This Saturday was a day of high highs, and low lows. The unbridled joy I experienced from having a girl twerk on my hand at an awesome pool party would soon give way to fear and misery, as I found myself in the most depressing place I’d ever been—a Las Vegas hospital. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me set the scene. I’m in Las Vegas (Nevada, NOT Las Vegas, New Mexico) with my dear friend Dave, on Saturday, May 3rd. Dave, a huge boxing fan, got us tickets to the Mayweather vs. Maidana fight. To quickly summarize what our day was like prior to the fight—we arrived at the hotel around 8:30 a.m., we went to a crazy pool party at our hotel and both felt ashamed of our doughy bodies, Dave went on a blackjack run the likes of which I’d never seen, and I fell in love and made dinner plans with our smoking hot Greek cocktail waitress and her sister that she’d “try to bring.” We had originally planned to nap for a while after the pool party, but we were having too much fun to crash and ended up just continuing to drink until it was time to head to the fight.
We arrived at the MGM Grand for the fight around 6:00 p.m. At this point, Dave and I had been drinking since 9:30 a.m. Despite the amount of booze we’d consumed, neither of us were ever really stupid drunk at any point. I am turning into a real adult. After two quick stops for Dave to buy a Money Team hat and to bet on Mayweather by decision, we headed into the arena.
The arena was a zoo. Not an actual zoo—it was definitely a sports arena, but there was a lot of energy and excitement. I love watching a good boxing sport match as much as the rest of them, but as far as my boxing knowledge is concerned, it’s slim to none. Dave, on the other hand, is an encyclopedia, so as he instantly bonded with all the “men’s men” sitting near us by talking shop, I periodically attempted to contribute with generic comments such as “he really seems to have found his rhythm now,” or “he should stop getting hit or he’s gonna lose the fight.” I fooled nobody, and nervously chugged my drink.
Flash forward to around 10:15 p.m. Mayweather won by decision (as Dave predicted), in what was his toughest test to date (or so I’m told). I fired off a quick text to my cocktail waitress assuring her that we were on our way to the restaurant, but would be a little late. No response. We assumed the lack of response was due to her being busy buying a Costco size box of condoms for later in the evening. Dave and I prepared for her to bail, and despite the cool-factor of the story, we were secretly hoping she would, as our 5:00 a.m wake-up and all day boozefest was finally starting to catch up to us. Also, with the cocktail waitress sister’s attendance still unclear, my wingman Dave was about to become my annoying third wheel.
As we started to exit the arena, the scene was a complete shit-show. I’ve exited many arenas in my day, and I’ve never experienced such a wall-to-wall traffic jam of people. I soon figured out what the problem was. As we walked by one of the potential side entrances, security guards were blocking it, forcing the entire arena to exit out of the front entrance. Why would they force fifteen thousand drunk, rowdy people to squeeze through three small doors creating an insane human bottleneck? Because the MGM Grand is run by a bunch of scumbags who would rather force everyone to walk through their casino than allow people to exit safely. As a Jew, I understand the MGM’s “profit first” mentality, but as a human with a brain and a desire not to see people get killed, I found their utter disregard for fan safety to be disturbing.
Every time we rounded a corner expecting to see things open up, we were met with another sea of people as far as the eye could see. And keep in mind, I have GREAT eyes and can see quite far. The MGM had set up a bunch of partitions and blockades to prevent people from exiting in a direction that did not lead to the casino. It was beyond frustrating. After twenty minutes of moving at a snail’s pace, the crowd began to get restless. There was a lot of jostling for position, people bumping into each other, shoes being stepped on, enemies being made, drinks being spilled. Dave almost got into it with a sixty-year-old Asian lady who wouldn’t stop shoving him from behind, but I was confident that between the two of us, we could’ve taken her if things got ugly. At one point, two super-Vegas-looking girls (hookers) pushed through the crowd yelling “hot girls coming through!” As if that’s not annoying enough, one of them wasn’t even that hot. She was a seven at best! I almost called her out about it, but decided to take the high road because I’m a really good guy.
At 10:39 p.m., I sent my cocktail waitress another text, “Let us know when you get there, this place is a zoo and taking forever.” We debated telling her and her yet to be confirmed sister to order a drink on us while they waited, but Dave quickly pointed out that these were Vegas cocktail waitresses, and there was a good shot we’d show up to find them with a magnum of Dom Perignon.
About ten minutes after that text was sent, we started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a thunderous roar behind us. Dave and I both whipped our heads around to see what the commotion was about, as did everyone around us, and we were met with a hysterical human stampede. As much as Dave and I laugh about it now, it was without a doubt one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. It was every man for himself, as everyone furiously scrambled in different directions. Some people made it out of the stampede okay, while other less fortunate people fell and were trampled. People dove over barricades, some were pushed to the ground, and others screamed hysterically. I think Dave and I were both thankful that we were with each other and not girlfriends, or we would’ve felt pressure to act brave and protect them. Since it was just us two dudes, we immediately made a run for it without regard for the other. We instantly got split up, with Dave having run in one direction, and me in another.
At this point, I still have no idea what caused the stampede. Things that ran through my mind included someone having a gun, a bomb going off, or a massive brawl. It would be revealed the next day that a large partition fell, spooking much of the crowd into thinking there was a gun or a bomb and inciting the stampede. After I ran far enough away from the stampede, I looked around and realized I’d lost Dave. Since I didn’t see him escape, I immediately pictured him lying dead on the MGM Grand floor as people picked through his pockets. I headed back to where I lost him and wandered around. It was a horrible scene—discarded heels, spilled drinks, jewelry and purses everywhere, and hysterical women. Despite all the purses and jewelry I saw, at no point did I think about looting, because again, I’m a good guy. I started to panic when I couldn’t find Dave, and since his phone died an hour earlier, finding him in this sea of madness started to seem impossible.
After about two minutes of searching, I heard someone call my name. I turned around, and thankfully, spotted Dave. I was relieved, although I must admit, I was kinda hoping it would be the cute girl I met at the pool earlier who twerked on my hand. Dave waved at me, trying to get my attention, but as soon as I noticed him, he disappeared behind the crowd. I jog over, and find him sprawled out on the floor in a daze, some good samaritans trying to help him up. As soon as I got to him, I saw what caused the fall, as the marble floor is covered in spilled booze and is insanely slippery. He hit his head pretty hard on the marble floor, and seemed to be out of it. He wasn’t bleeding, but he was clearly not in a good way.
Once he was up, we decided we needed to get the hell out of the MGM as quickly as possible. People busted open some emergency exits at this point, and we followed them out. I was immediately met with a woman puking in the bushes, and I couldn’t decide if it was a panicked reaction to what just transpired, or ya know, because it’s Vegas. It was then that Dave realized that when he slipped, he fell in some vomit. He whipped off his soiled shirt, and was now walking down the Vegas strip concussed and shirtless. If you know Dave, this scene is even more hysterical, as Dave is the most responsible, dare I say, least partyish of my friends.
We soon found an entrepreneurial young man selling Mayweather t-shirts on the street, and Dave happily bought one and threw it on. We tried to get a cab to head back to our hotel, but the scene was just as chaotic outside as it was inside. We decided to just hop on the monorail, which would take us somewhat close to our hotel. Once on the monorail, Dave’s injury really started to set in. He was having some vision trouble and his head was pounding. Although, to be fair, I was having similar symptoms on account of the drinking since 9:30 a.m. thing. Still, his symptoms combined with his crippling hypochondria, led to his fated words, “I think I need to go to the hospital.” I wanted to drop to my knees and curse the heavens, but instead, I asked, “are you sure that’s necessary?” “Yes, this is my head, dude, I don’t wanna mess around,” he explained, and so our next stop was now the hospital.
Unable to find a cab, Dave basically bribed a van to take us the two mile drive for fifty bucks. After a more or less silent cab ride, we arrived at Sunrise Hospital. If you want to know what a Las Vegas emergency room is like, picture any emergency room you’ve ever been to, and now imagine if everyone in there was a heroin addict. I am a big-time germaphobe, and Dave might be even worse than than I am, so this was not an ideal environment for us. The first thing we saw when we walked in was a homeless-looking gentleman lying on a bench, feverishly scratching his penis under his pants. A sense of panic immediately set in.
Dave checked in, they took his vitals, determined he wouldn’t drop dead immediately, and told him to take a seat in the waiting room. Meanwhile, I did my best not to touch anything, and desperately tried not to make eye contact with anyone. When Dave asked how long the wait was gonna be, they told him, “it’s going to be a while.” I asked Dave, “are you sure you want to do this?” “I’m here, I’m not gonna leave at this point, but seriously, you don’t have to wait here with me. I’ll make it back okay.” Before the words even left his mouth, I was already out the door. I tried really hard to be a good friend and wait it out, but I couldn’t spend another second in that godforsaken place, especially with no end in sight.
I waited twenty minutes for a cab, and eventually made it back to the hotel. I took a very necessary shower, and settled into bed, praying that Dave made it back okay. It wasn’t so much that I wanted him to be okay (I totally did), but even more importantly, I knew that if something happened to him, I would look like a huge asshole for leaving him behind, and I really don’t need that on my conscience right now. I finally managed to drift off to sleep around 1:30am.
At around 4:30 a.m., I woke up to find Dave emerging from the shower. He appeared to be in one piece. He explained that after I left, the woman sitting next to him in the ER told him that she had been sitting there for EIGHT HOURS. Shortly thereafter, a hospital employee announced that ten ambulances full of people from the MGM just arrived, and they needed immediate attention, so the wait time was going to be a little longer. He decided to jump ship at this point and head back to the hotel. Once in a cab, the driver told him about a private hospital that was twenty minutes away, but would be able to see him within fifteen minutes guaranteed. He decided to suck it up and take the ride.
After arriving at Hospital #2, he was indeed in and out within twenty minutes. He got a CT Scan, and while they confirmed that he suffered a concussion, there was no internal bleeding or anything else he needed to worry about. He thought he was home free, until he then had to wait two full hours for a cab to pick him up. At 4:00 a.m, he shared a cab home with a couple that was also involved in the MGM melee. The woman explained that she had her hand crushed, and in order to get it treated, they needed to take a bone saw to cut off her wedding ring. “Maybe I didn’t have it so bad after all,” I’m assuming Dave thought to himself.
He finally arrived back to the hotel around 4:30 a.m. to find me happily snoozing. After he caught me up about his ordeal, I noticed a voicemail from an NYC number on my phone. Here is the voicemail I received.
Dave and I were both insanely confused. How this woman found my number based solely on my Twitter, I have no idea, but for some reason, I blame Obama. By that time, it was already 7:30 a.m. on the East Coast, so I missed my opportunity to get famous on GMA. We had a good laugh about the insane day, and finally hit the hay.
The next day, the MGM Grand released this tweet in response to the incident -
All is safe at the MGM Grand. Last night security responded promptly to crowd excitement to ensure guest safety.
— MGM Grand Hotel (@MGMGrand) May 4, 2014
We couldn’t help but be outraged by how big of a downplay it was. Calling the furious and violent stampede we witnessed “crowd excitement” is like calling the sinking of the Titanic an “unexpected underwater cruise.” What happened that night was the direct result of the MGM’s unsafe exit protocol, and I hope they take a serious look at their safety procedures. I don’t know how the MGM management can live with themselves knowing that a young man missed out on the opportunity to take a hot bottle girl out to dinner that night. Let us never forget.
Now that we are safely removed from the situation, we’re finally able to laugh about our ordeal. My cocktail waitress never responded to my two post-fight texts, so there’s a good chance she was going to bail all along. We decided to have some fun the next day, so at 12:17pm we texted her, “hey, sorry, things got a little crazy at the MGM last night, but we are on our way to the restaurant now and should be there in ten. Feel free to order apps. See you soon.”
We never got a response.
[Image via USA Today]