Monday, April 20, 2009

10. N36 (unedited)

It's late, again, so I'll just throw a bunch of stuff out there to keep the streak alive. At least I'm not in bed yet.

Following up the bingo talk, I found my way to the bingo hall about six years ago because I wanted some part-time income, but really didn't want to work at Target or some crummy retail job like that. There's an inherent coolness factor to being a poor journalist who works at a bookstore, evidently, but that didn't seem very appealing to me.

I have long been in love with the sound of my voice. I doubt I'm going to make a living off of commercial voice overs, but you could do a lot worse than mine. Years ago I worked as a deejay at bars. Not cool, trendy bars where you mixed the latest hipster dance tunes. Typically the bars I worked at were a bit lackluster when it came to the size, and sophistication, of the crowd. Eventually I wound up at a sports bar where I was a glorified channel jockey, changing the cable television feed for various TVs around the building while playing rather bland music. I worked some Thursday nights, and those were kind of fun, because we had a big promotion that was dependent upon a little creativity and personality behind the mic.

Eventually I tired of that and took a break from part-time work. When I decided it was time to make extra cash, I was reminded of a trip to a casino where I had played bingo. The work was kind of dull and repetitive, but it beat dealing with morons at Super America, I figured.

I have earned progressively less as I have moved from part-time job to part-time job, which is stupid. It's not the lucrative hourly wage that keeps me going back to the bingo hall, it's the ability to have a part-time gig waiting for me from November through April, based upon my availability. Hard to argue with that.

The employees and customers of the bingo hall come in all shapes and sizes, literally. There are the requisite little old ladies, and the not-so-little people. Holy cow, no pun intended.

You get nice people who enjoy talking to the employees, and then there are the grouches whose lives are so miserable that if they won $1 million, they'd bitch about having to wait so long to win it.

I've had a few memorable run-ins with complete morons, but when the day is over, I don't go home to a life as miserable as theirs, so it doesn't bother me much.

I work with an eclectic cast of characters. Some are parents, some are young and potentially have their whole life ahead of them. Some are tragic figures, like Al, who has a college degree and was once married, but a car accident has left him a shell of his former self. He worked there for years, but was fired about a year ago, although I'm not sure why. He use to get irritated about the way things were run around there. He must have hit the breaking point.

I won't soon forget John. He worked full time elsewhere as well as part time at the bingo hall. One night after work a bunch of us gathered for beers and he explained how he ended up in the U.S. He was from England, was married once, ended up married a second time to a woman from the states. He eventually became a shift manager at the bingo hall, and sometime after he quit he was indicted for skimming something like $65K from the books of a nonprofit group he served as treasurer of. I seem to recall he was convicted, but got off with a seemingly light sentence.

I'd love to see a biopic about some of my coworkers. I know a few odds and ends about their lives, but I'd really like to get a closer look. I'm not going to start asking probing questions, but I can't help but wonder how or why things are the way they are for some of my co-workers.

It's a weird, weird world out there. Bingo helps me keep in touch with the weirdest of the weird.

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