Last year my husband and I spent a week in Vegas together. I was 7 months pregnant with our second son; he had just come out of a head-spinning 3-day bachelor party for his best bud when I joined him. Needless to say, we were both looking forward to some rest and relaxation. So we fled the strip to the beautiful Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa. Location: The middle of nowhere.
Over the course of that week we did a whole glorious lot of not much, primarily involving the consumption of savory Mexican food, drinking delectable cocktails (Blue ICEEs for me!), swimming, and copious amounts of lounging in the sun. We didn’t visit the strip often except to see David Copperfield, do some sightseeing, and eat more Mexican food. We also didn’t do any gambling. It’s not really my thing, and my husband was all gambled out by day two of the bachelor party.
On our last night in Vegas we went to the Westin hotel on the strip to catch a taxi to the airport. While we were waiting I decided I couldn’t leave Vegas without placing at least one bet. So I made my way over to the Roulette table, took all the cash we had out of my purse, and put it on Red-18. And won! As I gathered up my chips I heard my husband telling me to get a move on – our taxi had arrived. Great! I thought. We’ll have cash to pay for the ride. I hustled over to exchange my chips. While I was waiting, I caught sight of a middle-aged hotel cleaning lady who was standing nearby with her cart. She flashed me a genuinely authentic ear-to-ear grin and congratulated me on my winnings. At that moment my money was handed to me. I took it and without a second thought, promptly handed all of it over to her. She accepted it without hesitation, but with surprise and gratitude splashed across her tired face.
Okay, okay…so my “Vegas Winnings” only amounted to $100. Not a massive sum by any stretch, but not insignificant either. And I’m no millionaire. But it probably meant more to her than it did to me. And it would almost certainly have a greater “happiness effect” on her than on me.
Like almost anybody who gambles there, the “what if” scenarios went through my mind as we were leaving Las Vegas. What if I’d bet $100K instead of what I did? Imagine that – I could retire! What if I had…and it landed on Black-13?? But mostly, I thought about how lucky I was to have spent such a superb and work-free week with my husband in the dessert. How lucky I am to have a career I love so much it feels like I’m mostly on ‘Staycation’ all year long, and provides an excellent living.
Money definitely can’t buy you happiness in life, and giving it away is certainly only one of many ways to be kind. But it can be one means to a source of joy, especially for those who work so hard for relatively so little. I hope that cleaning lady did something unabashedly joyful for herself with that $100. Like bask in the sunshine on a fancy hotel lounger for a day, with an ICEE in her hand.