … crying, and desperately trying to get to the bus station … the day after a big boxing weekend … with an Eastern European accent. Duh!

So, in Vegas, does one-plus-one equal hooker? Often, I have learned, it does. Still, a query of acquaintances slightly favors the woman’s story, though one hedged his bet: “Either way, you did her a favor.” Perhaps. But, those probably aren’t the kind of favors one should get in the habit of doing here. Next time, I’ll err on the side of my seasoned Vegas profiling skills and call a cab–no matter how harmless things may appear.

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