Jibber Jabber – Vegas won’t back down

Chad T. Jones, Public Affairs Officer

Tom “Fricken” Petty was/is/will always be awesome!

I’m listening to his “Full Moon” album right now and losing count at how many times I’ve lost my voice butchering his lyrics at the top of my lungs.

I bet if I put my mind to it, I could write a column filled with references to Petty’s music.

For example, I could focus on how I won’t back down to my computer after Monday’s Windows 10 migration — a painful process that has me running down a dream of one day being able to log on without making four clicks or waiting 40 minutes for my email to load.

The joy of success would send me free falling into middle-management bliss. Reality, however, has me yearning for a Last dance with Mary Jane.

Of course, homage columns are lame, so I will not disrespect Petty or the Heartbreaker’s legacy any further.

News of Petty’s death — or at least hospitalization — was lost on many because of the tragic events that happened in Las Vegas Sunday night.

Most people I know have at least one Vegas story they like to share — edited, of course, to keep from incrimination.

I’m no different: 1996 was a crappy year for yours’ truly. By the end of the summer I lost my job as the worst maintenance man ever, received an eviction notice from my first-floor apartment, and was thoroughly rejected by love.

I was low and out of options when a former colleague knocked on my door.

“Your brother called,” my buddy told me because my phone had been disconnected. “He said it was important.”

So I went to the pay phone at the local 7-Eleven to make a collect call.

“Let’s move to Vegas” is all my older brother said. I agreed, and two days later we hopped in my POC Buick Skylark with $700, two cartons of smokes each, and no clue what was next.

Moving to Vegas was the seminal moment of my life that literally changed everything.

We lost most of our “stake” at a little hotel right on the Nevada border. But I still was ready to take on the world when I rolled onto Fremont Street for the first time because I was in Vegas, Baby, and anything was possible.

Pay-by-the-day jobs kept food/booze in my gut and a roof over my head most nights. It also showed me how tough I could be.

I worked my way into a full-time job and made $1,200 on a New Year’s Day parlay. But after a man named “Scruff” chronicled his life in the back of a bus with his wife, Diana, I decided I needed a bit more out of life than the occasional but euphoric stroll to the window to cash-in a winner.

That’s when a friend, and veteran, named John took me to the local recruiting station. About a month later, I was in the Army, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Maybe I still would’ve met my wife, had my kids, found Islam, bought a nice house and achieved the middle-class dream without moving to Vegas. But I doubt it.

You see the best thing about Vegas isn’t the money, the cool mob stories, the buffets, or even how cool it looks when you fly into McCarron at night to see an oasis of lights in the middle of a sea of blackness.

The best thing about Vegas is the hope of knowing that tomorrow can always be better. You take that confidence with you, and it makes you braver than you thought you could be. That may be why so many people caught in a rain of bullets Sunday night stayed to help people they didn’t know.

The hope also makes you stronger. That’s why I know the city, including my brother who still lives there with his wife and kids 21 years after that fateful phone call, won’t back down from Sunday’s terror.

In fact, I’ll wager my salary that Vegas will be cashing in its winning ticket sooner than we think.

If you have comments on this or anything to do with sports, contact me at chad.t.jones.civ@mail.mil or hit me up on Twitter @CTJIbber.

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