August 30, 2003 in Current Events

One-Way Ticket Economy

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Yet another reason why I’m not a big fan of Las Vegas.

A Gamble On Hitting The Payroll In Las Vegas
For Texas Couple, Living On Margin Just Got Worse
By David Finkel, Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 31, 2003; Page A01
LAS VEGAS: The worst year in the life of Alex Arreguin III ends where it began, in the Greyhound bus station on Main Street.
This time Arreguin, 43, isn’t arriving, he’s leaving. It isn’t midnight, but the afternoon, and instead of walking out of the bus station, he is sitting on the dirty floor while his companion, Diane Garcia, 39, is out front, wrestling down her doubts with a cigarette.
Stay or go? That’s what she is out there wondering.
What happened? That’s what he is wondering.
In search of a better life, the two came here from recession-hit Texas last summer. With Las Vegas’s distinction as the fastest-growing area of the United States, there seemed no better place for two people to find good jobs.
But 54 weeks have taught them a hard-earned truth: that in a fragile economy, if one thing goes wrong, a person on the margins can very quickly skid into what they have become — broke, jobless and without a home. Silly with promise when they arrived, they are now creatures of charity, from the donated clothes they are wearing, to the dismal places they have been sleeping, to the bus tickets back to Houston that they were presented with just an hour before by a local social services organization.


  1. September 2, 2003 at 9:30 am


    Well, I don’t think the barriers to getting a job were exactly insurmountable for anyone but the ill-prepared…$70 for a work and health license working in a hotel? I would hope so! Reliable transportation? When that’s becoming too much to ask to get a job, that’s a little sad.
    Besides, they had jobs they could get handing out fliers of nudie girls in pamphlets. They quit in 10 minutes…doesn’t tell me a lot about their work ethic.
    Call me bias…but I don’t think the fact that a couple that comes to the city broke with no prospects and no place to live, and can’t make it in your city shows the failure of your city.

  2. August 31, 2003 at 9:33 am


    That may be true. But Texas isn’t advertising itself as the new promise-land. Almost everything you read about Las Vegas talks about how the town is growing by leaps and bounds and how there are jobs to be had for anyone who wants one. So its sad to hear about these people who scraped up there last few hundred dollars to move to Las Vegas for a better life but end up in a worst situation.

  3. August 31, 2003 at 7:15 am


    Didn’t sound like it was much better in Texas.

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