No one ever expects to croak while on vacation. I certainly never entertained the idea, except maybe on the occasional extra-bumpy flight, until a recent trip to Las Vegas when I nearly choked to death.
For one thing, obviously, I lived.
We were staying at the Red Rock Hotel and Casino recently, my husband’s and my favorite casino resort. I was seated at a Super X’s video spin poker machine when I felt a churning, burning, gas bubble working its way up my throat, no doubt the result of an early Saturday morning brunch that was serving cheap champagne in which I regretfully indulged. Long story short, whatever I urped up suddenly lodged in my trachea and it closed off. I tried to breathe in but nothing happened except the shrill sound of a closed-off wind pipe. The lady sitting at the machine next to me noticed my gasping and asked, “Are you alright?”
I shook my head no and frantically pointed to my back. She began hitting me on my back. “Harder,” I mouthed. She then put it into high gear, seeing the panic on my face.
After a few moments I was able to take in some squeaky breaths and then started breathing again.
When I could finally talk, I thanked the lady profusely.
“That happens to me sometimes, too,” she said, sympathetically. “I have a sinus condition. It’s scary when it happens.”
Of all people to get seated next to at the casino, I get seated next to a seasoned choker. Talk about winning the good Samaritan lottery!
After a few minutes I cashed out my ticket, thanked my guardian angel again, and headed back to the room. As it happened, that night the casino was having a special promotion — every ten minutes, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., they were randomly giving away $1,000.00. Any gambler who had their player’s card in a machine had a chance to win. With hopes of winning big, my husband and I scrambled back down to the casino to get our cards in a machine. I decided to go back and resume playing at my nearly fatal machine, and when I got there I saw that my humble life-saver was still playing at hers.
“This is the lady who saved my life,” I said to my husband.
After about a half hour of playing my new friend, whose name I finally learned was Arlene, turned and said to me quizically, “My machine’s not working.” Within moments a group of casino employees appeared at her side with an enormous check in the amount of $1,000.00. Truth be told, it was the only time I was truly happy to see someone else win a grand who was sitting right next to me. I whooped and hollered and gave her a big hug.
When the casino employees took out the camera to take her picture, she insisted I get in the photo with her.
“Please?!” she cajoled. “I want to have proof for my husband that I saved someone’s life!” Her husband (they were locals) was at home laid up after knee surgery. She’d been taking care of him for weeks and her told her to go out and have some fun that day.
From saving a complete stranger’s life to winning a jackpot all in one day.
If you ever wondered if Karma ever trumps Lady Luck, now you know.