The Banshee – By Pip Helix (Davin’s Den)

Mr. Helix and I were recently out in Las Vegas, where there are tons of service jobs available.  Between all of the casinos and the entertainment and food establishments on The Strip, not to mention the incredible number of taxis in the city, there is plenty of work for everyone.  Unfortunately, that means there is also plenty of turn-over of employees, with all of them jockeying for a better position, which sometimes leads to really shoddy service, or plain old stupidity.

For example – after a show, a little group of us went across the street to the ice cream shop for dessert.  Unbeknownst to us, a casino’s water main broke just up the road, and soon the walking mall street just outside was flooding, and the water was breeching the curb.  Instead of telling the customers in the store what was happening, the worker bees waited until it was almost impossible to leave the store without walking in the cholera water, and then yelled at us that if we wanted to get out of the area before we were trapped, we had better leave that moment.  When we expressed shock, they asked us if we didn’t already know what was happening. Why would we have known?  You couldn’t hear it inside the store, and no one said a word.  They just started furiously cleaning up, but we thought they were getting ready to close at their normal time.  No one said a word about Noah or gathering animals two at a time.  How stupid of us not to expect to drop our ice creams and run in the event of a flood…in the desert.

It’s easy to get frustrated with the service people there, when some cabbies don’t know how to get from one place to another (somewhere a London cabbie just gasped), and the kid getting your Starbucks frappasomething doesn’t think twice about taking a personal phone call before filling your order.  I get the frustration, I really do.  You spent a mint on tickets to one of the various Cirque du Soleil shows available out there, rushed through dinner, and now all you want is a friggin’ cab over to the casino where the show with flying pigs and acrobatic Chinese accupuncturists…only to get stuck in a long cab line.
That’s how they do it there, outside of the casinos.  The cabs line up at the cab stands, and people are paid to stand there to match cabs with anyone who walks up and wants one.  When you are used to catching cabs in New York by hurling yourself bodily in front of them while whistling and flashing your boobs to get them to stop, this is quite a difference – a welcome difference most of the time.

Not, however, according to The Banshee. This middle-aged, shoulder-length brunette-haired soccer mom was standing behind Mr. Helix and me, absolutely FREAKING OUT because she had to wait on line for a taxi. 

Now, I have to explain that in front of this particular casino, Paris, they have one line for taxis, and a separate place where people walk up and ask for limos.  The older gentleman who was the taxi hailer would alternately get a cab, help the old people and frail into the cab, and then move on to hailing the next limo, then another cab, etc.  It was a little frustrating watching him have to help all of the folks get into their cabs okay, because there seemed to be a surplus of the infirmed in line in front of us, but really, it was his JOB.  And what was he to do, hail the cab and just hope that the elderly got into it okay before getting run down by the next cab?  No, he helped them in, and then moved on, as any decent person would.
The Banshee was complaining, loudly, about how this was RIDICULOUS, having to WAIT for him to stop and help people get into the car.  How DARE he stop and take people from over there (the limo folks) when WE HAVE BEEN WAITING HERE FOREVER.  This old man was INCOMPETENT, WHY were we STILL WAITING, (dramatic SIGH), OH MY GOD… ad nauseum. Her husband was quietly agreeing with her, but no one else was complaining – just quietly waiting.
I stood there mute, listening to this extended fit, feeling very sorry for the taxi hailer, and even more sorry for this man’s wife, who must’ve been treated to this sort of epic freak-out more than just that once.  I glanced at Mr. Helix, and he had a little grin, because he was enjoying the show.  I wonder how much he would have enjoyed the show if it was his own Mrs. Helix launching into this tirade, probably the third one of the day?

I completely understand righteous indignation when someone in a service position is treating you very badly or being legitimately incompetent and it is costing you money, pain, or a lot of precious time.  I understand sighing and eye-rolling when people are repeatedly getting your order wrong, or nearly accidentally trapping you inside of a flooding ice cream shop due to lack of communication.  But ripping this old guy to shreds for doing his job, albeit a little slowly, because he had to see to the safety and comfort of each person?  That, Banshee, was over the top. 

Whenever you get the urge to be the Banshee, think again about the people around you, who are suffering from your incredible negativity, and who are not getting any benefit from having to wait AND listen to your ranting at the same time.  You will get into the cab eventually, and all of that hot air will have been blown for nothing.  Also, think about the taxi-hailer, standing outside in 100 degree heat, wearing a ridiculous uniform, helping ungrateful people into cabs for hours on end.  Do you really have to hurl criticism at him the whole time?  Did that enhance your stay?

I called it –  Taxi Hailer 1, Banshee – a big zero 0. 

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