What happened to my colleague Rick was less of a fairy tale and more like the plot of The Hangover. And yes, it takes place in Vegas.
Rick was going through a divorce, because of course he was.
And not just any divorce.
This was one of those knock-down, drag-out cautionary tale divorces that would make even the sweetest newlyweds reconsider the institution. Rick’s wife had been cheating on him for a while and had finally come clean. And Rick? He didn’t take it so well. He looked like he’d been put through one of those aging apps and then melted like a candle.
Anyway, Rick was pretty banged up when he and his colleague Butch landed in Vegas. They were there to train a group of salespeople on their company’s software. Normally this wouldn’t have been an exciting excursion, but Rick was eager to blow off steam at the blackjack tables. It was the exact kind of trip he thought he needed.
Important detail for later: Butch and Rick had agreed to share a room to save the company money. They figured it would be fine since they were pals. Bros, even. They dropped off their bags and headed for the gaming floor.
Cut to the pair of colleagues at a blackjack table.
Rick couldn’t stop hitting 21s. It was everything he’d hoped for.
Until the call came in.
Rick’s phone buzzed. It was his lawyer back home.
He picked up and got the news: apparently his soon-to-be-ex-wife wanted their dog in the divorce.
Now. Spud wasn’t just any dog. He was one of those dogs. Sure, he walked and ran and hiked with Rick on the regular, but he was also Rick’s best confidant. Some people have therapists; Rick had Spud.
Have you ever seen a grown man cry at a blackjack table? Because that’s what happened. Butch tried to calm Rick down, but before he could get two words in, Rick stood up, grabbed his phone, and dialled his wife. If onlookers thought the crying was rock bottom, they were not ready for the scene that came next. Shouting, pleading. You name it. Where the pit boss was, God only knows. By the time Rick was done, every blackjack player in the area was staring at him, and when he finally hung up and took his seat next to Butch again, his face was tomato red and his sweat was dripping into his Pilsner.
You’d think this moment would be the man’s low point.
But no. No, no, no, it gets worse.
Because just as Rick’s heart rate returns to a stable level, Butch’s phone lights up…with a photo of Rick’s wife in a flirty pose on the screen.
And that, dear reader, is how Rick found out that Butch — his own buddy, colleague, and Vegas roomie — was “the guy” his wife had been cheating on him with all along.
At this point, Butch is pleading for Rick’s forgiveness, but Rick is not having it. He books it out of the casino.
This is when he realizes, Shit. I can’t go back to my hotel room and risk facing that son of a bitch. In fact, I can’t go back to that room ever again.
So instead, Rick gets brown liquor drunk. Wasted. Plastered. So shitcanned I’m not even sure there’s a word for it. He stumbles from bar to bar and casino to casino, weaving his way through the chaotic streets of Sin City.
When Rick wakes up, his head is throbbing…
And he’s face down on the front lawn of the Excalibur.
He’s got no wallet, no keys, and only one shoe. (Somehow he still has two hundred dollars.) He realizes that without his ID, he has no way to fly home, but instead of returning to his room to get his stuff, he goes to the bus depot and hops a Greyhound for an excruciating 15-hour bus ride back to New Jersey. When he gets home, he doesn’t bother going to work or calling to explain why he missed the training session in Vegas. Instead, he quits his job, changes fields, and vows to never set foot in Nevada again.
Sometimes life gives you lemons.
Sometimes you can try to make (vodka) lemonade, but it tastes like garbage.
These things can’t be helped.
But if working in business all these years has taught me anything, it’s that there’s one thing you can control: always get your own room at a conference.