The caring folks of Las Vegas

caring folks of Las VegasTwo elderly men were in a Las Vegas supermarket shopping together. One was helping the other, taking items off the shelves and later taking those items from the shopping cart onto the belt at the check-out.

It was clear from their dialog–I was right behind them several times–that they didn’t live together or were in a romantic or even paid caretaker relationship. It was simply a stronger friend helping a frailer friend on what I gathered was a more-or-less regular basis.

This scenario–friends helping weaker friends in everyday shopping situations–is one I’ve encountered over and over in the half-year since becoming New To Las Vegas. Besides assorted supermarkets, I’ve seen it at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes’s and Costco.

I know this flies in the face of Las Vegas’s reputation as a “tough” town. And it might even be hard to square with a crime rate that is several times the national average. But it’s happening here, and it warms the heart.

Undoubtedly, such acts of kindness regularly take everywhere across the country. But Las Vegas seems to have a greater share of elderly folks in the population than any other place I’ve lived, which is a bunch (Seattle, Los Angeles area, Albuquerque, Houston, New York, Philadelphia area). And, I am happy to report, a significant number of caring friends.

Perhaps because of the larger senior citizen population, I see a lot more examples of this behavior here. At a Wal-Mart near my home,  I recently watched as two older women in the pharmacy section shopped for vitamins. Actually, it looked to me like just one was really shopping. The other, who had been pushing a pretty full shopping cart, took various containers from the shelf and read off the contents to her friend, who passed judgment. “No,” she said to the first one. “Nope,” to the second. “Okay,” she said to the third offering, apparently because it contained more iron.

In the lighting aisle of a Home Depot, I observed two elderly men–it always seems to be folks of the same gender–discuss the merits of various kinds of energy-efficient bulbs and their illumination equivalents as they moved along. The taller one clearly was assisting the shorter one, who was clutching a shopping list but seemed a little befuddled.

I later found myself behind these two at the check-out counter. One by one, Mutt removed each item of a cart by then full of routine household items–including light bulbs–for scanning. At the end, Jeff thanked him for his help. Happy to oblige, Mutt replied.

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