I don’t know how I feel after October 1st.
I wasn’t at the festival, and the people I’m acquainted with that were came home okay. I don’t feel entitled, really, to feel sad, because of that. But in the days since then, I can’t help but feel like someone poked a hole in all of my balloons.
My city always felt safe. That’s not to say there wasn’t violence that went on here before, but it was to such a small degree that it was easy for most parts of the city to forget about. It’s a city where I felt comfortable walking around at five in the morning, or midnight even as young teenager. Las Vegas has never been at the top of any “dangerous city” list; our crime rate even decreased between 2015 and 2016. You might lose your money here, but your life, especially as a tourist, was always a safe bet.
I worked at Mandalay Bay as a teenager. My first job was inside the Shark Reef gift shop, stacking stuffed animals and selling shark tooth necklaces. While no one in my immediate circle was at the festival that year, I’ve had family attend in years prior. Being in such close proximity to an act of terror is sobering, and confusing in a way I haven’t yet experienced. Knowing that these things can continue to happen, is even more grievous to me.
When I read about the victims, hoping that the number stays where it is and no one else succumbs to injuries, I can’t help but notice how many of the deceased weren’t from here. I think, and I might be wrong about this, that fact makes it feel different for the rest of the country. This shooting affects more than just one city. The victims were from all over the country, here simply to have a good time. If you can’t relax and be free on vacation, when can you be?
The other main thing I can’t get my head around is – why here? Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination, but it’s not a pivotal place in terms of politics. We’re not an import/export hub, we’re not even the state capital. Las Vegas is a desert getaway, a place to come when you want to let your hair down and forget about real life for a while. You’re suppose to be safe here. Thankfully, to the quick response of our local SWAT and other law enforcement officers, as well as the security team at Mandalay Bay, the damage stopped after minutes. Hundreds were hurt, and many died, but without their quick action it could have been much, much worse.
If you’ve never been here before, I hope you decide to visit one day. If you have been, I hope you come back. With your help, we can be the infamous party city we’ve always been. While this dark cloud looms over our heads now, eventually, the neon will shine through once more.
To those who lost family and friends, I’m so sorry. To the police and the firefighters and the medics that confronted the shooter and got people help, thank you. To the everyday Joes who risked their own safety to get people out, I applaud you. I hope all of you, one day, will feel safe again, and find some peace.