ACM Awards: Nine Lessons I Learned From Vegas Cab Drivers

Since I landed in Las Vegas for the ACM Awards a few days ago, I’ve taken nine cabs rides. Because one thing no one ever tells you about Las Vegas is that even though you can see your destination , it doesn’t mean you can easily walk there. I learned that lesson the hard way. In 2011. In stilettos.

And the whole cab thing isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. You can’t hail cabs. You have to do things the Vegas way and get in taxi lines and wait your turn while some official taxi-getter opens the door for you and tells the cab driver your destination.

But once you’re in, you’re in. And those long drives up and down the strip, and sometimes up and down the back streets, can really open your eyes if you have a chatty cabby.

Here’s what my cab drivers have taught me so far:

1. Country fans cannot hold their liquor. That is especially ironic when you consider all of our songs about going out drinking. Maybe we’re just the kind of folks who can handle moonshine and Jack and Crown but not 30-ounce screwdrivers by the pool.

2. Ethiopians love country music. Especially ballads and Alan Jackson and Kenny Rogers. Now, I don’t have international sales numbers to support this, but that particular cab driver was pretty convincing.

3. The weekend of the ACM Awards is the best the Las Vegas weather ever gets. If it was in the summer, when it can get up to 120 degrees, we’d all melt during the outdoor events.

4. The house always wins. Always. It doesn’t care how smart or lucky you think you are, you can bet you’ll go home with less money than you came with.

5. The best way to get around and avoid gridlocked traffic on the Strip is to rent a motorbike.

6. A typical Friday or Saturday night brings in a lot of vomit. One driver told me he usually has to go back to the cab yard and switch cars about three times a night because of what his passengers claim is just motion sickness. (See also No. 1.)

7. In the time before cellphones (BC) and the incessant checking of cellphones, the gamblers in Vegas casinos rarely knew what time it was because there are no clocks in casinos. Nor are there windows. So does anybody really know what time it is? No. And that’s exactly the way the casinos want it.

8. Remember when Las Vegas tried to market itself as a family-friendly destination? That didn’t work. That will never work. Vegas is and always will be a place for grownups doing grown-up things. Leave the kids at home.

9. Country fans are the best tippers. At the end of every ride, if you pay for the ride with a credit card, you have the opportunity to tip 20, 30 or 40 percent. One driver told me he makes more money in tips throughout ACM weekend than any other weekend of the year. He wishes country fans would come to Vegas more often. Bless his heart.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.