SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 325: “It Was No Roll Of The Dice”

“Dodgers fans!” I blurb out to the father of the family that is sitting next to my daughter and I as we enjoy day three of the role reversal my wife and I are experimenting with this week.

It’s been an interesting week, and to couples of the world… I suggest you try it if your lifestyle allows. It’s an eye opener.

But more than sharing a table at Phillips, a local hot spot, and home of the West Coast’s undisputed greatest French Dip sandwich, as well as mixer of the most wonderful sinus clearing mustard, my friend of sandwiches enjoyed tells me of his port of call. “I’m from Las Vegas, we came here for the whole experience before going to the game tonight.”

Never am I one to pass on chatting with a fellow Vegan (I was raised there and, until deep into the eighties, had a studio just off the Strip). And now, with 365 in my life, it would be downright rude to not ask my fellow desert dweller to be part of the project.

With the manners of ambassador for the people, my new friend, Alex gives me a little background. “I’m in law enforcement,” he explains his profession as he accepts my friendship.

And in his description of his job title, he dispels any myths of the volatile gun-toting police officer. “I like my job… Yes, there are a lot of people committing crimes in Vegas, but I still realize that they are still people. My job is to stay calm and to talk people down.”

What strikes me profound is that, even though Alex works in the center of the mix of good and bad, he holds the greatest of compassion for his fellow human; be it at his best, or more resoundingly, when he is at his worst, Alex differs not in holding a respect to all. There is a to the point wisdom in his every word and in what he says he emits a great understanding of the human condition.

“Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” Alex informs as he advises us, “Don’t go out after midnight…

…And if you do… be aware of your surroundings. If you are out after midnight… your goal should be to get home.”

There is no alarming tone in his voice, no contempt for society and absolutely no implications of any desire to instill fear into his accompanying family.

Las Vegas… Sin City. But, as illustrated by Alex, also home to many loving and caring families. I know this first hand after living a large portion of my life there. Even have a sister and her family who still reside there in loving the three digit summers.

I’ll not hide the fact that I had my share of all night casino and club adventures in my youthful days. Days when vice overpowered virtue, and being the young hip photographer that I was (well I’m still pretty hip for an old married dude, just a bit wiser), there were moments where the temptations the city had to offer overcame my common sense in pushing me into whatever binge I decided.

But now, with a few more years under my belt, a child, a family and a different spiritual outlook to the whys of our existence, my priorities have shifted a tad. Plus, I’m sure my body and brain would rebel against me if I even considered putting it through the same rigors again.

But what is amazingly refreshing is seeing so many of the upcoming generation embracing the very values of which I am referring to. And in comparing the way I looked at the world in earlier years, I have to credit them for their maturity.

Case in point, Alex is not alone, he has with him his entire family (not pictured), and in their eyes I see an awareness that I have observed in many a 2012 youth. An awareness that is further confirmed by the unity that all of Alex’s family project in the intentness they have for our discussion.

We get to the point of what can we do about the way people treat each other in looking at the years to come.

“As a society we should steer more toward education.” Alex suggests, “Secondary education; education after high school, whether it is technical or professional… it doesn’t matter… just going off to college.

I believe if the world is an educated place, it’s a more positive place… it’s a more loving place… it’s a more peaceful place. It’s seems there are a lot of real uneducated people who ruin the world.

The way I see it is that the world should embrace education. And if more did, then hopefully that would lead to everybody having better lives. The more educated people we have… the less people we would have in jail… At least that is my opinion.

If more people were able to receive a proper education… we would probably see a more productive society.

We need to focus on a better education for our kids and our grand kids.”

Yep, Las Vegas, city of fortunes made and of dreams destroyed. A land where anything goes… and what is sacrificed is often hidden, ignored or forgotten. A place that I know first hand can extract the boldest of fantasies and offer materialistic rewards of endless color. A vacation destination of the most glorious character, a city when entered with the correct value system, can produce lasting memories.

But contrasting the globally published persona that it bears, it is a diverse community of caring citizens; real people with real families… families who have valid concerns for the world ahead.

“We need to focus on a better education for our kids and our grand kids,” Alex platforms.

Words that many a concerned father might say. But after knowing where Alex works… what he does for a living… and the acts he has most likely witnessed, I view him as a man who is credentialed to make his claim.

“The way I see it is that the world should embrace education. And if more did, then hopefully that would lead to everybody having better lives. The more educated people we have… the less people we would have in jail…”

Alex… we value your opinion. Please don’t stop keeping the streets safe for us… we appreciate what you do and the compassion of your outlook.

And as for me… midnight…? No worries…! That’s my bedtime.

Talk tomorrow friends.