When I first moved to New York City, I started working in the Financial District. At the end of the day, on my way to the subway, people would stand on the street corners handing out little cards or flyers. These people mostly tried to get the attention of men. I’d catch a glimpse of the flyers and saw that they advertised gentlemen’s clubs. I wasn’t naive about New York, and I wasn’t surprised about the kind of effort that went into promoting that kind of business. However, I was bothered, and there were times that I wanted to knock the flyers from the hands of one of those people, but then I realized that if they scattered onto the sidewalks and streets that anyone could read the flyers. Children and women, decent men. While it’s true that there are corrupt children and unwholesome women, I still held onto my hope that innocence still roamed the streets. I wanted to preserve that as much as I could.
Last week Reilly and I went to Las Vegas to attend a friend’s wedding. It was my first time to Sin City, and I was excited to let as much as possible stay in Vegas. We walked a lot and looked at the shops and lights. All along the Strip, people passed out flyers for gentlemen’s clubs and peep shows, almost like how it was done in New York. The one main difference is that the people got your attention by clapping the flyers against their hands. I avoided eye contact, but hands stretched from all directions, and it turned into a pretty challenging obstacle course.
They annoyed me at first, but I looked at how many there were, and I wondered how they were getting paid. Even women passed out the flyers, and then I wondered if that was the only way they could support families. I wondered if they considered a better way, if they had a better way, if they even had a choice. I wondered if they were able to shut off their conscience, to ignore the images on the cards they handed out. Instead of being angry at what those people were doing, I was sad. It’s a shame that they have to do that at all. It’s unfortunate that they make it happen in Vegas. It’s a tragedy that they’ll probably have to stay there.
(I’ll write a more upbeat post about Vegas one day. This has been on my mind for a while, though.)