Saturday, June 28, 2003

We got back from a bus trip to the Hilton Casino in Atlantic City a little while ago. We have two friends who have coordinated a few trips per year from Philly to AC. This one might well be the last one that our group of friends attends, though, for reasons that I'll soon explain.

I took pictures, but instead of posting them on here, I want to upload them to the new photo log I created on Fotopages. At this moment, it's empty, but it will have the Atlantic City trip photos on it before long.

Tonight, not a single one of our group had one ounce of luck. The only reason I didn't lose anything was that I stopped playing before I ran out of the money we got as part of the package. (The trip cost $26 and we got back $20.) I only play at the slot machines, since at least I understand what the rules are. The other games are not only far more expensive, but I don't even know the rules. I have this personal philosophy that if I'm going to lose money, doggone it, I want to know why. ;o)

Anyway, I decided that enough was enough after losing $14 of the money that we got as part of the bus trip package. Technically, since Mark is the one that paid for our tickets, that left me $6 ahead for the night. Oh, and there's also the $5 I won on the way down, when we all played a miniature horse-race game in the bus (of which there will soon be pictures posted: stay tuned). So overall, I came out of this night $11 ahead of the game. Of course... the reason I accomplished this feat was that I stopped gambling within the first hour of our arrival. We got to Atlantic City at 8 PM, and I stopped playing at around 9 PM. From then until our bus left at 1 AM, all I did was people-watch, sit with friends, and take a walk with Mark and Joe to the next-closest casino that was 2 blocks away. (Incidentally, tonight I discovered that I can walk about 2 blocks before getting exhausted. That's a major improvement from a week ago, when I was worn out after walking half-a-block. I'm making progress bouncing back from that darn strep throat episode.)

In any event, the fact that Mark, Joe, and Joe's mom all lost money on this trip is not the sole reason that I don't think our group of friends will be going on this particular bus trip anymore. The late hour that bus leaves Philly and arrives back home plays a part, too: getting back to the city at 2 AM and then ferrying some of our non-car-owning friends to their doors takes time, and gets us to OUR door pretty late.

But even THAT wouldn't be enough to deter us from going; after all, we've already attended three or four of these trips that began and ended equally late. There's a much more pressing reason to make us think twice about attending again: there were some people on the trip who got VERY drunk while they were in Atlantic City, and unfortunately two of them were sitting at the table with Mark and me. (This bus has tables in it instead of regular bus seats, and four people can sit at each table; two are facing forward and two are facing the back of the bus.) Not only did Mark and I have two men for table-mates who both got extremely inebriated, when they got on the bus they started arguing and shouting at each other. There were a lot of big-ticket four-lettered-words involved, and they were undoubtedly audible from one end of the bus to the other. At one point, there was some concern that the two of them would come to blows. Fortunately, the two of them shifted abruptly into an "I'm sorry, man, I really am so sorry" sort of weepy mode and forgave each other for about ten minutes.

After this, the drunker of our two table-mates, who referees for kids' basketball games, started asking questions of Joe, who is a music director for a local church. This guy has officiated at games in the school that's attached to the church where Joe works, and he just couldn't understand why Joe had never been in the gym of the school. No matter how many times Joe and a few other people tried to explain that Joe works in the CHURCH, and his job has no connection whatsoever with the SCHOOL, this man just couldn't wrap his mind around the concept. He repeated the question, stated in various ways, for at least 20 to 30 minutes, and every time he got the same answer, he exclaimed "I can't believe that! How could you never have been in the gym? It's right across the street..." and so on.

Actually, I feel more sorry for this man than anything else. His wife, who was age 47, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack less than a year ago. The man is still grieving her loss deeply, and mentioned on the way down to AC (when he was still sober) that he is attending bereavement group meetings twice monthly. He also stated outright during the trip down that he intended to drink once he got there, and boy, did he ever follow through with that statement. After observing his behavior on our ride home, it crossed my mind that maybe he should be supplementing those bereavement group sessions with AA meetings. But I certainly wouldn't have the nerve to make a suggestion like that to a complete stranger. Even if I were bold enough to offer that sort of opinion to a person I met a few hours ago, he was in no fit mental state to heed the advice anyway, so I just kept my thoughts to myself.

It's 4 AM now and I'm nothing remotely resembling ready to fall asleep. That hour's ride home from the casino, with all the uproar going on across the table from us, has still got me very wound up. Even the cough medicine, which I took the moment I got in the door, hasn't made me drowsy yet. (Sure, that figures! When I don't want it to make me drowsy, I start dozing off right away; when I DO want that side effect to kick in, nothing happens. Murphy's Law strikes again.) I hope to heck I start getting sleepy soon.

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