Earth Rider, Elvis and Robot Dancer in Vegas

By Judy Berman

It’s 7:30 a.m. We’re on our way to breakfast and we see Elvis walking along The Strip.

Huge pompadour. Tight white pantsuit with rhinestones, and he looks like 5 miles of bad road. No one seems surprised to see him. That’s to be understood. Elvis, superheroes, robot dancers and all kinds of characters are the real draw in Vegas.

Take a recent taxi ride Dave and I were in. Cabbies can give the real lowdown to tourists on the economy, the hot spots and the best places to eat. They also can be entertaining.

On one ride, we listened in with the driver to the chatter over the two-way on how to handle a Visa credit card from Austria.

Quite a few cabbies got on the two-way radio to offer their advice. One said he’d used his Visa in Mexico City without any problems.

Our cabbie jumped on and said, “Yeah. But that was for bail money.”

Laughter from his passengers in the back seat.

I’ll admit I’m a people-watcher. I chat with strangers on the bus, in casino restaurants, on the elevator and on the street. Now, at night, on our bus along The Strip, a passenger made the most of his captive audience to complain about how the pricier casinos screen who they’ll allow to play.

“They asked what I did for a living,” the thin, elderly man said to me and others close by. “I told them I’m an Earth Rider.”

And, I thought, aren’t we all.

We get off outside Bellagio’s and stop to watch a street performer dance robot-like moves. It seems like there’s an Elvis, Darth Vader, guitar- strummer or dancer on every street corner. This irritates some. Others, such as me on this night, find this performer entertaining. Some girl jumped in to dance next to him. She was showing off for her friends, but the dancer handled her intrusion very graciously.

When he finished his dance, I put a dollar in his tip jar. He moved quickly, still dancing robotically, put his hand on my left shoulder and gave me a wide smile. I bowed my head slightly and beamed back before heading into the casino.

That’s something we all need – to know that we exist and are appreciated. I walked away smiling as I felt I had received more than I gave.

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