I followed the crowd and entered the main door confidently as though I had been there many times before, although I really hadn't.
I stopped briefly at the greeter's podium, clearly not needing to show any ID that I was old enough to enter. After telling the greeter that I had a meeting with a manager and that I had come a little early to see the place, she smiled and said, "That's just great and welcome! Perhaps you'll be lucky on a few games while you're waiting," as her hand gesture swept the vista before me.
I continued on and quickly went into sensory overload. A variety of gaming machines with enticing themes stood side-by-side and back-to-back like soldiers of fortune ready to take your fortune, your time and your confidence. The colorful lights, graphics and incessant sounds lured players to try the games having themes of ancient Egypt, vintage cars, undersea creatures, safari animals, old product ads, kings and queens, movie stars, space exploration, science fiction, rock music, gourmet cooking, rural life, military action, and much more.
Most machine games cost 1 cent or 2 cents to play, others cost 25 cents, but a few others cost several dollars. I quickly moved past the gaming machines, followed my stomach, and ventured into one of the restaurants for a sandwich.
After paying for my order, the cashier gave me a stanchion with a large number on top to display at my table of choice so that the server who would bring my order could find me. The number on my stanchion was 7. I said, "Ooo, that's a lucky number!"
The cashier replied, "Yes, indeed. I have a feeling you'll be lucky today."
Following a tasty lunch, I headed to my meeting, which was in an adjacent area featuring simulcast horseracing. This meant walking past the machine games again, but this time I noticed the carpet. It had a continuous undulating pattern and the more I looked at it, the more it felt like the room was moving.
I walked by many, many people seated at the machines, intent on their activity. While some people appeared to be more passive and just touched the controls over and over, almost in a bored manner, others manipulated the machines by patting the spinning graphics on the large computer, trying to stop the action and to select different images as they rolled by.
The meeting time had arrived and all went well. I was there to finalize a concert venue for an orchestra in which I play, and the casino rep with whom I met couldn't have been more welcoming and assuring that a concert in their venue would be a terrific win/win. They really wanted us to come. It didn't take long to realize that I really was lucky today.
[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]
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