North Las Vegas is widely considered to be one of the more dangerous places in the Las Vegas Valley.
Of course, neighborhoods a few blocks off the Strip or around downtown (near where I live) don’t exactly have the best reputation either, but the vibe of the area is completely different. There are luxury high-rise condos a few streets off the Strip, so it actually becomes quite ironic, in that both the richest and poorest people in Las Vegas end up intermingling (albeit, it’s often the rich literally looking down upon the poor from hundreds of feet in the air from the safety of their guard-gated skyscrapers).
North Las Vegas, on the other hand, often gives off a “rough” and “run down” feel. There are no dichotomous elements to the neighborhoods, so it just seems like a regular mid- to low-income area.
Yesterday, I was browsing through some restaurants to see if I could find something new to try. I came across Teriyaki Boy Healthy Grill, described by Google as an “Asian counter-serve restaurant doling out grilled meat and rice bowls along with boba smoothies.” There were five locations in Las Vegas: one in Enterprise, one in Henderson, one just shy of Summerlin, one in East Las Vegas, and one in North Las Vegas. Being on the northern side of the Strip, the closest branch to me was the one in North Las Vegas.
Lately, I’ve been driving out to the suburbs on a regular basis, acting as my own food delivery driver, just to see how Las Vegans were handling COVID-19 quarantine in the outskirts of the Valley. One of the places I hadn’t been to so far was North Las Vegas, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to check out the area and gather some information. I put in my order for pick-up at North Las Vegas and hop on I-15 for the quick six-mile drive up north.
The drive on the freeway was quick and smooth. Once I get to the Cheyenne exit, I take the right two lanes and exit the freeway. Out of nowhere, the right two lanes suddenly expand to six lanes, three going westbound and three going eastbound. I needed to go east, so I kept right at the fork. … Except the three lanes going eastbound weren’t actually three lanes. It was only two.
I cross to the right-most lane, assuming it would be a turn lane, but no, it’s actually a shoulder—the most massive shoulder I had ever seen in my life, even more massive than the lanes themselves, and without any diagonal markings. So now I am just randomly sitting on the shoulder of a freeway exit, facing directly at a point in the road where the shoulder sharply narrows into nothingness, while two lanes of cars have me blocked in from the left at the traffic light.
I am going to take this opportunity to go on an intermission to inform you that, this took place in the evening and the sun was setting, so I’m just perpetually blinded. Not only that, but I haven’t washed my truck since coming back home from Beverly Hills, so my entire windshield is covered in a thin film of what appears to be bug semen or something, and when the sun shines directly at my windshield, it just glows white. Obviously, just having the sun in my eyes isn’t enough, so now I am literally functionally driving blind.
Back to the freeway. As I’m sitting on the shoulder, the person directly to my left looks over, realizes what I have done to myself, and decides to be a good samaritan and let me cut in front of him so I don’t have to suffer the full wrath of my mistake. But remember how I said the shoulder sharply narrows into nothingness? It wasn’t literally nothingness; it was a curb going into a triangular divider that exists for no apparent reason.
The traffic light turns green and the guy to my left rolls down his window and waves me forward. I too roll down my window and start gesturing, letting him know that I can’t actually go forward, because there is a curb and platform directly in front of me.
But no. This man was not going to let me foil his opportunity at doing his good deed of the day. He more furiously waves me forward, while I more furiously gesture back at him and yell “can you open your stupid eyes and realize that I can’t actually go forward?” But luckily, it comes out of my mouth as just “I can’t.”
I am now a participant of a gesture war on the shoulder of a freeway exit—a gesture war of two men trying to make the other one go first.
People start honking behind us. I realize it’s a lost cause. I drive up over the curb and onto the platform, just barely missing some object protruding from the ground, and off-road my way onto East Cheyenne Avenue. At this point, I already just want to go home.
(Note: I do not have a diagram for this because there was new construction recently completed in this area, so the aerial view of this area on Google Maps at the moment no longer reflects what the road actually looks like anymore.)
But I can’t go home yet. I need to pick up my food first. I take a right onto Civic Center Drive and turn into the west entrance of the parking lot of Cheyenne Pointe, the strip mall where Teriyaki Boy Healthy Grill is. I glance down at my navigation system and realize that the restaurant is actually on the opposite side. I ideally should’ve just stayed on Cheyenne Avenue for another quarter mile and used the northeast entrance, but it’s fine. I’m already in.
And then… hordes of people. As far as the eye can see. There are sidewalks and walkways, but no, we absolutely cannot use those. There are literal families—a mom, a dad, and like four little children—just randomly walking around the parking lot, crossing roadways, and just aimlessly wandering at the most random trajectories. They don’t have shopping carts, they don’t have merchandise, and they apparently also don’t have a purpose. They’re just going for their evening family stroll in the parking lot of Cheyenne Pointe.
There are, no joke, about six groups of families that I have to get through before I reach the restaurant. A big pickup truck approaching from your left? Better start walking more slowly; you don’t want that guy driving the truck to get to his destination.
I’m fairly certain it took me an extra three minutes to get to the restaurant.
Remember, throughout all of this, I’m still being blinded by the sunset.
I enter the restaurant and pick up my food.
As I turn out of the restaurant and drive westbound towards Civic Center Drive, I notice that a small white sedan is following me pretty closely. I thought I could just drive straight and exit the parking lot, but I was very mistaken. For this next part, I have a beautiful diagram constructed from a screenshot taken from Google Maps’ satellite view to illustrate what happened at the Panda Express.
I thought the area circled in pink had open access to Civic Center Drive, but I was clearly wrong. The red line represents me driving my red truck in the wrong direction. The green arrows represent the direction in which a competent person would drive when going through the drive-thru of Panda Express. The yellow line signifies that the parking area on the side was full. The yellow circle comes into play later.
It’s fine, though, because I can just back out of this before anyone pops out of the drive-thru. I reach over to my shifter and put my truck in reverse.
But remember the small white sedan that was following me too closely earlier? Apparently they decided to be equally as idiotic as me, because they were still following me, and they were also driving in the wrong direction towards the drive-thru. As I realize this, a vehicle approaches me from ahead. Someone is trying to get out of the drive-thru, and I’m boxed in from behind by this sedan.
Instead of putting his car in reverse and just backing out, the driver of the small white sedan instead decides that this would be a fantastic opportunity to prove that he was, in fact, more idiotic than me. He decides that he needs to turn around.
If you take a look at the diagram, you’ll notice that the travel lane to the west of Panda Express is extremely narrow—just a little bit more than a single car’s length—because of all the cars parked off to the side. Remember the yellow circle from earlier? That yellow circle is a curb—a curb that the white sedan drives up and down multiple times while he performs a nine-point turn to do a 180.
As I gaze into my rear-view mirror in astonishment, witnessing the beginning of the human race facing extinction as a consequence of its own stupidity, the car in front of me decides to add to the theatrics by beginning to honk at me.
The white sedan finally manages to turn around. I decide that today would be a great day for me to use both halves of my brain, so I just reverse out. The guy trying to get out of the Panda Express drive-thru, surely proud of himself for honking because that clearly made the situation much better, is also free from his eternal damnation. Everything is okay now.
After what feels like 14 additional twists and turns, I finally make it to the southwest exit of the Cheyenne Pointe parking lot and prepare to turn right onto Civic Center Drive.
While checking for cars, I notice a woman in her 30s riding a bicycle on the opposite side of the road. I’m not entirely sure what happened afterwards, but it’s almost as if her front wheel just suddenly malfunctioned and stopped spinning, because she got launched forward in a nosedive and the bicycle went slightly airborne, flipping upside-down in the process.
The incident looked pretty severe, so instead of turning right, I cut across all six lanes of Civic Center Drive, drive onto Harewood Avenue, and activate my warning lights. I step out and ask, “Are you okay? Do you need me to call EMS?”
When you’re in a neighborhood of small, run-down, single-story homes with chain-link fences, dying palm trees, and lawns overrun with weeds, and someone tells you to fuck off, you fuck right off. I hop back in my truck and drive away.
After making it back home, I open my bag of food to realize that Teriyaki Boy had forgotten to include the extra side of vegetables that I added to my order.
Now that’s what I call an 11/10 experience.