My non-registered, non-certified investment advice for you

As is hopefully clear by the title, I want to point out that I am not a registered investment advisor and do not have the qualifications to become one. This anecdote outlines my personal experiences only, and is not to be used as guidance to manage your assets in lieu of a certified professional.

With that being said, my advice to you is actually very similar to the disclaimer above, and it is: Do not trick yourself into making unjustifiable in­vest­ment decisions based on others’ experiences if you are not fully informed of the entire situation.

The reason I’m writing this blog post is because I’ve been chatting quite a bit lately with my friends about investments. Most have listened to my ex­pe­ri­ences and intelligently used them as learning opportunities to do their own research about the related topics, but a few others… have made some ques­tion­able decisions.

It’s fun to talk about the wild and unexpected nature of the stock market, and it can be thrilling to share stories of huge successes or massive failures. What isn’t fun is talking about the steady growth of reliable index funds. Thus, if you were to ever ask me about my investments, I will probably talk about meme stocks, because talking about meme stocks makes for an inherently more interesting conversation.

A very important thing to remember is that the ratio of topics in a conversation does not necessarily correlate with the ratio of my actual investment dis­tri­bution. That means, if I spend 95% of my time talking with you about meme stocks and the remaining 5% about index funds, that does not mean I own 95% meme stocks and 5% index funds.

If you misinterpret that and assume I have 95% meme stocks, then proceed to align your own portfolio to have 95% meme stocks, then you have prob­ably made an incredibly stupid decision. That isn’t to say that you won’t see success—if you’re lucky, you could become a millionaire overnight, and I never said that there can’t be stupid millionaires—but you have just as likely of a chance of losing almost everything.

I always keep that last point in mind—that you have a chance of losing almost everything. That’s why the amount I invest in meme stocks and other extremely high-risk securities is limited only to the amount that I am comfortable losing. I am not comfortable losing my entire portfolio, so I choose to put a vast majority of it in things that I know will not suddenly vanish overnight.

I have a simple way to visualize this. Here is a table of the diversity of my portfolio.


This includes money in my online savings account and a tiny amount in my checking account, as well as money market settlement funds for money that has been transferred to my brokerage in preparation for investment that I haven’t had an opportunity to use yet.


Index funds – Domestic

This includes a variety of United States index funds ranging anywhere from the general S&P 500, to funds specifically targeting objec­tives like growth and dividends, covering across a variety of small- to large-capitalization companies.


Index funds – International

This provides me with exposure to the international stock market, including both developed and emerging international economies.


Target retirement funds

I use Vanguard to manage my tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Within my Roth IRA and SEP-IRA, I keep my money in the target retirement funds VFFVX and VTTSX, which are funds managed by Vanguard with dynamic composition so it prioritizes rapid growth during youth and stability closer to retirement. These target retirement funds have a mixture of domestic and international index funds, as well as some bonds later as retirement years approach, which is why I itemized this out separately.



When I was a much younger investor, I was far less tolerant of risk for two main reasons: (1) I overestimated the risk and volatility of index funds, which was caused by my inexperience with investing, and (2) I had low net worth so I had more of an incentive to pro­tect what I had. I bought some bonds back then, but haven’t added to my bond balance since; I figured I might as well keep the bonds I already purchased, seeing as it’s a very small portion of my portfolio.


Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

REITs are a way for you to diversify your portfolio to gain exposure to real estate without having to go out and purchase a property. I am definitely interested in purchasing actual real estate sometime in the future, but until then, I decided to invest a small amount into REITs.



I’ve researched and experimented with cryptocurrency for a while, but for now, I’ve settled on owning some Bitcoin and Ethereum.


Speculative stocks

These are individual stocks that I purchase directly through a brokerage, rather than stocks that are included in index funds or ETFs. As of right now, a majority of my speculative selections have been in travel companies, but these are stocks that I actively trade depending on where I think the market is headed. I do this primarily for fun, with capital growth only being a secondary objective.


Meme stocks

Just so I can say I was a part of the retail investor movement, I own shares in GameStop (GME), AMC Entertainment (AMC), Blackberry (BB), and other strange securities as recommended by the Reddit community Wall Street Bets.


If you loosely categorize my investments, you can say that I have 94.39% in “safe” holdings and 5.61% in “dangerous” holdings.

Let’s assume that disaster strikes. Bitcoin crashes and falls from $58,000 to just $4,000 like it was throughout a lot of early 2019, losing 93%+ of its value. Ethereum faces a similarly proportional crash. COVID-19 mutates into COVID-9001 and locks down the entire planet again, causing travel companies’ stocks to plummet to only 20% of their current value. And of course, GameStop, AMC, and Blackberry all go entirely bankrupt. In this theoretical sce­nar­io, I lose 5.11% of my portfolio.

Not ideal, but I’m ok with that.

An even greater mitigating factor is that this loss is based on the current value of my portfolio. If you’re familiar with cryptocurrency, you know how fast it’s risen in value. If you calculate my losses relative to cost basis rather than current value, then the percentage of money I would lose is even less.

So if you’re ever interested in buying Bitcoin or shares of GameStop because of me or someone else talking excitedly about the topic, and you want to “copy” us because we seem to sound like knowledgeable investors, keep the table above in mind. Don’t let our excitement falsely trick you into thinking that we’ve gone all-in on meme stocks.

To be clear, this is not me telling you whether you should or should not go all-in on meme stocks; this is me making sure you know that I absolutely did not.




How not to steal

My DoorDash account got hackedToday felt like a long day. I’ve been going to sleep and waking up relatively late lately, but I had to get up before 9 AM PST this morning for class. My sleep tracker says I got less than 6 hours of restful sleep last night, which is not very good considering I have an overactive thyroid and need a lot of sleep. Classes have also been difficult lately, because sitting in a teleconference for remote learning during the pan­dem­ic doesn’t really engage my mind as much as traditional classroom settings do, so it’s a constant strug­gle not to fall asleep the entire time.

At 4 PM, my class finally wrapped up. I spent about an hour catching up on some work tasks that I missed during the day, then laid down in bed to watch some videos and relax.

After I finished petting the cats and getting comfortable in bed, I got an email notification from DoorDash. Apparently my account had a new log-in from an unrecognized device. I definitely didn’t just log into DoorDash, and I would never commit such as sin as to use a device with iOS, so I came to the conclusion that my account got hacked. I got out of bed and logged into my computer.

My credit card protects me against unauthorized charges, but that claim process is a hassle and I wanted to stop the theft from happening before the suspect had an opportunity to follow through. As quickly as possible, I changed my password and removed my saved credit card details from my account. Not only did this stop the suspect from completing the checkout process, but it would’ve also thrown an error, be­cause I have a free DashPass subscription courtesy of the Chase Sapphire Reserve that requires a CSR credit card number to be tied to the account. By removing my card details, I changed my account’s eli­gi­bil­i­ty status on particular promotions, and DoorDash would refresh the storefront and reapply any relevant delivery and service fees.

That worked, because the purchase never went through. However, during the few minutes it took me to do this, the suspect did a little work on my account.

Once I was done locking down my account, I saw a few things pop up that weren’t there before.

My DoorDash account got hacked

In addition to informing me that the suspect was interested in purchasing 30 traditional wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, they were also gracious enough to provide me with their address and phone number.

I looked up their address on Google Maps and saw that it pointed to a dormitory on a university campus. I looked up some local law enforcement agen­cies that had jurisdiction over the area and found a university police department, city police department, and county sheriff. I pulled up the in­for­ma­tion of the university police department and gave them a call to let them know what happened.

An officer picked up the phone, listened to my story, and passed my call onto someone else, as he was unsure how to proceed. A different officer came on the line, listened to my story, and said that this is the first time something of this nature had been reported to them. The officer ran a records check for the phone number in the description of the DoorDash delivery address, and it came back as a match to a current student.

I let the officer know that I was not interested in pressing charges—this is literally a hungry college kid who made a mistake, and I don’t want to damage their reputation and future by putting them through the criminal justice system. (Also, even if this did go to court, unless the student confessed, it would be extremely difficult to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, as the defense could claim that an unrelated third party hacked my account and at­tempted to send food to this student without their knowledge or consent.)

However, I did say that I would like the police to at least speak with the student as a preventative measure to discourage the student from doing some­thing like this again, if it was indeed the student. I also informed them that this could end up being a liability issue for the university because, if this student was on dormitory Wi-Fi, they were technically using university technology systems to commit a cybercrime across state lines, making it a federal offense.

The officer noted everything and said that he would go with my wishes and just process the student through the university system instead of going through the court system. I followed up via email with the officer and provided him with the evidence above (unedited and uncensored, of course) for their records. Due to privacy reasons, I imagine I won’t ever find out what actually happened, but hopefully me doing this helped set a student on a better path to a brighter future, and protected a potential future different victim from credit card fraud.

So if you ever had plans to hack someone’s DoorDash account and get yourself some free food, I highly discourage you from doing so… not only because you shouldn’t steal, but also because providing your address and phone number to your victim generally isn’t the best idea.




Did you know my name is Usain Bolt

My travel experiences lately have been great, but it wasn’t always like that. When I first started traveling, I took American Airlines a lot (instead of Delta Airlines), and because I had very limited “travel hacks” knowledge and no elite/loyalty status, I ended up not really enjoying travel. American Airlines also always tended to be unreliable, and I had flight delays or other kinds of flight-related problems basically every single flight that I took.

After I got more used to traveling, started getting regular complementary upgrades due to elite/loyalty status, and changed my air carrier of choice to Delta, I stopped having issues. I had actually never had a problem with Delta, at all, whatsoever, apart from one single flight out of New York City where my flight was delayed by a bit due to inclement weather.

Today was the first time that I actually had a problem with Delta Airlines.

Turkish Airlines lounge at Dulles International Airport

My day started with waking up, showering, getting some work done, refueling and returning the rental Ram Rebel, and going to the Turkish Airlines lounge at Dulles International Airport, one of the only lounges still open due to COVID-19.

When it was time for my flight, I headed over to my gate and boarded the aircraft on time. However, once we were on board, we were informed that there was a minor issue—there was some extra paperwork that needed to be filled out, and that needed to be taken care of prior to departure.

Honestly, after some of the absurd reasons I’ve suffered from delays from American Airlines, ranging from “there is an overhead bin that will not close” to “the toilet will not flush” to “we ran out of planes so we have to fly one in from Mexico City” and “we ran out of pilots so we have to fly some in from Baltimore” (all of these reasons are 100% non-exaggerated situations that happened to me while flying American Airlines), a paperwork issue seemed negligible. I patiently stayed seated and waited for departure.

Then, a second piece of unfortunate news was delivered to us. Apparently the jet didn’t have enough fuel, and they had to wait for the fuel truck to come refuel the aircraft. They were unsure how long that would take, but said that they would get us in the air as soon as possible. I continued patiently wait­ing for departure.

Delta Airlines jet

As we approached the 30-minute mark of delays beyond our expected departure time, I started getting a bit concerned. I had an option to take a non-stop flight from IAD to LAS via United Airlines, but because of my hatred of United Airlines and my love and loyalty for Delta Airlines, I intentionally took a flight that had a layover at DTW. This was a fairly tight layover—we were expected to arrive in Detroit at 6:03 PM EST, I would have 22 minutes to deplane and get to my next gate before boarding began, and the flight out of DTW to LAS would depart at 6:55 PM EST.

Right as we hit the 35th minute of delays, the pilot announced that we were good to go and we would be taxiing to the runway shortly. They retracted the jet bridge and we started moving. At this time, I got a notification on my phone from my Delta Airlines app telling me that, due to the delay, I would not have sufficient time to make my connecting flight, and as such, they would be automatically rebooking me to the next DTW-to-LAS flight.

Of course, I was a bit disappointed, because the next available flight out wasn’t until tomorrow. I figured that I would just have to go to Delta customer service, collect a hotel and taxi voucher, and spend a night in Detroit before heading out tomorrow evening. I even considered just getting a rental car and using this opportunity to spend 24 hours in Detroit touring the city and exploring.

But there was an inkling in the back of my mind that told me that there was still an ever so tiny chance that I might still make my regularly scheduled connecting flight.

I sat back and relaxed for the one-and-a-half hour flight, as if biding my energy for what was to come.


The 35-minute departure delay ended up translating to a 26-minute arrival delay. At 6:29 PM EST, the jet arrived at the gate. After doors to arrival, crosscheck, and deplaning, it was 6:34 PM EST. This was a Bombardier CRJ, which meant the overhead bin space isn’t large enough to accommodate normal carry-on luggage, so I had to pseudo-check my carry-on at the boarding gate. Waiting for my bag to come out from the ramp took another two minutes, and at 6:36 PM EST, I was zooming down the jet bridge.

I deplaned at Concourse C, and I needed to get more than halfway down the northeast wing of Concourse A, which involved going through an un­der­ground tunnel between the concourses by foot. Total distance to travel from gate to gate was right around 3,500 feet (0.66 mi, 1.07 km).

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

I made it in 6 minutes.

I arrived at the gate of my connecting flight at 6:43 PM, three minutes after boarding doors were supposed to be closed. The gate agent had received a no­ti­fi­ca­tion that my inbound flight had been delayed, and held the boarding door for me. I was the last one to waltz on the plane, apologizing to the flight crew and informing them that my connecting flight had been delayed—to which they replied, “we know.”

I’m back home in Las Vegas now.

I think my Delta mobile app is very confused as to what happened, because it seems like it still thinks I need a rebooked flight for tomorrow. Little does it know that I occasionally turn into Usain Bolt if it means I can avoid having to delay my return home by a night.

You know that I’m going to fill out that customer satisfaction survey for that gate agent who extended boarding for three minutes for me, and leave her a glowing review.

Adam Parkzer's travel map, last updated November 1, 2020

And with the conclusion of that trip, I add three more states—Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland—to my travel map, bringing my total to 26 out of 50.




Re: “Why do you think Las Vegas is the greatest city in the world?”

In March 2018, a little over a year after moving from the Chicagoland suburbs to Southern California, I moved, by myself, to Las Vegas. I rented a mini­van with lay-flat second and third row seating from Enterprise Rent-a-Car, packed it literally to the brim with my belongings, and drove from Corona, CA to my new apartment in Summerlin South, a census-designated place in the Las Vegas Valley.

Two months after I moved, I wrote a blog post titled “Re: ‘Why did you move to Las Vegas?'” where I addressed… you guessed it, why I moved to Las Vegas. In that post, I pointed out why I decided to relocate, then busted some myths about Las Vegas. A lot of what’s in that post still stands, but I decided to do a follow-up post, now that I’ve been living here for over two years.

In those two years, it’s become a meme among my friends and co-workers that I am one of the most avid proponents of the greatness of Las Vegas. To be clear, that being a meme is well-labeled. I definitely do not think that Las Vegas is objectively the greatest city in the world. In fact, I think it could very well be one of the worst cities for many, many people to live in. Obviously, the greatness of a city is highly subjective, and my belief of Las Vegas’ great­ness is subjective to my own unique situation.

With that being said, Las Vegas is what I believe to be my best place to live, and I decided to list off some of my personal favorite things about the city.

  • It’s the perfect combination of a city and a suburb.

    I hate the unnavigable congestion of packed cities, but I also don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere like the small village where I grew up in the Chicagoland suburbs. I don’t want to be in a bustling city of millions where I’m constantly shoulder-to-shoulder with other people and have to pay to park at the grocery store, but I also want things to be accessible.

    I think Las Vegas is a perfect combination of both a city and a suburb. There are no stretches of forest or empty land separating things, but things also aren’t so packed that it’s excessively dense. I value the fact that it feels like I can get from place to place without having to traverse through nothingness, while also feeling like I can drive somewhere and I can actually get there faster than just giving up and walking.

  • I can live in luxury without paying luxury prices.

    I currently live in a studio on one of the upper-most floors of a high-rise condo on the Las Vegas Strip. My building has dedicated security and all amenities you’d expect from a luxury hotel. Depending on your preference, this is basically one of two living situations that you could classify as the “best” in this city, the other being a mansion on the outskirts of the Valley by the mountains, if you like that over high-rise living.

    My housing expenses, including rent and all utilities, total less than US$1,500.00 per month. I personally have an unbelievably great deal, but literally anyone, even the worst negotiators, could live this lifestyle in Las Vegas for less than US$2,000.00 per month. Search for something com­pa­ra­ble in Los Angeles and you’re look­ing at an absolute minimum of US$4,000.00 per month.

    And it’s not like I have to make “sacrifices” for it being in Las Vegas. I live on the northern end of the Strip with a north-facing view, so I’m not constantly bombarded by the flashing lights and ground-shaking music of Las Vegas Boulevard. There’s occasionally a loud train horn, but other­wise, it’s just the basic hum that you’d expect from any bustling city.

  • A vast majority of anything that I would possibly want to do is within a half-hour drive.

    Las Vegas is built as a tourist hotspot, and as such, it has pretty much anything and everything you could possibly want to do. Of course, a lot of it feels forced or artificial (because a lot of it is), but I’m not too picky, and something that feels fake will still often meet my relatively low standards of satisfaction. (To be clear, I am known to have unrealistically high standards for things I truly care about, but for everything else, I’m mostly in­different because I take all the “care” that I would allocate to those “other things” and just hone them in on a few select important things.)

    There are also nature-y things to do in and around the Las Vegas Valley as well, with Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, the Hoover Dam, available on the outskirts. A “desirable” thing that is obviously missing is the ocean, but I go to California enough already, and I personally am not really too compatible with big bodies of water anyway.

    In a similar vein, actually getting to all of these unique things you want to do isn’t a pain. My central location on the Strip means that everything is relatively close-by, but even if it wasn’t, Las Vegas traffic isn’t that terrible (at least not yet). Even when traffic gets “bad,” you still feel like you’re getting to your destination, albeit a bit slower; it’s not like California where you just feel stuck in an endless stretch of jammed freeway.

  • There is little to no risk of natural disaster.

    I’m a bit of a control freak. I like to account for everything that could go wrong and minimize any risks that could be a consequence of unattended or unexpected variables.

    As you can imagine, this means that I particularly do not get along well with natural disasters, and specifically, with earthquakes. It makes no sense to me that you would willingly put yourself in a scenario where your living situation could be thrown completely off balance by something you cannot predict and something you have no control over. I don’t think I will ever understand people who choose to move to Los Angeles voluntarily (meaning, they don’t already have family there and it’s not for work), then proceed to pay inflated prices to purchase real estate, only to be at per­pet­ual risk for your overpriced property to collapse without notice.

    Las Vegas occasionally gets earthquakes, but it’s only when the actual earthquake itself happens elsewhere, and the magnitude of said earthquake is high enough that Las Vegas is within the affected area. Las Vegas also takes the concept of avoiding natural disasters a step further by not really having natural disasters or severe weather effects in general.

    A lot of tech companies are moving their servers to Las Vegas to minimize the chances of their data being lost to something unexpected. I ob­vi­ous­ly value my own life more than tech companies value their data, so I think it’s only reasonable that I think the safety of the Las Vegas Valley is one of its big pros.

  • I save money by not paying state income tax.

    This one is pretty straightforward. The state of Nevada doesn’t have state income tax, so that is literally money that I pocket each tax year just because I decided to live in Las Vegas.

    The impact of this can be made a bit more obvious with a mathematical comparison. Someone filing taxes as a single individual living in California who has an annual salary of US$100,000.00 pays over $6,000 in state income tax. If that individual instead chose to live in Nevada, they would pay $0. That means that they would pocket an extra $6,000 every year.

    Of course, that’s oversimplified, because if they lived in Las Vegas (a city with a lower cost of living), then their annual salary might be adjusted down. Or, the same kind of high-paying Californian career opportunities might not even be offered in Nevada. However, for someone like me who works full-time remotely, this actually literally functionally becomes a “free” $6,000 every year.

  • McCarran International Airport provides great accessibility to the rest of the country for business travel.

    I travel for business quite a bit. If it isn’t going back and forth between Las Vegas and Los Angeles to take care of in-person work with Tempo, then it’s usually flying to random places across the country for events, conventions, and meetings.

    Because Las Vegas is a tourist hotspot, the airport has a great selection of affordable, non-stop flights from a lot of destinations to incentivize people to come visit. That’s obviously good for me as well, because those tourist flights can be the same flights that get me where I need to be for business.

  • I like the hot weather.

    I think snow is a magical thing. Waking up one day and seeing everything covered in a pretty blanket of white sets you up for a great day.

    That is, until the snow keeps falling, day after day, foot after foot, until you’re sick of seeing white everywhere and you can’t get where you need to be because everything is buried in snow. Living in the Chicagoland suburbs dumped too much of a good thing on me (often continuing on into the spring), and it took away the magic of snow.

    Ever since moving to the Pacific Coast, snow has become magical to me again. It’s so rare in the Las Vegas Valley that seeing it after waking up in the morning brings back that childhood awe and that feeling of knowing that it’s going to be a special day.

    Also, just in general, I prefer warmer and drier weather. I hate humidity because I feel like it makes the air feel heavier and more difficult to breathe, and it leaves an unsavory weight on your body where you always have an urge to shower throughout the whole day. The dry air in Las Vegas feels crisp and clean, and I never get that unsettling feeling on my skin.

  • Nuisances that I’ve had to deal with my whole life, like mosquitoes and allergies, are no longer a thing.

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. I can actually leave my sliding glass door open during the evenings without worrying about a swarm of mos­qui­toes leaving behind 50 red bumps on my skin. When I lived in the Chicagoland suburbs, I had the worst bout of seasonal allergies that would cripple me between August and October, but that’s completely gone in Las Vegas.

    There hasn’t really ever been a thing where I would look at it and think “wow, that’s annoying” that was exclusive to the Las Vegas Valley.

  • I feel like I’m “cheating” at real life.

    I have a stereotypical “ruthless businessman” kind of mentality. I have a strong foundation of morals and ethics, but as long as I believe I am abiding by those standards I have set for myself, I often do not show much mercy. This also means that I will do unusual things and employ non-traditional strategies—things and strategies that some people may consider questionable—in order to get ahead in life.

    By having a remote job with a company headquartered in Southern California, I almost feel like I’m “cheating” the system. A massive portion of Las Vegas revolves around the service industry, so the “health” of the city is based heavily on tourism. When the tourism industry is prospering, the city prospers; when the tourism industry suffers (like during the COVID-19 pandemic), the city also suffers.

    By maintaining a non-service job from outside of Las Vegas, I am able to remain completely financially stable, even through the ups and downs of Las Vegas. This means that when the city dips down to a low, it actually ends up serving as an opportunity for me to swoop in and take advantage of the situation. For example, if real estate prices go down because people are moving out after losing service-related employment, that’s a chance for me to come in and get a property at a great deal, even if I would’ve been able to afford it at the non-discounted price anyway.

    I am under the firm belief that you cannot become the top 0.1% in the United States by doing things the traditional, “normal” way. Making net-positive business decisions like this adds up, and with enough of them, I can get closer to joining America’s elite and setting myself and my family up for a great future.

As I said before, these are my reasons why Las Vegas is the best city for my situation. My situation is obviously very unique and unusual, so for the sake of providing clearer information catered towards the general public and presenting both sides of the argument, I’ll be covering the cons of Las Vegas as well in a future Q&A post.

If you’ve read this because you were one of the people who were just curious as to why I rave about Las Vegas so much, hopefully this was a satisfying-enough response. If you’re here because you’re seriously considering also moving to Las Vegas, be sure to keep an eye out for my cons post as well, in addition to doing additional research and collecting information from multiple reliable sources before making a final decision.




How not to pick up food from North Las Vegas

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.

Cheyenne Pointe

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.

How not to drive around 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 an eight-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?”

Her response:

“Fuck off.”

Harewood Avenue, North Las Vegas

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.